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What are the fire extinguisher colours?

Fire extinguisher colours in the UK, Fire extinguishers are essential pieces of safety equipment that can be found in many public and private buildings around the UK. They are used to fight fires and help prevent further damage to property and lives. Fire extinguishers come in a variety of colours, each colour having a specific purpose and use. The purpose of colour coding is to help people identify the type of fire extinguisher they need for a particular type of fire. It is important to understand the colour codes and the types of fire extinguishers available in order to ensure proper safety when dealing with a fire.

The six main colours used for fire extinguishers in the UK are Signal Red (Water), Signal Red (Mist), Blue, Yellow, Black and Cream. Each colour has a specific meaning and is used to denote the type of fire extinguisher and the type of fire it is suitable for. The colour of the handle, label and body of the fire extinguisher will usually match the colour of the extinguisher. It is essential to understand the colour codes and the types of fire extinguishers available in order to ensure proper safety when dealing with a fire.

Colour Coding:

  • Definition of colour coding
  • The 6 main colours used in the UK
  • The specific types of fires that each colour is used for
  • The colour of the handle, label and body
  • The importance of understanding the colour coding

Types of Fire Extinguishers:

  • Water fire extinguishers
  • Foam fire extinguishers
  • Dry powder fire extinguishers
  • Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers
  • Wet chemical fire extinguishers
  • The differences between each type
  • The uses of each type

Maintenance and Safety:

  • The importance of regular maintenance
  • The importance of regular inspections
  • The need to check the pressure gauge
  • The need to check the expiry date
  • The need to check the nozzle and hose
  • Extinguisher Visual Inspection Guidance

Fire Extinguisher Colour Codes

Colour coding is the process of assigning specific colours to objects in order to differentiate them and make them easier to identify. In the UK, fire extinguishers are colour coded to indicate the type of fire they are suitable for. The five fire extinguisher colours used are Signal Red (Water) Signal Red (Mist), Blue, Yellow, Black and Cream.

Signal Red (Water), The newest type of extinguisher. These very powerful, but smaller, devices exude an ultra-fine mist of microscopic ‘dry’ demineralised water particles. They are safe and effective to use on Class A, B, C and F fires, making it unnecessary to supply more than one type of extinguisher in most premises.

Signal Red (Mist), The newest type of extinguisher. These very powerful, but smaller, devices exude an ultra-fine mist of microscopic ‘dry’ demineralised water particles. They are safe and effective to use on Class A, B, C and F fires, making it unnecessary to supply more than one type of extinguisher in most premises. Some are also suitable for use on electrical fires on equipment up to 1,000 Volts, such as computers and printers.

They work by cooling the fire and reducing the oxygen supply.

Blue are suitable for fighting burning solids, liquids and gases (Class A, B and C fires). Specialist powder extinguishers are designed to tackle type D fires involving combustible metals such as lithium, magnesium, or aluminium. They work by the powder forming a crust that smothers the fire and stops it from spreading.

Yellow, (wet chemical extinguishers)  these are the only extinguishers apart from water mist suitable for Class F fires (fats and cooking oils) and are mainly used in kitchens with deep fat fryers. 

They can also be used on Class A. They consist of a pressurised solution of alkali salts in water, which, when operated, creates a fine mist, cooling the flames and preventing splashing.

Black, these contain only pressuriSed carbon dioxide gas and therefore leave no residue. They are suitable for use on fires involving burning liquids (Class B), and fires involving electrical equipment, such as of large computer equipment, so are practical in offices. CO2 works by suffocating the fire and does not cause damage to the electrical items or cause the system to short circuit. 

AFFF Cream, The foam smothers the fire in solids and liquids (Class A and B), but not in burning fats or cooking oils (Class F). They can be used on some electrical fires if they have been tested and if fired from 1 metre away. However, they leave a residue that has to be cleaned up.

Fire Extinguishers Types

There are many different types of fire extinguishers available on the market for all the different possible applications.

Water fire extinguishers are the most common type and are suitable for use on Class A fires, such as those involving wood, paper, textiles and other combustible materials. Foam fire extinguishers are suitable for use on Class B fires, such as those involving flammable liquids, such as petrol and oil. Dry powder fire extinguishers are suitable for use on Class C fires, such as those involving flammable gases. Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers are suitable for use on Class E fires, such as those involving electrical equipment. Wet chemical fire extinguishers are suitable for use on Class F fires, such as those involving cooking oils and fats.

Each type of fire extinguisher has its own specific uses and advantages. Water fire extinguishers are the most common type and are suitable for use on Class A fires. They are effective at cooling the fire and smothering the flames. Foam fire extinguishers are suitable for use on Class B fires and are effective at smothering the flames and preventing the fire from spreading. Dry powder fire extinguishers are suitable for use on Class C fires and are effective at smothering the flames and preventing the fire from spreading. Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers are suitable for use on Class E fires and are effective at smothering the flames and preventing the fire from spreading. Wet chemical fire extinguishers are suitable for use on Class F fires and are effective at cooling the fire and smothering the flames.

 

  • Water – Class A fires
  • Water Mist – Class A, F fires ( suitable for B & C )
  • Foam – Class A, B fires
  • Dry Powder – Class A, B, C, Electrical fires
  • Carbon Dioxide – Class B, Electrical fires
  • Specialist Powder – Class D fires

Maintenance and Safety

It is important to regularly maintain and inspect fire extinguishers in order to ensure that they are in good working order. This includes checking the pressure gauge, the expiry date, the nozzle and hose, and the overall condition of the extinguisher. It is also important to follow safety regulations when using fire extinguishers. This includes ensuring that the correct type of extinguisher is used for the type of fire, and that the extinguisher is operated in the correct manner.

Extinguisher monthly visual checks will help you identify any emerging issues with your Portable Fire Fighting Equipment.

Extinguishers in commercial or public buildings should be visually inspected monthly for damage or pressure loss and should be serviced to BS 5306-3 once a year. Water, foam and powder extinguishers have to be discharged and refilled every five years. CO2 extinguishers must be refurbished after ten years

This routine will identify any areas of concern that will enable you to maintain equipment via Competent Engineer.

Extinguisher Visual Inspection Guidance – Ensure:

1: Each extinguisher is correctly fitted in its designated location.
2: Each extinguisher is in sight and unobstructed.
3: The operating instructions are clear, clean and facing outward.
4: Each extinguisher has not been operated, is not obviously damaged ordoes not have any missing parts.
5: Any gauges fitted to the extinguisher indicate within operational limits.
6: The seals or tamper indicators are in-tact or not missing.
7: All extinguishers have the correct ID Signs.

Conclusion

it is important to understand the different fire extinguisher colours and types in order to ensure proper safety when dealing with a fire. The main colours used in the UK are signal red (water), Signal red (mist), blue, yellow, AFFF cream and black, and each colour is used to denote the type of fire extinguisher and the type of fire it is suitable for, each with its own specific uses and advantages. It is also important to regularly maintain and inspect fire extinguishers, and to follow safety regulations when using them. Understanding and using the right fire extinguisher for the right type of fire is vital for ensuring proper safety.

Water Fire Extinguishers London City Fire
Wet Chem Fire Extinguishers London City Fire
Water mist Fire Extinguishers London City Fire
Powder 2 Fire Extinguishers London City Fire
Foam 2 Fire Extinguishers London City Fire
Carbon Dioxide 3 set Fire Extinguishers London City Fire

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