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A Guide to Different Fire Extinguishers

A house fire can happen to anyone, for any number of reasons. As much as we hate to admit it, there are so many factors outside our control. But what you can control is your preparedness for the unexpected.

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Buying a basic fire extinguisher for your household is the first step in the right direction. In this guide, we’ll talk a little about what to expect from a fire extinguisher before introducing you to the top five extinguishers on the market today. Let’s dive in.

Pros and Cons of Having a Fire Extinguisher

While purchasing a fire extinguisher (or several) for your household is a positive step toward ensuring the safety of your home, a fire extinguisher can also pose a couple of inconveniences. But really, any inconvenience you face with your fire extinguisher will be more than made up for by its positive qualities! Let’s take a look.

Pros

Extra Layer of Safety

One obvious advantage of owning a fire extinguisher is the extra layer of safety it provides.

We all like to think that fires happen to other people, or that our home environment is too safe for us to worry over fire hazards. But the truth is, any home can catch fire—even when we follow safety guidelines!

From a freak accident in the kitchen to a fallen powerline or a stray cigarette butt, a fire can catch you by surprise. That’s why having at least one fire extinguisher on hand is crucial in maintaining a safe household.

Inexpensive

Better still is the fact that you can get this added layer of safety at a crazy-affordable price! A single fire extinguisher ranges from $12-$50 depending on the brand, type, and quality—you can also save a bit of money by buying them in bulk. If you could make your home safer and provide peace of mind for you and yours, all for a miniscule price, why wouldn’t you?

Long-Lasting

Best of all? That little bit of money you spend on a fire extinguisher will go a long way. The average fire extinguisher will last anywhere from five to fifteen years, depending on factors such as the brand and type. Purchasing a fire extinguisher could mean over a decade of sleeping well at night, knowing you have a plan should the unexpected occur.

Cons

Require Storage

Fire extinguishers do require storage, which could be inconvenient if you live in a smaller-sized house or have limited storage space. Some extinguishers can be wall-mounted or stored on their side, which might make the storage aspect a bit easier for you.

Keep in mind that while fire extinguishers should be located close to potential hazard areas, they should be kept far enough away to avoid being caught in the actual fire. They should also be stored in temperatures above -40 degrees Fahrenheit and below 120 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure their longevity.

Need to be Replaced

While a good fire extinguisher can last a decade or longer, there does come a time when it will need to be replaced. This is because the charge of the extinguishing agent can diminish over time and the container may lose its pressurization. Both of these events will cause the agent to become far less effective, and therefore close to useless in the event of a fire.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still interested in purchasing a fire extinguisher? Great! Before we move to our top picks, let’s go over some of the most commonly asked questions about fire extinguishers.

What are the 4 classes of fire extinguishers?

There are four main classes of fire extinguishers: A, B, C, and D. There is also a fifth class, K, which is used primarily for kitchen- and cooking-related fires. Here’s a breakdown:

  • A: Class A fire extinguishers are ideal for putting out fires involving easily combustible, solid materials like wood, cloth, or paper. Their extinguisher type is normally water- or dry chemical-based.
  • B: Class B fire extinguishers are ideal for putting out fires involving a flammable liquid like oil, alcohol, or gasoline. This type of extinguisher keeps the fire from getting the oxygen it needs to continue growing, while also keeping combustible vapors from being released. In a sense, it suppresses the fire until it dies down.
  • C: Class C fire extinguishers are ideal for use on fires involving electrical equipment. The extinguisher is normally monoammonium phosphate-based or sodium bicarbonate-based, as these chemical compounds are unable to conduct heat and are therefore safer for use in electrical fire situations.
  • D: Class D fire extinguishers are ideal for use on fires involving combustible metals. These extinguishers are normally dry powder-based and are typically used in laboratory or workshop settings where metal fires are likely.

You can also find fire extinguishers labeled ‘ABC.’ These are suitable for putting out A, B, and C fires.

What is the best fire extinguisher for home use?

Most people find that an ‘ABC’ fire extinguisher is the most convenient option for home use, as these can extinguish a variety of fire types. In addition, home cooks should keep a Class K extinguisher somewhere in the kitchen to put out potential cooking-related fires before they get out of hand.

What is a requirement for fire extinguishers?

While homes are not required to have a fire extinguisher, all other building types are. The specific requirements vary from one building to another, based on a number of factors:

  • The building’s size
  • The type of building it is (apartment, restaurant, etc.)
  • The type of fire hazards expected in that building

These factors dictate how many extinguishers are required, where they should be placed, what type they should be, and more.

Generally, a fire extinguisher should be in a visible, easily accessible location. It needs to be labeled and unobstructed, so that it can be reached in the event of an emergency. You can find more detailed information on the OSHA and NFPA websites. For home use, experts recommend having one fire extinguisher per floor (as well as one in the kitchen).

What are the 6 main types of fire extinguishers?

In addition to the five classes, there are six main types of fire extinguishers:

  • ABC Powder: This powder suffocates the fire and can be used for A-, B-, or C-class fires.
  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2): This is mainly used for B-class fires, as it keeps the fire from getting more oxygen.
  • Wet Chemical: This type of extinguisher is best for K-class fires, but can also be used for class-A fires. It cools the fire before turning it into a soap-like substance.
  • Water Mist: This type of extinguisher may be the most versatile and safe to use across different fire classes. It cools and suffocates the fire, and the de-ionized water is safe for use on electrical fires.
  • Foam: Foam extinguishers both cool and suffocate the fire, and are best for use on class A and B fires.
  • Clean Agent: This type of extinguisher is best for gaseous fires. Its nonconductive Halon composition chokes out the fire and can be used even in rooms with electrical equipment.

The Top 5 Fire Extinguishers

Now that you have a better idea of what you’re dealing with, it’s time to dive into our top five fire extinguisher picks. These are products from trusted brands, and each one offers a high degree of quality and safety.

First Alert 1038789 Standard Home Fire Extinguisher

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Looking for a versatile fire extinguisher to combat any fire your home could face? Then the Standard Home Fire Extinguisher from trusted brand First Alert may be just what you need.

This extinguisher uses a monoammonium phosphate agent, which is perfect for fighting class A, B, and C fires. Whether a stray spark from the fireplace lands on the carpet or your gas stove starts smoking, you can rest assured that this reliable fire extinguisher will have no problems putting it out.

The extinguishing agent is housed in a durable metal exterior, complete with a metal safety pin to keep the contents where they belong—inside the container until you need it! It also features an easy-to-read gauge that’s conveniently color-coded and resistant to corrosion. In a pinch, you’ll also appreciate the simple, waterproof instructions on its label.

Should the time come when you have to use this bad boy, rest in peace knowing that you can have it recharged by professionals for future use.

For your convenience, this extinguisher comes with its own bracket to make storage that much easier! Throw in a whopping 10-year limited warranty, and you have the ideal fire extinguisher for your home.

Who Should Buy It?

Anyone looking for a versatile and convenient extinguisher for basic home use.

Pros:

  • Durable metal exterior
  • Versatile use for A, B, and C fires
  • Directions are easy to read and follow
  • Comes with bracket

Cons:

  • Some units had little or no charge upon arrival

Amerex Dry Chemical Class Fire Extinguisher

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This sturdy, durable, and reliable fire extinguisher from Amerex will be a perfect addition to any home’s or workplace’s safety plan!

Its dry chemical extinguishing agent is designed to put out class A, B, and C fires. Whatever unexpected fire emergency comes around, know that this extinguisher’s 14-second discharge time will have your back—and then some. You’ll also appreciate its durable metal exterior and steel cylinders, both of which promote a long shelf life and reliable usage when the time comes. This unit can be recharged by professionals after use, so that’s one less thing to fret over.

To help you out with the issue of storage, this extinguisher comes with a mounting hook. This will allow you to keep the extinguisher stored upright and out of the way.

This fire extinguisher comes with a 6-year warranty, so rest assured knowing that it will last a long time and serve you well.

Who Should Buy It?

Anyone looking for a high-end, long-lasting fire extinguisher for home or office use.

Pros:

  • Durable metal exterior
  • Steel cylinders for extra strength
  • Versatile use for A, B, and C fires
  • Dependable, long-lasting design
  • Comes with hook

Cons:

  • Some units arrived with broken tamper seals

EZ Fire Spray Fire Extinguishing Aerosol Spray

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When you think of a fire extinguisher, what comes to mind? A large, bulky, and pretty intimidating unit like the ones we’ve covered so far?

Well, scratch that.

First Alert has bent tradition with this aerosol-style fire extinguisher. But don’t be fooled by its small, unassuming appearance. It can fight fires with the best of them—even those pesky grease fires in the kitchen.

Not only is this extinguisher super-simple to use (you just aim and spray), but its small aerosol design and light weight make it easy to store just about anywhere. It’s ideal for keeping in the kitchen or taking with you on a road trip, and you can easily carry it from one part of the house to another. No more hauling a large metal canister around or struggling to release the extinguishing agent! Speaking of, this little aerosol can gives you an impressive 32-second release time so those grease fires won’t stand a chance.

Let’s say you find yourself in the unfortunate event where you need to actually use this. It puts out the fire, great…but what about the cleanup? Just as simple and user-friendly as everything else about this product. The biodegradable agent it uses can be easily wiped up using a damp cloth. Really, that’s all there is to it!

This little guy comes with a 3-year limited warranty, so you’re covered should anything go wrong.

Who Should Buy It?

Anyone who needs a lightweight, easy-to-use fire extinguisher that can be used in a variety of situations. This may be especially ideal for those with arthritis or for children who may struggle to use a full-size model in an emergency.

Pros:

  • Versatile for use on a variety of fires
  • Convenient aerosol design
  • Long 32-second release
  • Easy to store
  • Safe, easy-to-clean biodegradable formula

Cons:

  • Spray is a bit thin

First Alert HOME1 Rechargeable Home Fire Extinguisher 4-Pack

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Why buy one fire extinguisher when you can buy four?

Each fire extinguisher in this four-pack features a durable metal construction as well as a safety pin to prevent leaks. Their gauges are resistant to corrosion and boast an easy-to-read design, ensuring that you’ll always know how much fire-fighting power is left in a given extinguisher.

The monoammonium phosphate agent is perfect for putting out class A, B, and C fires. Whatever fire hazard comes your way, you can be at peace when you have a couple of these on each floor of your home! To make your life even easier, these extinguishers are roughly 2.5 pounds apiece so they’re much lighter than your average fire extinguisher.

For your convenience, this set comes with a bracket and strap for mounting. Do keep in mind that the strap is plastic and not metal, and some users decided to purchase a metal strap separately.

This pack comes with an amazing 10-year limited warranty.

Who Should Buy It?

Anyone looking to purchase multiple high-quality extinguishers for their home at a great price.

Pros:

  • 4-pack ideal for larger homes
  • Versatile use for A, B, and C fires
  • Durable metal construction
  • Gauge is corrosion-resistant and easy to read
  • Bracket and strap for mounting included

Cons:

  • Included strap is plastic, not metal

White First Alert Fire Extinguisher

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Finally: A fire extinguisher designed specifically for travel!

Whether you live an over-the-road lifestyle, love camping in the great outdoors, or want an extra layer of protection for your new boat, this is just the fire extinguisher you need. Its sodium bicarbonate agent is perfect for putting out class B and C fires, both of which are common in vehicles. You can purchase this fire extinguisher in a variety of models, each designed with a specific vehicle in mind: Boat, Car & Boat, Car, Personal Watercraft, and RV.

Its durable metal construction will keep this fire extinguisher looking and working like new for years to come. You’ll also enjoy its attractive white exterior, which will offer a more subtle appearance in your car, RV, or boat than one of those bright red ones would! It also comes with a bracket and strap for mounting to make storage that much easier for you.

This product comes with a 10-year warranty to give you that extra peace of mind.

Who Should Buy It?

Anyone who needs a reliable, high-quality fire extinguisher for their recreational vehicle.

Pros:

  • Durable metal construction
  • Designed for travel
  • Different models available
  • Attractive white exterior
  • Comes with bracket and strap

Cons:

  • Somewhat difficult to mount
  • Some buyers received wrong color

Conclusion

A fire extinguisher is one item you don’t want to rain check. You deserve a fire extinguisher that will rise to its calling when you need it most, so we’ve done our best to include only the top extinguishers on the market.

We hope you now have a better idea of what to expect from your future fire extinguisher, how to choose the best one for your needs, and where to look for the best options in your price range.

Remember: You’ve already taken a step in the right direction. Now it’s time to follow through and make your home or workplace that much safer.