A Guide to Fire Extinguishers in the Home

1000 667 Fire Risk Assessment & Fire Safety Training



It was recently highlighted in Parliament that the number of firefighters in England has dropped by around 11,000 – as a result, the number of fatalities recorded as a following domestic fires has risen by 20%.  Alongside installing smoke alarms, making sure that you have adequate equipment available to fight fire could very well save your life.

In this guide, we will explore the types of fire extinguishers that are available, the pros and cons of each one, and where you should think about situating them.


  1.  Fire Blankets

Although not an extinguisher in the sense that many people think of them, a fire blanket is a simple and effective solution to most kitchen fires – and kitchens are the origin of many of the most severe fires that occur in the UK.  Designed to contain and extinguish small fires which start in pans, they have the additional benefit of being ideal for smothering fires which have spread to clothing, as they can be wrapped round the wearer.  There is a limit to their effectiveness, however – once a fire has started to spread outside of a pan or other very small area, a fire blanket is unlikely to be the best choice.


  1. Water Extinguishers

Water extinguishers are the perfect choice for fires which start in soft furnishings or ‘solids’, such as paper or wood.  In many circumstances they work quickly and efficiently, allowing the user to quickly reduce the potential damage from small fires.  However, deploying a water extinguisher if you are uncertain of the cause of a fire can be dangerous – for example, they should never be used on electrical fires due to the risk of electric shock.


  1. CO2

CO2 extinguishers are ideal for areas where you have multiple electrical appliances.  Due to the fact that it does not leave a residue, it’s less damaging to any electrical equipment, and it does smother fires quickly.  However, it’s risky to use in confined spaces and it’s not great at cooling – which means that there is potential for re-ignition after you think that the fire is extinguished.


  1. Dry Powder

Dry powder extinguishers are a great all-rounder and are suitable for  extinguishing many of the types of fire that you are likely to encounter – however, they are not suitable for use on kitchen fires, and are extremely messy.  Clean up after the use of a dry powder extinguisher can be extremely difficult and, as with CO2 extinguishers, there is also the risk of re-ignition.


  1. Foam

Most usually found in the garage, foam extinguishers are perfect for smothering fires caused by flammable liquids such as petrol – however, they cannot be used on electrical fires, so if your garage is more of a workshop and you have a lot of electrical equipment, you might wish to consider alternatives.


  1. Wet Chemical

Perfect for use on fires which ignite in soft furnishings or through the combustion of cooking fats, wet chemical extinguishers are best kept for the bedroom, kitchen or living room.  As with water extinguishers, they should never be deployed if you suspect that the cause of a fire is electrical.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for which extinguishers you should have in your home.  Before purchasing, you should carefully consider the hazards in each room of your home and decide which extinguishers are most suitable for the potential sources of ignition.

For more information, or for an informal chat with one of the Assessed Risk team, click here and fill in our online form. Alternatively, have a read of our blog on the regulations, types and uses of fire extinguishers.


Scott Taylor MIFireE, MIFSM, CFPA E-Dip TC

Scott Taylor has worked as a fire professional for over 15 years working in the public and commercial sector. He likes to work with businesses as a partner, passing on knowledge and information in a pragmatic manner balancing risk, benefit and cost to ensure compliance.

All stories by: Scott Taylor MIFireE, MIFSM, CFPA E-Dip TC