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Fire extingushers 
Fire extingushers 

When to use them

It is only safe to try and use fire extinguishers when:

  • everyone has been evacuated and accounted for at a safe meeting place
  • the fire service has been called
  • it is safe to do so considering the size and location of the fire
  • you can safety access and retreat from the fire.

Remember life is more important than property — don't put yourself or others at risk.

Types of fire extinguishers?

There are many different types of fire extinguishers:

  • Water
  • Foam
  • Wet chemical
  • Dry powder
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Vaporising liquid
  • Specialised materials for Class D fires.


The type of fire extinguisher you need will depend on the class of fire you are most likely to experience and there are 6 classes of fire:

  • Class A (Wood paper plastics)
  • Class B (Flammable & combustible liquids)
  • Class C (Flammable gases)
  • Class D (Fires involving combustible metals)
  • Class E (Electrically energised equipment)
  • Class F (Cooking oils and fats)


Which extinguisher is best?

Where to install a fire extinguisher

  • Mount fire extinguishers on a wall out of the normal reach of children.
  • Place fire extinguishers in noticeable places where they can be accessed safely. Suggestions include:
  • In or near the kitchen – not too close to the stove or cooking surfaces.
  • Ideally have an extinguisher in the garage and one in the car.
  • Caravans should have one attached to the inside of the door.
  • Boats should have one mounted in a protected area where it can be reached from the open deck.
  • Operating the extinguisher

When operating a fire extinguisher remember PASS:

  • Pull the safety pin or remove the clip.
  • Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire from a safe distance. Most extinguishers are designed to be operated from about 2 - 3 metres away.
  • Squeeze the handles.
  • Sweep the extinguisher from side to side while aiming at the base of the fire.

Extinguishers and hazardous substances

A fire extinguisher is required in every place where explosive, flammable or oxidising substances are held above certain quantities. As a general rule, you don’t need to add up the number of extinguishers required for all substances present, you only need the highest number specified for any hazardous substance present.


Additional firefighting equipment is specified for tanks where large volumes of particularly hazardous substances (Class 2.1.1 or 3.1) are stored. In these cases you will need a test certificate for the tank and your test certifier can advise what additional firefighting equipment is needed.


The number of fire extinguishers is detailed in schedule 3 of the Emergency Management Regulations

Which fire extinguisher is best?

House

Best choice of fire extinguisher

Wet Chemical and ABE Dry Powder (NZS 4503)
Minimum rating 1A:E. Preferred rating 1A:E:IF.

 

Alternative choice of fire extinguisher

ABE Dry Powder and Fire Blanket

 

Considerations

  • A cooking oil or fat fire in the kitchen is the most likely type of fire to occur in your home. So your first choice of an extinguisher should be able to extinguish cooking oil and fat fires.
  • While an ABE Dry Powder extinguisher is suitable for other types of fire in your home NEVER use it on a cooking oil or fat fire.

    Cooking fires can spread violently if the pressure from a dry powder type extinguisher is pointed into burning fat or deep fry cooking fires. The best extinguisher for these types of fires is a wet chemical extinguisher, which has a more gentle application process designed for these fires.

  • A Wet Chemical extinguisher is best for extinguishing cooking oil and fat fires and can also be used on most other classes of fire in the home.  Don’t use wet chemical extinguishers on fires with a live electrical source.
  • Protect your home against the widest range of fire hazards with both an ABE Dry Powder extinguisher and a Wet Chemical extinguisher.
  • You can also use a fire blanket as an alternative to a wet chemical extinguisher for cooking oil and fat fires.
  • The wet chemical extinguisher or fire blanket should be positioned close to the kitchen, on an escape route to the outside.
  • As electricity may pose a significant secondary hazard, ensure power is isolated before extinguishing a stove-top fire.

Garage

Best choice of fire extinguisher

ABE Dry Powder (NZS 4503)
Minimum rating 2A:20B:E. Preferred rating 2A:40B:E

 

Alternative choice of fire extinguisher

Foam

 

Considerations

  • Unwanted fires in a garage or shed will most likely be influenced by your hobbies and activities carried out in there.
  • Flammable liquid fires present a major concern if you have fuels, paints and solvents in your garage or shed.

Car

Best choice of fire extinguisher

ABE Dry Powder

 

Alternative choice of fire extinguisher

Foam

 

Considerations

  • Fires in cars most often happen because of a collision, repairs to bodywork using welding equipment, or electrical faults.
  • The presence of flammable fuels is the major concern.
  • Electrical equipment is not usually of concern due to the low voltage used in cars.
  • An extinguisher should be securely fastened, preferably in the boot space, to avoid the risk of injury in the event of a collision.

Boat

Best choice of fire extinguisher

Wet Chemical and ABE Dry Powder

 

Alternative choice of fire extinguisher

ABE Dry Powder and Fire Blanket
Foam

 

Considerations

  • Boat fires are also likely to involve flammable liquids or result from a gas explosion from leaking LPG or CNG.
  • Wet Chemical extinguishers, good for cooking oil or fat fires, are not suitable for use on liquid fuel fires.
  • Foam extinguishers, good for flammable liquids, will have limited effect on cooking oil and fat fires.
  • The electrical supply on the boat will need to be considered if a 230-volt system is used.  Wet chemical and foam extinguishers are not suitable for use on live electrical sources.

Caravan

Best choice of fire extinguisher

Wet chemical and ABE Dry Powder

 

Alternative choice of fire extinguisher

ABE Dry Powder and Fire Blanket

 

Considerations

  • A cooking oil or fat fire in the kitchen is the most likely type of fire to occur in your caravan. So your first choice of an extinguisher should be able to extinguish cooking oil and fat fires and should be positioned close to the escape route to the outside.

 

FAQs

HOFFE Project

In New Zealand, fire extinguishers have always been considered as specified systems, by interpretation of the law, and then their maintenance was mandatory. However, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has issued a clarification which removes fire extinguishers of the list of specified systems. Read more....