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A close-up of a fire extinguisher gauge

Dry Powder Fire Extinguishers

What types of fire should a Dry Powder fire extinguisher be used on?

  • Dry Powder fire extinguishers are for use on Class A fires, such as on wood, paper and fabrics and Class B fires, involving flammable liquids such as petrol or solvents. 

  • In addition, they can be used on Class C fires involving flammable gases as well as some electrical fires. As such, they are a particularly versatile fire extinguisher.

When not to use a Dry Powder fire extinguisher

Class F fires

Class F fires, for example cooking fires, such as from a chip pan. There is a reignition risk due to the fact that the powder does not cool the burning oil and may also spatter the oil and spread the fire.

Enclosed areas

They are also not suitable for use in enclosed areas due to the impact it can have on breathing and on vision, or on electrical equipment fires of over 1000v.

A collection of water, powder and CO2 fire extinguishers

How to recognise a Dry Powder fire extinguisher

Dry Powder fire extinguishers are red in colour with a blue coloured label reading ‘Powder’ along with instructions for use. In addition to this, you should find an identification sign above the extinguisher with the categories of fire that it can/can’t be used on.

 What are the common Dry Powder extinguisher sizes available?

Dry Powder extinguishers come in 1 litre, 2 litre, 3 litre, 6 litre and 9 litre sizes. Consideration must be given to the weight and capacity of each size option. For example, the 9 litre Dry Powder extinguisher is significantly heavier, making it less easy to handle and move.

How do Dry Powder extinguishers work?

Dry Powder extinguishers are effective as they create a wall of fine powder between the fire and the oxygen in the air. This smothers the fire and the chemicals within the powder further act to dampen the flames, best used in well ventilated areas.

Which environments require Dry Powder fire extinguishers?

The versatility of a Dry Powder extinguisher makes it suitable for a wide range of scenarios, including industrial sites, garages, on board vehicles and boats as well as in workshops and storage facilities.

How to use a Dry Powder extinguisher:

Foam extinguishers are a versatile option and are a common choice for use in hospitality settings, offices, warehouses and factories.


Foam extinguishers are often paired with CO2 extinguishers, to cover the risk of electrical fires.

How to use a Dry Powder fire extinguisher:

Following identification of the type of fire as Class A, B, C or electrical - and not in an enclosed area - ensure it is safe to approach the fire without risking your safety. 


  1. If the fire is electrical, ensure the power is turned off.

  2. At a safe distance away, remove the metal safety pin to break the plastic tamper seal.

  3. Hold the handle with one hand and the hose with the other. Aim the hose at the base of the fire, not at the flames themselves.

  4. Squeeze the handle to propel the powder towards the source of the flames.

  5. Use a sweeping motion to move the jet of powder from side to side until the fire is extinguished. 

  6. Once the fire is extinguished, you should call your fire protection company to service the extinguisher.

To learn more about fire and how to use fire extinguishers, there is online learning available here.

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