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Which fire extinguisher do you need? Top ones and different types explained

October is Fire Safety Month! A fire extinguisher is an important device to have in your home all year-round, but especially during Halloween since Jack-o-Lantern candles and other decorations can be dangerous and cause damage if left unattended.
Written by Taylor Clemons, Staff Writer on

October is Fire Safety Month, which means it's the perfect time to buy a fire extinguisher for your home. With 5 different types of extinguishers, each rated for different fire sources, you can easily find the right type for your kitchen, garage, or even your car. Most residential fire extinguishers can be recharged, meaning that when they're empty or losing pressure, you can take them to a local fire systems professional for refilling and pressurization, and even regular testing to make sure it's in good working order. 

There are also disposable and blanket-style extinguishers for single-point flare-ups, which are perfect for keeping on-hand for camping trips, road trips, and in professional kitchens. To help you decide which is the right fire extinguisher for your home, I've made a list of the best models on the market. I've broken down their type classes as well as examined their ease-of-use and price points to help you find the right fit for your budget and home.

Also: What is the best smart smoke detector, and are they worth it?

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Multiple extinguishers
  • Extinguishes common fire sources
cons
  • Not rated for grease fires
More Details

Extinguisher class: Class A/B/C | Weight: 4.5 pounds each | Dimensions: 4.25 x 15 inches

This bundle of 4 extinguishers from First Alert is a perfect solution for fire hazards around the home. By providing multiple extinguishers, you're able to keep one on every level of your home or in every area with fire hazards like the garage, patio, or workshop. Each extinguisher weighs just 4.5 pounds and measures 4.25 x 15 inches, making them compact and lightweight enough for even children to operate in an emergency. Each extinguisher is a Class A/B/C model, meaning they're best suited for wood and paper, chemical and gasoline, and electrical fires. Each extinguisher is rechargeable, meaning that you can take them to a local fire systems company for refilling and re-pressurization as well as testing as needed.

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Rated for electrical and gasoline fires
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Mounting rack included
  • Affordable
cons
  • Not rechargeable
More Details

Extinguisher class: Class B/C | Weight: 2.7 pounds | Dimensions: 2.9 x 10.3 inches 

Fires aren't just an in-home hazard. The First Alert AUTO5 is a Class B/C extinguisher that is meant for oil, gasoline, and electrical fires, making it perfect to keep on-hand for roadside emergencies. It measures just 2.9 x 10.3 inches, making it compact enough to keep in your glove box, center console, or seat pocket for quick and easy access. It also includes a mountable safety bracket for off-road vehicles like Jeeps, dune buggies, and Humvees. The AUTO5 is rated for storage in temperatures ranging from -40 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 to 49 degrees Celsius), which means you can leave it in your trunk or backseat all year long without worrying about it losing effectiveness. And while it's not rechargeable, at around $20, the AUTO5 is easy enough to replace if needed.

Pros & Cons
pros
  • No chemical clean-up
  • Large surface area
  • Fiberglass construction
  • Easy to use
cons
  • Fiberglass can cause irritation to lungs and bare skin
  • Single-use
  • Not meant for industrial use
More Details

Extinguisher class: Class A/B/C/K | Weight: 1.19 pounds | Dimensions: 3.28 x 3.28 feet

The Siterwell Fire Blanket is a single-use, fiberglass cloth that is perfect for quickly extinguishing common household fire hazards like trash, grease and cooking flare-ups, and even burning clothing. It measures just over 3 x 3 feet, giving you plenty of surface area for small to medium, single-source fires. The tight weaving of the fiberglass ensures that no oxygen can reach the fire, quickly smothering the flames. 

Since it is fiberglass, you'll want to make sure you're wearing gloves or other hand protection to prevent tiny glass shards from breaking off in your skin, causing irritation and injury. The blanket is also great for small spaces, since it doesn't use chemicals that can leave a giant mess behind: just unfurl, cover the flames, and then toss out. When folded for storage, the blanket measures just 11.5 x 6.3 inches, making it compact enough to keep in your RV for camping emergencies, on a boat, in your car, or even in a drawer.

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Compact
  • Biodegradable fire suppressant chemical
  • Great for road trips and camping
cons
  • Does not replace full-size extinguishers
  • Not enough suppressant for multi-point fires
  • You must stand very close to fires for efficient extinguishing
More Details

Extinguisher class: Class A/B/C/K | Weight: 14 ounces | Dimensions: 2.6 x 9.4 inches

Sometimes, having a full-sized, rechargeable fire extinguisher on-hand isn't practical, which is where the First Alert EX Fire Spray comes in. This compact can of fire suppressant is great to keep nearby while cooking, setting up a campfire, or even in your car. While it doesn't have enough suppressant to handle multi-source fires, it's perfect for taking care of grilling or stovetop flare-ups, errant coals and sparks from campfires and fireplaces, and small electrical fires. The chemical fire suppressant is also biodegradable, meaning that it won't damage any of your things or hurt the environment after clean-up. The EZ Fire Spray is a disposable fire extinguisher, which means that when it's empty, you can toss the can; which makes it perfect for roadside or camping emergencies where full-sized extinguishers can be unwieldy.

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Compact and lightweight
  • One-handed operation
  • Easy-read pressure gauge
cons
  • Not rated for grease fires
  • Not rechargeable
More Details

Extinguisher class: Class A/B/C | Weight: 2.5 pounds | Dimensions: 3.25 x 13.75 inches 

If you plan on buying a fire extinguisher for your home, it's important to choose one that is easy enough for everyone to use. The Kidde FA100 weighs just 2.5 pounds and measures 3.25 x 13.75 inches, making it lightweight and compact enough for adults and children alike to operate in an emergency. It also uses a handle and lever system that can be operated with one hand, that way you can direct everyone outside or close a door to contain the fire. It's rated for most common household fire sources like paper trash fires, electrical sparks, and even gasoline. It includes a wall mounting bracket for more placement options around your home and easy access in emergency situations. The easy-read pressure gauge lets you know at-a-glance if the extinguisher is in good working order or if it needs to be replaced. Unfortunately, the FA110 is a single-use extinguisher, meaning that you cannot have it recharged by professionals. But at about $20, the FA110 is affordable enough for regular replacing.

What is the best fire extinguisher?

My pick for the best fire extinguisher is the First Alert ABC 4-pack. It's a bundle of 4 individual extinguishers, allowing you to keep one on every level of your home or in every area with fire hazards. They're A/B/C type extinguishers, meaning that they're best used for wood and paper, chemicals and gasoline, and electrical fires. And with each extinguisher weighing just 4.5 pounds, they're lightweight enough for even young children to operate in an emergency. Each extinguisher is also rechargeable, meaning you can take them to a local fire system service for refilling and re-pressurization as needed to keep them in good working order for emergencies.

Fire extinguisher

Price

Class/Fire type

Weight

First Alert ABC 4-pack

$80

A/B/C - wood, paper, chemical, gasoline, electrical

4.5 pounds each

First Alert AUTO5

$21

B/C - chemical, gasoline, electrical

2.7 pounds

Siterwell fire blanket

$18

A/B/C/K - wood, paper, chemical, gasoline, electrical, grease

1.2 pounds

First Alert EZ Fire Spray

$13

A/B/C/K - wood, paper, chemical, gasoline, electrical, grease  

14 ounces

Kidde FA110

$21

A/B/C - wood, paper, chemical, gasoline, electrical  

2.5 pounds

Which fire extinguisher is right for you?

When shopping for a fire extinguisher for your home, you should choose a model that is compact enough to keep in a cupboard or on a dedicated wall mount without getting in the way or at risk of getting damaged. You should also choose one that is lightweight and easy enough for everyone in your home, even children, to operate. And most importantly, when shopping for a fire extinguisher, you should always ensure that it is the right type for the hazards in your home; a Class A extinguisher would be a disaster for grease fires since it uses water to put out fires.

Buy this fire extinguisher...

If you need...

First Alert ABC 4-pack

Multiple fire extinguishers for each level of your home to put out common fire hazards

First Alert AUTO5

A compact fire extinguisher for your car

Siterwell fire blanket

A fiberglass, single-use extinguisher for grease fires

First Alert EZ Fire Spray

A compact, disposable extinguisher for camping, grilling, and other hazards

Kidde FA110

A lightweight fire extinguisher for your home

How did we choose these fire extinguishers?

I deliberately omitted Class D (combustible metal) extinguishers from this list since they are only available for industrial applications like factories, machine shops, and mining operations. For residential fire extinguishers, I chose an array of both rechargeable and disposable models to cover the most common fire hazards: grease fires in the kitchen, gasoline in the garage, electrical hazards, and campfires.

What are the different types of fire extinguishers?

There are 5 different types of extinguishers, and each type is meant for different fire sources:

Class A - Uses water or water mist to extinguish wood, paper, cloth, and other common material fires

Class B - Uses special chemicals to put out gasoline, oil, and alcohol fires

Class C - Uses special chemicals to put out electrical fires

Class D - Commercial-grade extinguishers which use a dry chemical to put out combustible metals like magnesium and potassium. These are usually only found in industrial applications like machine shops and mining operations

Class K - Uses an expanding foam or other smothering agent to extinguish grease fires. This is the most commonly used extinguisher type for kitchens, both residential and commercial

It's extremely important to make sure that you have the correct extinguisher type for your home, since the wrong one won't put out the fire efficiently. If you want to keep a few on hand in your home and garage, the most common type you'll find is an ABC combination, though you'll also be able to find ABC/K for kitchens.

How long is a fire extinguisher good for?

An unused fire extinguisher is capable of maintaining pressure for up to 12 years. However, that doesn't mean that you can toss one in your kitchen cabinets and forget about it. You should visually inspect your extinguisher a couple of times per year to check for missing locking pins, loose grips and handles, broken nozzles, and rips or tears in hoses. You should also visually check the pressure gauge to make sure your extinguisher isn't losing pressure. An improperly pressurized extinguisher won't put out fires effectively, raising the risk of injury, property damage, and even death.

Rechargeable fire extinguishers should be tested and refilled as needed by a fire equipment service company every couple of years to make sure they're in good working order. Disposable extinguishers should be tossed immediately after use, and even unused disposable models should be replaced every 10 years since they aren't able to hold pressure as well as rechargeable models.

Where should fire extinguishers be stored at home?

You want at least one fire extinguisher on every floor of your home. But ideally, you should have one in every area that has fire hazards: garage, kitchen, deck or patio, etc. Your fire extinguisher should also be within easy reach for quick access during emergencies. This means either placing it in a cupboard or cabinet that isn't too crowded or on a dedicated wall mount.

Are there alternative fire extinguishers worth considering?

There are about as many fire extinguishers on the market as there are causes of fires. Here's a short list of other choices that I thought were great:



Editorial standards

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