Five Facts About Fire Extinguishers

Five Facts About Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are often overlooked until the moment we need them the most. These life-saving devices come in various shapes and sizes, but there’s more to them than meets the eye. In this blog post, we’ll delve into five fascinating facts about fire extinguishers that you might not know.

1. The ABCs of Fire Extinguishers

Most people are familiar with the ABC classification system on fire extinguishers, indicating the types of fires they can effectively combat. However, what’s lesser-known is the exact breakdown of these classifications:

– A: Ordinary combustibles (wood, paper).

– B: Flammable liquids (oil, gasoline).

– C: Flammable gases (propane, methane).

– D: Combustible metals (lithium, magnesium).

– Electrical Fires: Not their own classification but have to be treated as such.

– F: Kitchen fires involving cooking oils and fats.

Understanding the specific classes helps ensure that the right extinguisher is used for the corresponding fire type, maximising its effectiveness. For a more in-depth look into the fire classes, check out our more comprehensive overview HERE.

2. Colour Codes

Have you ever wondered why fire extinguishers come in different colours? The array of colours are not just for aesthetics but they serve as a crucial identifier for the type of extinguishing agent inside:

– Water: Red

– Foam: Cream

– Dry Powder: Blue

– CO2: Black

– Wet Chemical: Yellow

Knowing the colour code can be vital during emergencies when quick identification is essential for swift action.

3. The Importance of Regular Inspections

Fire extinguishers aren’t “install and forget” devices. They require regular inspections to ensure they’re in optimal working condition. Many extinguishers have pressure gauges, and periodic checks can help confirm that the pressure is within the recommended range. Additionally, inspecting for visible signs of damage, such as corrosion or leakage, is crucial for maintaining reliability and usability.

4. The Power of PASS

When it comes to having to operate a fire extinguisher, the acronym PASS can be a handy guide:

– P: Pull the pin

– A: Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire

– S: Squeeze the handle to release the extinguishing agent

– S: Sweep from side to side while aiming at the base of the fire

Remembering and practising the PASS technique can make a significant difference in effectively tackling a fire. To find out more about using fire extinguishers and the PASS technique, check out our more in-depth look HERE.

5. Fire Extinguishers Have an Expiry Date

Yes, even fire extinguishers have a shelf life. Most extinguishers are designed to last between 5 to 15 years, depending on their type. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations and the label on the extinguisher to know when it’s time for a replacement. Regular maintenance and proper storage can extend their lifespan, ensuring they remain reliable when needed.


Fire extinguishers are unsung heroes in our daily lives, ready to leap into action when the unexpected occurs. By understanding these five key facts about fire extinguishers, we can appreciate the importance of proper usage, maintenance, and selection of these vital safety devices. Stay informed, and stay safe!

can fire extinguishers freeze

Can Fire Extinguishers Freeze?

When purchasing a new fire extinguisher, the location it is going to be stored in is integral. If that location is prone to low temperatures, the fire extinguisher you want might not be suitable, find out now.

can fire extinguishers freeze

Water Fire Extinguishers

Water fire extinguishers should be kept at a temperature range of +5°C to +60°C. If kept at a temperature below 5°C Water fire extinguishers will not work properly and will freeze when the temperature gets to 0°C. This also goes for Water Plus as well as Water Mist extinguishers. To find out more about these extinguishers, click here.

6 litre water fire extinguisher
6 litre foam fire extinguisher

AFF Foam Fire Extinguishers

AFF Foam fire extinguishers should also be kept at a temperature range of +5°C to 60°C. If kept at a temperature below 5°C Foam fire extinguishers will not work properly and will freeze. To find out more about these extinguishers, click here.


Wet Chemical Fire Extinguishers

Wet Chemical fire extinguishers should be kept at a temperature range of 0°C to 60°C. If kept at a temperature below freezing Wet Chemical fire extinguishers will not work and will freeze. To find out more about these extinguishers, click here.

2 litre multichem fire extinguisher

MultiCHEM Fire Extinguishers

MultiCHEM fire extinguishers are usable when kept in the temperature range of -5°C to +60°C. This means MultiCHEM fire extinguishers will freeze and will not be functional at any temperature below -5°C. To find out more about these fire extinguishers click here.


Dry Powder Fire Extinguishers

Regular Dry Powder fire extinguishers can be kept at a temperature as low as -10°C with no further additional freeze protection. These therefore are perfect for situations where the temperatures might drop below freezing because they are designed to cope with these temperatures. To find out more about these extinguishers, click here.

CO2 Fire Extinguishers

CO2 fire extinguishers can be kept in the incredible temperature range of -20°C to +60°C. This allows them to stay useful in almost all locations because of there usability in pretty much any weather. CO2 extinguishers are therefore able to be used after being stored outside and in locations down to -20°C. To find out more about these extinguishers click here.

Low Freeze Additive Fire Extinguishers

Low Freeze Additive Fire extinguishers are able to be stored in temperatures down to -9°C. These are available for Water and AFF Foam Extinguishers. This is a very common choice for low temperature locations because of the usability of Water and Foam extinguishers. To find out more about these extinguishers, click here.

low freeze ad fire extinguisher - can fire extinguishers freeze
history of fire extinguishers

History of Fire Extinguishers

Look into the History of Fire Extinguishers

A brief look into the history of the fire extinguisher, the red cannisters that we see every day.

history of fire extinguishers


In the history of fire extinguishers, this one is an important one. In 1819 Captain George William Manby invented the first version of the modern fire extinguisher. His extinguisher was a copper vessel and contained 3 gallons of pearl ash solution under compressed air pressure.

history of fire extinguishers
history of fire extinguishers

Late 1800's

In the late 1800’s the soda-acid extinguisher was invented. These extinguishers would work by containing 1 or 2 gallons of water and had sodium bicarbonate mixed in. In the cylinder a vial was suspended and contained concentrated sulphuric acid. 

This vial was then broken, using two different methods depending on the style of extinguisher. Once the acid was mixed with the bicarbonate solution, carbon dioxide gas would be expelled and this would in turn pressurise the water. The pressurised water was forced from the canister through a short length of hose and a nozzle.


Around 1912 Pyrene pioneered the carbon tetrachloride or CTC extinguisher, these extinguishers projected the liquid from a brass or chrome container by hand pump, onto the fire. They worked by interfering with the chemical reaction that takes place. This extinguisher was suitable for liquid and electrical fires. The vapours and combustion by-products emitted were highly toxic and did lead to multiple deaths when used in a confined area.

old fire extinguishers

Mid to Late 1900's

In the mid to late 1900’s the modern type of fire extinguisher used different extinguishing agents. Manufacturers of extinguishers generally use some type of pressurised vessel to store and discharge the extinguishing agents.

The first type of extinguisher used pressurised air to approximately 1 bar (approximately 5 times a car tyre pressure). 

The second type of fire extinguishers are the “gas cartridge” type. These operate in a similar manner, but the pressure source is a small cartridge of CO2 gas at 130 bars, rather than air.


In 2011 Britannia introduced the first self-maintenance extinguishers, which for the first time in extinguisher history do not require service engineers to visit sites and maintain them. These units overcame the problem of corrosion, lining damage and pressure loss by being designed of composite plastics, Aramid and brass. 

This extinguisher can withstand higher pressures than ordinary steel extinguishers. Britannia’s self-maintenance extinguishers cannot corrode and do not require any attention other than ensuring that the units are not missing, damaged or discharged. They do not require refills after 5 years, either. Also they are kitemarked and MED approved. 

To find out more about these types of extinguisher, click the link here and learn more about them on Britannia’s website.