Water fire extinguishers are one of the most common fire extinguishers on the market for commercial and domestic use. They are recommended for use on class A fires.

Contrary to what many people believe, water fire extinguishers cannot be used for many different types of fires. In fact, it can often make matters worse.

For this reason it is extremely important you understand how and when to use your water fire extinguisher.

Water Fire Extinguisher – What Colour Band?

Water fire extinguishers come in an all-red cylinder with no coloured band.

When To Use A Water Fire Extinguisher

Water fire extinguishers are used to extinguish class A fires, or in other words fires involving flammable solids such as paper, wood, and textile materials.

They are most commonly used within environments containing combustible materials such as warehouses, textile factories, storage facilities and office spaces.

It can also be beneficial to use a water fire extinguisher within a domestic setting such as living rooms and bedrooms.

Water fire extinguishers cannot be used on electrical fires.  Water is a conductor of electricity, and as such it could cause extreme damage if a water fire extinguisher is used. For this reason, it is a good idea to pair your water extinguisher with a CO2 fire extinguisher which is highly effective on electrical equipment.

To learn more about the different types of fires and fire extinguishers, please refer to this detailed chart.

Water Fire Extinguisher

How Does A Water Fire Extinguisher Work?

The three key elements that a fire requires to flourish are heat, fuel and oxygen. All fire extinguishers work by removing one or more of these 3 key elements.

By removing the heat from the fire, this eliminates one of the 3 key elements and extinguishes the fire. As the embers will remain hot it is important to continue to spray water until the area is completely cooled.

Class F Fire

Advantages of Water Fire Extinguishers

  • Water fire extinguishers are cost-effective as they are cheap to purchase and to refill.
  • Rapid reduction of flames due to the water extinguisher’s cooling properties.
  • Friendly for the environment and safe for the operator as water extinguishers contain only water and air.
  • Minimal to no clean up required after use.
  • Simple and easy to use.
Class A Fire Extinguisher Sign

Disadvantages Of A Water Fire Extinguishers

  • Limited use as it is only recommended for class A fires (paper, wood, and textile materials).
  • Possible chance of freezing. As it uses plain water it is possible for it to freeze in low temperatures.

How To Use Water Fire Extinguishers?

The working process of a water chemical fire extinguisher involves four simple steps called the PASS technique.

This is a universal process for all fire extinguishers on the market.

The PASS technique is as follows…

  • Pull the pin.
  • Aim it at the fire.
  • Squeeze the handle.
  • Sweep from side to side.

See our detailed guide: How to Use a Fire Extinguisher.

Fire Extinguisher PASS Technique

Additional Tips

  • Do not use water fire extinguishers for electrical fires (class E fires), fires involving flammable liquids (class B fires), fires involving flammable gases (class C fires) and cooking fires (class F fires).
  • A fire blanket is also recommended for use on a class A fire.

For our detailed articles on other types of fire extinguishers click one of the below links:

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