The 10 Best Fire Extinguishers
This wiki has been updated 27 times since it was first published in March of 2015. Every household, office, school and business should have at least one of these fire extinguishers prominently displayed in kitchens and other potentially dangerous areas. Our selections include disposable and rechargeable units suitable for fighting everything from grease flames to electrical blazes. Just remember: safety first, and in case of any emergency, call the fire department immediately. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
July 02, 2020:
While most of our previous selections proved to still be relevant through this round of updates, we did decide on removing the Kidde Proline Pro MP — noting that our rankings already included similar options for better prices, and the First Alert 2.5 Pound — which we’d previously listed as a budget-friendly choice, but is now sold in a pack of three. It should be noted that this option’s price per unit is still quite reasonable, but that won’t matter unless you have use for all three extinguishers. Our new selections are the Auto Fire Guard Fireball — which douses a 35-cubic-foot area with a single dose of flame-neutralizing dry chemicals within two to five seconds of coming into physical contact with the fire, and the Cold Fire All Season — which has no expiration date and works in temperatures as cold as -20 Fahrenheit.
A few things to think about for this category:
Compatibility: Not all fires are created equal, and not all extinguishers are suitable for putting out all fires. To help users navigate the purchase process and ensure they’re purchasing a unit that meets their needs, each extinguisher should be clearly labeled, making it easy to identify which classes of fire it can taken on.
In the United States, fire classes are as follows:
Class A: Fires fueled by combustible materials like woods and fabrics
Class B: Fires Fueled by flammable gases and liquids
Class C: Fires fueled by electricity
Class D: Fires fueled by flammable metals
Class K: Fires fueled by cooking oils and fats (grease fires)
While some models – like the Cold Fire All Season, which can take on class A, B, D and K fires – are equipped to take on most types of fires, other models aren’t quite as versatile. The water-based Amerex 240 is only recommended for use on class A fires, but is still favored by some because it won’t leave any sticky residue. Make sure that the unit you select is built to take on any class of fire that might come your way. It’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
Capacity: This isn’t necessarily the be-all-end-all consideration to base your purchase on – as other factors like chemical composition, range and discharge rate will all play a part in determining how well a given option fights flames – but it is one worth considering, as it speaks directly to each selection’s limitations.
Sizes vary tremendously in this category. Some small, aerosol-can options like the Mini Firefighter All Purpose contain just over eight ounces of extinguishant, while large models like the Amerex B260 feature a six-liter reservoir. Our recommendation is that you select the largest model that can reasonably fit in the storage space you have allotted for it. Again, it’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
Longevity: With any luck, you won’t be using this purchase anytime soon. And with that in mind, it makes good sense to select a model that’ll need to be replaced as infrequently as possible.
While models like the H3R Performance HG100C HalGuard, Amerex B260 and Auto Fire Guard Fireball are guaranteed for five years, other options are rated to last considerably longer. The First Alert Pro5 comes with a 12-year warranty, and the Cold Fire All Season purportedly has no expiration date.
Quelling The Savage Flame
When that pressure is released by the device, the gas expands and cools significantly, smothering the fire's oxygen and removing the flame's heat source at the same time.
Fire is one of the oldest and most dangerous chemical reactions known to man. If left unchecked, it causes rapid devastation of an extremely high magnitude. The potential dangers caused by fire necessitate an integral need to understand its dynamics, to learn about the available resources for containment, and to prevent (or mitigate) a disaster before it occurs or escalates. While professional firefighters undergo extensive training with special equipment to combat fires and other hazards on a large scale, the lay person doesn't always have these things at their disposal. The fire extinguisher serves an important role for ordinary consumers and business owners forced to deal with such eventualities in a domestic or professional capacity.
A fire extinguisher is a handheld, cylindrical-shaped device made from steel and typically red in color. Armed with one of several pressurized agents, the device is designed to put out small blazes that erupt in the home or place of business. The particular agent chosen for the extinguisher depends on the type of environment in which the device is to be used, as well as the class of fire it's designed to extinguish. Each individual agent works in tandem with a particular propellant inside the device to remove at least one element from the combustion triangle that defines the driving forces of a fire's energy.
Although extinguishers are available in several types, three major categories include water, dry chemical, and carbon dioxide. The water extinguisher is the most common type and uses compressed air as its propellant to remove a fire's heat source. A dry chemical extinguisher consists of a tank full of either foam or dry powder with compressed nitrogen for a propellant. Instead of removing heat, the dry chemical extinguisher smothers the fire, cutting off its fuel source from the surrounding oxygen. The carbon dioxide extinguisher contains a mixture of carbon dioxide in both its liquid and gaseous states. Carbon dioxide must be stored under high pressure in order to remain in its liquid form. When that pressure is released by the device, the gas expands and cools significantly, smothering the fire's oxygen and removing the flame's heat source at the same time.
Fire extinguishers are divided into several categories: A, B, C, D, and K, each one representing the corresponding type of fire it is meant to fight. Class A extinguishers handle fires caused by ordinary solid combustables like wood, cloth, and paper. Oil, gasoline, and paint fall into the class B category, while electrical equipment and tools constitute class C. Class D extinguishers handle fires caused by flammable metals, while class K devices are dedicated to quelling flames caused by cooking or vegetable oils.
Avoid Feeling The Burn
Safety for one's self, loved ones, and colleagues is the most important consideration to make when first installing a fire extinguisher in a home or place of business. Proper practical knowledge combined with an understanding of the different classes of device available, and the specific fires they're meant to combat, are all vital ingredients to remaining informed, prepared, and safe from danger. Your life will depend on it. Armed with the knowledge that a class C fire constitutes electrical equipment as the source, for example, one is ill advised to use a water extinguisher to combat at electrical fire. Everyone in the family should also be taught how to operate the device in the event of an emergency. Installing the fire extinguisher in a location that is easy to access and close to an exit is also beneficial, so you don't have to run past any flames to leave the area if the fire gets out of control.
The fire extinguisher chosen should be lightweight enough for anyone in the family to grab quickly and easily.
The fire extinguisher chosen should be lightweight enough for anyone in the family to grab quickly and easily. A good canister weight is between five and 10 pounds, which provides enough extinguishing agent to take care of most kinds of domestic fires. The device chosen should also be equipped with clearly-indicated instructions on its outer canister and an easy-to-read pressure gauge.
One must consider whether a rechargeable or disposable extinguisher works best around the house. Rechargeable units are typically more durable and expensive than disposable units. They are equipped with metal valves and are relatively easy to refill, which are qualities that come in handy when you need to place several extinguishers around the house and you don't want to have to replace them each time they're used.
A Brief History Of Fire Extinguishers
Although human curiosity for controlling fire has a deep-seeded history that dates back over one million years, the first rudimentary fire extinguisher didn't appear until 1666 during the Middle Ages. A device known as a squirt was used as a simple jet of water applied to the base of a fire. Functioning like a bicycle pump, the device's nozzle was dipped into water and used to suck up the liquid with plunger-like action. The nozzle was then directed toward the base of a fire and used to eject the water.
Igniting the fuses caused the gunpowder to explode, dispersing the extinguishing agent.
The first automatic fire extinguisher was patented in 1723 by English chemist Ambrose Godfrey. Godfrey's device consisted of a cask filled with an extinguishing agent and a pewter chamber of gunpowder connected to a series of fuses. Igniting the fuses caused the gunpowder to explode, dispersing the extinguishing agent.
The modern portable fire extinguisher was invented by British Captain George William Manby in 1818, which consisted of a copper vessel containing a solution of potassium carbonate and compressed air.
By 1924, the first carbon dioxide extinguisher was invented by the Walter Kidde Company as a response to a previous request for a non-conductive chemical for extinguishing fires coming from telephone switchboards.
Recent developments since the middle of the 20th century have included the expanded use of pressurized extinguishing agents, water mist extinguishers, and aerosol systems.