If you’re like many people, you’re unaware of the different types of fire extinguishers, what they do, and what they contain. You may also be unaware of when you should use each type of fire extinguisher. This guide explains Class A, B, C and D fire extinguishers so you know the differences between each.

Know Your Fire Extinguishers: What Types of Fire Extinguisher Should You Use?

Different types of fires require different types of chemicals to put them out. There are four main types of fire extinguishers, which the following sections explain.

Class A Fire Extinguishers

Class A fire extinguishers are for items like wood, cloth, trash, paper and plastics. These are all solid, combustible materials.

Class B Fire Extinguishers

Class B fire extinguishers are flammable liquids, such as gasoline, oil and grease, and acetone. These fire extinguishers put out fires caused by flammable gases, too.

Class C Fire Extinguishers

Class C fire extinguishers are for electrical equipment. If something plugs in to the wall, and the fire stems from the electricity, a Class C fire extinguisher is usually appropriate.

Class D Fire Extinguishers

Class D fire extinguishers aren’t extremely common in homes and businesses. That’s because therefore metals often found in laboratories and industrial settings. These fire extinguishers can be used on fires involving potassium, sodium, aluminum, and magnesium, too.

Quick Reference Guide to Fire Extinguisher Types

Class A Wood





Class B Gasoline




Other flammable non-metals in liquid states

Class C Electrical
Class D Metals





How Do You Know What Type of Fire Extinguisher You Have?

Fire extinguishers are labeled based on the type of fires they can fight. Your fire extinguisher will most likely say whether it’s Class A comma B, C or D.

What if You Use the Wrong Type of Fire Extinguisher on a Fire?

Unfortunately, if you use the wrong type of fire extinguisher on a fire, you’re very likely to make matters worse. It’s important for home- and business owners to get familiar with the various types of fire extinguishers to ensure safety and to prevent further damage to property.

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