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A close-up of a fire extinguisher gauge

Foam Fire Extinguishers

What types of fire should a Foam fire extinguisher be used on?

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

  • The foam acts as a cooling agent on the burning materials in Class A fires and forms a barrier, to smother the fire and reduce the chance of re-ignition. 

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

When not to use a Foam fire extinguisher

Water extinguishers should not be used on:


Class C fires

Those which involve gas, such as from camping gas canisters.


Electrical fires

Unless the extinguisher has been specifically labelled otherwise. Even then, foam extinguishers are not specifically designed for use on electrical fires and can also damage sensitive equipment.

Class F fires

Cooking fires, such as from a chip pan. Again, the water can cause the burning oil to spread and worsen the fire.


How to recognise a Foam fire extinguisher

Foam fire extinguishers are red in colour with cream label reading ‘Foam’ 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 Foam fire extinguisher sizes available?

Foam extinguishers come in 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 foam extinguisher is significantly heavier, making it less easy to handle and move. 

How do Foam fire extinguishers work?

Foam extinguishers are effective as the water base of the foam cools the burning material(s), dampening the fire and reducing the likelihood of it spreading. The foam coats the fire to seal in flammable vapour and starves the fire of oxygen, further reducing the power of the fire.

Which environments require a Foam fire 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 Foam fire extinguisher:

  1. Following identification of the type of fire as Class A or Class B, ensure it is safe to approach the fire without risking your safety. 

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

  3. If dealing with a Class A fire, hold the handle with one hand and the hose with the other. Aim the hose at the base of the flames, not at the flames themselves.

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

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

  6. If dealing with a Class B fire, hold the handle with one hand and the hose with the other.

  7. Squeeze the handle. To avoid spreading the fire, aim the nozzle at a vertical surface adjacent to the fire. This allows the foam to blanket the flames and extinguish the fire.

  8. Once 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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