Fire safety equipment

You might be considering putting safety equipment such as a fire extinguisher in your home to help you feel more reassured if a fire occurs. 

Even the smallest of fires can rapidly get out of control. You might think you can deal with it yourself, but if you’re in any doubt, don’t.

If a fire starts in your home:

  • get out
  • stay out
  • call 999 and ask for the fire and rescue service. 

If you're looking for information on alarms, see our information on smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

Fire blankets

Fire blankets are designed to put out small fires by smothering them. They’re good for extinguishing chip pan fires or to wrap around someone whose clothing is on fire. They’re made from a specially woven fabric that is fire retardant.

If you choose to buy a fire blanket, make sure to follow this safety advice.

  • Keep it in the kitchen. Over half of the fires we attend start in the kitchen.
  • Only use it to smother small fires.
  • Use it to put out fires on clothing by wrapping the blanket around the person on fire.
  • Always look for the British Standard mark (BS EN: 1869:1997 or BS 7944:1999).
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Smoke alarms

Visit our smoke alarms guidance to find out more about installing smoke alarms in your home.

Fire extinguishers

If you decide to buy a fire extinguisher, follow this safety advice.

  • Make sure that it has a Kitemark of British Approvals for Fire Equipment mark.
  • Keep them stored away from cookers, heaters or other extreme heat sources.
  • Recharge it after use.
  • Have your extinguishers regularly serviced by a qualified person.

Fire extinguishers need to be disposed of carefully as they contain hazardous substances. Find your local hazardous waste disposal service.

Types of fire extinguisher

There are four types of fire extinguishers, and each contains different substances to deal with different types of fires. There are six types of fires, which can be divided into classes from A-F.

There is no single type of fire extinguisher that can deal with all types of fire.

Important things to know

CO2 - Gas from CO2 extinguishers can be harmful if used in confined spaces, as they displace oxygen in the air. Make sure to ventilate the area well after extinguishing the fire.

Dry powder fire extinguishers should not be used in enclosed spaces. The powder can affect your breathing and reduce visibility for a safe evacuation.

Never hold the horn while using the extinguisher. The dry ice will cause your skin to stick to the horn with a burning sensation.

Fire extinguishers to use for different types of fire

Wood, paper, plastics, soft furnishings etc.

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  • AFF foam
  • Water
  • Wet chemical
  • Dry powder

Flammable liquids, petrol, oil etc.

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  • AFF foam
  • CO2
  • Dry powder

Flammable gases, propane, butane, methane etc.

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  • Dry powder

Metals: aluminium, magnesium, titanium, swarf (metal shavings) etc.

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  • L2 and M28 powder

Electrical apparatus, computers, phone chargers etc.

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  • CO2
  • Dry powder

Cooking oils and fats

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  • Wet chemical

Cooking oil fires

Never use a fire extinguisher for a chip pan fire. The jet from the extinguisher can force burning fat out of the pan and spread the fire.

You can find out more information about fire safety equipment for a commercial premises or public building in our business safety section.

What to do if there’s a fire

  1. Get out of the building, closing any doors behind you.

  2. Stay out of the building.

  3. Call 999 and ask for the fire service.

Common questions

How do I dispose of a fire extinguisher?

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Fire extinguishers need to be disposed of carefully as they contain hazardous substances. Find your local hazardous waste disposal service

What is an ABC fire extinguisher?

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An ABC fire extinguisher is one that is suitable for extinguishing the fires in the A, B and C categories, as detailed in the section 'fire extinguishers to use for different types of fire'.

Can a fire extinguisher explode?

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Fire extinguishers can explode if they have not been maintained properly. If the case has been damaged, this can cause pressure to mount inside, making it more likely to explode.

How do you know if a fire extinguisher is still okay to use?

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Most fire extinguishers come with a pressure gauge that indicates the pressure level inside. If the gauge is too low, then you need to replace your extinguisher.