Fire Extinguishers

If you find a fire in your home, the best thing to do is get out, stay out and dial 999.

Fighting fires is best left to the professionals and isn’t worth the risk.

However, if you have a fire extinguisher that you could use to put out a fire that’s small and in one place, then you need to know before hand how to use it properly and safely.

Before you make any attempt to stop a fire with an extinguisher, call 999 first.

  • Make sure the fire is contained before trying to put it out yourself
  • Make sure you use the right type of extinguisher for the fire
  • Keep your fire extinguisher somewhere that’ll be easy to reach in an emergency
  • Keep an extinguisher in your kitchen – this is where most fires start
  • Read the instructions for your extinguisher regularly
  • Recharge or replace any extinguisher that’s been used at all
  • Make sure extinguishers are serviced properly once a year
  • Put a fire blanket and a dry powder or foam extinguisher in caravans and motor homes.
You should never -
  • Put yourself in danger – when using a fire extinguisher always stand between the fire and the exit
  • Use a fire extinguisher on oil or fat pan fires – the jet from an extinguisher can force the burning oil or fat out of the pan. Use a fire blanket or a wet towel that’s been wrung out
  • Throw water on a burning fat or oil pan – it will cause an explosion of burning liquid!
  • Keep your fire extinguishers over the cooker or a heater.

Types of fire extinguisher

Dry Powder:

Safe for use on most types of fire (if you’re careful) except on oil or fat pan fires.


Can be used on wood, paper or cloth. Never use water on an electrical fire, on liquids or grease, or on oil or fat pan fires.


Very effective and safe for general use, except on electrical, oil or fat pan fires.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2):

For electrical fires and fires with flammable liquids, except oil or fat pan fires.

Fire blankets:

Fire blankets are good to have in the kitchen. They can be used to smother oil or fat pan fires. If a person’s clothes catch fire, they can be wrapped around the person until the flames go out. If you don’t have a fire blanket, use a damp towel in the same way.

All new fire extinguishers should meet British Safety Standards (BS EN3, 1996).