wrong type of fire extinguisher

What Happens If I Use The Wrong Type Of Fire Extinguisher On A Fire?

Fire safety is a critical aspect of protecting yourself and your property from the devastating effects of fires. One essential tool in fire safety is the fire extinguisher, but did you know that using the wrong type of fire extinguisher on a fire can have serious consequences? In this blog post, we will explore what happens when you use the wrong type of fire extinguisher on a fire and why it’s crucial to match the extinguisher to the type of fire you’re dealing with.

Understanding Fire Classes

Before delving into the consequences of using the wrong fire extinguisher, it’s essential to understand fire classes. Fires are classified into different categories based on the type of fuel involved. These classes are:

Class A: Fires involving solids such as paper, cardboard or wood. These could also be any other combustible material.

Class B: Fires involving flammable liquids.

Class C: Fires involving flammable gases.

Class D: Fires involving combustible metals, like magnesium or titanium.

Electrical Fires: Not their own class of fire. These fires occur when live electrical equipment is involved in a fire.

Class F: Fires involving cooking oils and fats.

To understand more about types of fires, we have some more information that you might find helpful, HERE.

Using the Wrong Type of Fire Extinguisher 

Now, let’s examine what happens when you use the wrong type of fire extinguisher on a fire:

1. Reduced Effectiveness: The most immediate consequence is reduced effectiveness. Different types of extinguishers are designed to tackle specific fire classes. Using the wrong one means you may not be able to control or extinguish the fire effectively.

2. Fire Escalation: In some cases, using the wrong extinguisher can actually make the fire worse. For instance, using a water-based extinguisher on a grease fire (Class F) can cause the burning oil to splatter, spreading the flames.

3. Safety Hazards: Attempting to extinguish an electrical fire with a water-based extinguisher (Class A) can lead to electric shock and other serious safety hazards.

4. Damage to Property: Using the wrong extinguisher may not only fail to put out the fire but can also lead to extensive property damage. For example, using a Dry Chemical extinguisher on a sensitive electronic device can result in corrosive damage.

5. Toxic Fumes: Some extinguishing agents, when used on the wrong fire class, can produce toxic fumes. This can endanger people nearby and make evacuation necessary.

Choosing the Right Extinguisher

To avoid the consequences of using the wrong fire extinguisher, always follow these guidelines:

1. Know the fire class: Identify the type of fire you’re dealing with, and choose the appropriate extinguisher.

2. Read labels: Fire extinguishers are labelled with the fire classes they are designed for. Make sure that the label is checked before using it.

3. Training: Ensure that you and your family or colleagues are trained in the proper use of fire extinguishers.


Using the wrong type of fire extinguisher on a fire can lead to reduced effectiveness, safety hazards, property damage, and more. It’s crucial to understand fire classes and choose the right extinguisher for the job to maximise safety and minimise the risk of harm. Fire safety is not something to take lightly.