A Guide to CO2 Fire Extinguishers
CO2 fire extinguishers are the only ones recommended for use on electrical fires. They’re also suitable for class B fires.
Class B: Flammable liquids – petrol, diesel, spirits, greases, oils & oil-based paints.
How to recognise them
Carbon dioxide fire extinguisher
s have a recognisable black label, making them easy to identify.
You’ll need to purchase a C02 fire extinguisher sign too – it’ll draw attention to the extinguisher’s location and let you know if a CO2 fire extinguisher is missing.
How it works
A fire needs heat, fuel and oxygen to burn. Carbon dioxide extinguishers fight fires by displacing oxygen. Without oxygen, the fire triangle is incomplete.
No harmful substances
Unlike other extinguishers, no harmful substances are released.
This means that you don’t have to worry about using them in enclosed spaces. They also won’t damage your home or office furnishings.
Normally, wet fire extinguishers (water, additive, foam and wet chemical) should not be used to fight electrical fires as they could cause an electric shock. As you know, water and electricity do not mix. However, some of these extinguishers will have passed the 35kV conductivity of discharge test, which means they shouldn’t cause an electric shock if used on electrical fires.
Other fire extinguishers (L2, M28 and dry powder extinguishers) won’t cause a shock, but they may damage your devices. This doesn’t matter too much; the fire will already have damaged the appliance! However, nearby devices, which would have otherwise be fine, may be damaged if hit by residue.
CO2 extinguishers don’t release any substances that can harm your devices, or cause an electric shock. They’re the only ones recommended for use on electrical appliances.
CO2 fire extinguisher horns
The carbon dioxide released from the extinguisher is incredibly cold, and can cause freeze burns if you use the extinguisher incorrectly.
Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers have a discharge horn. Take care to hold the horn during use.
You can always purchase and attach different horns to your extinguisher for additional safety. One popular choice is the double-walled, frost-free horn.
For ease of use, opt for a CO2 extinguisher horn that has a handle attachment, or a swivel horn.
Light and easy to use
Carbon dioxide extinguishers are made from aluminium, which makes them light and easy to use when fighting a fire, while still keeping the C02 under high pressure.
Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers are highly pressurised. It’s important that you handle them with care, and keep them away from sources of heat (including sunlight and radiators).
They like to be different…
CO2 fire extinguishers are normally smaller than other extinguishers of the same capacity.
This means that they will always need specialist mounting brackets, plinths and stands. If ever you see a mounting accessory described as universal, check whether this includes CO2 fire extinguishers. Chances are, it won’t.