The ABC’s of Fire Extinguishers

The ABC’s of Fire Extinguishers

Just as there is a right tool for every job, there is a right extinguisher for every fire. The class of an extinguisher, identified on its nameplate, corresponds to the class or classes of fire the extinguisher controls. On most construction jobs, we are concerned with Class A, B and C fires. The best extinguisher to have on a job is a multi-purpose Class ABC extinguisher, which contains a dry, powdered chemical under pressure. The following describes the different classes of fire and the kind of extinguisher that is recommended for each.

Class A Fires

For fires involving:  Wood, paper, trash, and other materials that have glowing embers when they burn.

Extinguisher to Use: For Class A fires use a Class A or Class ABC extinguisher.

Always remember that a Class A extinguisher contains water and should be used only on a Class A fire. If used on gasoline, it can spread the fire.  If used on electrical fires, it can cause you to be electrocuted.

Class B Fires

For fires involving flammable liquids and gases, such things as gasoline, solvents, paint thinners, grease, LPG, and acetylene.

Extinguisher to Use: Use Class B or Class ABC extinguishers.

Class C Fires

For fires involving energized electrical equipment.

Extinguisher to Use: Use a Class C or Class ABC extinguisher.

Some Important Points to Remember

  • Use the correct fire extinguisher for the type of fire.
  • Never use a Class A extinguisher, which contains water or foam, on a liquid or electrical fire.
  • Know where extinguishers are located and how to use them. Follow the directions printed on the label.
  • Keep the area around the fire extinguisher clear for easy access.
  • Don’t hide the extinguisher by hanging coats, rope, or other materials on it.
  • Take care of the extinguishers just as you do your tools.
  • Never remove tags from extinguishers. They indicate the last time the extinguisher was serviced and inspected.
  • Report defective or suspect extinguishers to your Supervisor, so that they can be replaced or repaired.
  • When inspecting extinguishers, look for cracked hoses, plugged nozzles, and corrosion. Also, look for any other damage present on the extinguishers.
  • Don’t use extinguishers for anything other than fighting fires.


If you have questions or want to contact us directly, email us at or call us at 800-727-5051.