Understanding the different types of Australian Standard fire extinguishers.

Bulbeck Fire on 9 August 2016

Fire extinguishers are an essential part of the fire safety plan for any workplace. In the event of a small fire, your employees will be able to use a fire extinguisher to bring the fire under control, or to clear a path to safety.

The design and manufacturing of fire extinguishers are strictly regulated. All fire extinguishers in Australian workplaces and homes must meet safety standards for effectiveness and reliability. However, there are different types of fire extinguisher that are designed to deal with different types of fires.

This is an introduction to what an Australian Standard fire extinguisher is and when the different types are effective.

Australian Standard fire extinguishers

All Australian Standard fire extinguishers must be tested by an officially accredited Certification Body approved by the Joint Accreditation System for Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ).

Australian standard fire extinguishers

Our Australian standard fire extinguishers are certified.

One such accreditor is SAI Global; fire extinguishers tested by SAI Global carry a red and white sticker with five tick marks – known as the StandardsMark.

The StandardsMark indicates that the product has been certified, and it meets the necessary compliance and safety standards.

All fire extinguishers sold in Australia must carry a sticker from an officially accredited Certification Body.

SAI Global certification means that a product meets strict safety and performance standards and has gone through rigorous testing.

SAI Global StandardsMark Certification

This includes an on-site inspection of the factory and an assessment of the manufacturing process as well as ongoing maintenance and safety requirements.

The regulation of Australian Standard fire extinguishers means that their construction and the effectiveness of the fire suppressant material will not differ to a significant degree between different manufacturers.

Fire extinguisher types

Fire extinguishers work by eliminating one or more of the three things a fire needs: heat, fuel, and oxygen. And the type of extinguisher used on a fire depends primarily on the type of fuel it's burning.

Not every type of suppressant will be effective or safe to use on every type of fire. That's why different extinguisher types are filled with different types of fire suppressants.

The different classes of fire are determined by the type of fuel, these include:

Fire classType of Fire
A Combustibles such as paper, wood, and plastics
B Flammable liquids
C Flammable gases
D Metal fires
E Energised electrical equipment
F Cooking oils and fats

The different types of fire suppression are effective on different fire classes as follows:

Fire extinguisher suppressant typeEffective fire class uses
Dry chemical powder A, B, C, E
CO2 A*, B*, E
Water A
Foam A, B, F*
Wet chemical A, F

* Indicates that the suppressant material has limited effectiveness for that fire class.

Being adequately prepared

Fire extinguisher labelling

Fire extinguishers must be clearly labelled with the types of fires that it can be used on.

Installing fire extinguishers as part of a fire safety plan requires a technical understanding of the fire risks posed.

Being adequately prepared means understanding the environment in terms of the most likely type of fire to occur there – be it residential, commercial, or industrial.

That way, the correct extinguisher type(s) can be properly placed within the work environment.

By law, each type of fire extinguisher must be clearly labelled with the types of fires that it can be used on safely and effectively. Labelling includes the lettered fire class as well as a picture of that type of fire.

This ensures the fire extinguisher can be used safely by someone who is not familiar with the different fire classes and extinguisher types.

Expert fire safety advice

Getting specialist fire safety advice for your workplace will ensure that you have the right kind of fire extinguishers to combat the type of fires that could occur. A fire safety expert will also ensure you have a comprehensive and compliant fire safety plan.

Bulbeck Fire Industries are leaders in fire extinguisher manufacturing and fire safety compliance. We provide industry-specific advice and solutions as well as client-focused services.

For more information about fire extinguisher safety and compliance, call our team on 1800 530 401.