Fire Extinguisher Colours - A Simple Guide

Oct 09, 2019

There are 5 fire extinguisher colours: Red, Cream, Blue, Black, and Yellow. We explore the different types of fire extinguisher here in this simple guide.

Each colour fire extinguisher represents a different type of extinguisher, used on the various different types of fires.

We lay out the features of each fire extinguisher below, and which types of fires they are used for.

Label Colour - Red


Water extinguishers are the most common extinguisher for class A fires and carry the original ‘signal red’ colour label.

Used on:

  • Paper and Cardboard
  • Fabrics and Textiles
  • Wood and Coal

Not used on:

  • Fires involving electrical equipment
  • Kitchen fires
  • Flammable gas and liquids

Who might need water extinguishers?

  • Buildings made of wood or another organic material
  • Premises storing organic materials, like:
  • Office buildings
  • Schools and nurseries
  • Hospitals
  • Domestic dwellings
  • Warehouses

It’s fair to say that the vast majority of buildings need either water or foam extinguishers.

Label Colour - Cream


Foam extinguishers with their cream labels are the most common type of fire extinguisher for Class B fires. They also work on Class A fires, being water-based.

Used on organic materials such as:

  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Material
  • Wood
  • Coal
  • Plus - flammable liquids like petrol, paint and turpentine

Not to be used on:

  • Kitchen fires
  • Electrical fires
  • Flammable metal fires

Who might need Foam extinguishers?

  • Buildings made of wood or other organic materials
  • Premises where there are organic materials to be found like:
  • Office buildings
  • Schools and nurseries
  • Hospitals
  • Domestic dwellings
  • Warehouses

Label Colour - Blue


The blue-labelled dry powder extinguishers are sometimes called ‘ABC’ extinguishers because they are used on class A, B and C fires.

They shouldn’t be used in enclosed spaces because the powder can be easily inhaled and the residue is very difficult to clean.

Standard dry powder extinguishers can be used on some electrical fires, plus specialist dry powder extinguishers are used for fires involving flammable metals.

Specialist dry powder extinguishers are only used on flammable metals, such as titanium and magnesium.

Used on:

  • Organic materials such as: Paper, Cardboard, Material, Wood, Coal
  • Flammable liquids - petrol, paint, turpentine
  • Flammable gases - liquid petroleum gas (LPG), acetylene
  • Electrical fires

Not used on:

  • Cooking oil /chip-pan fires 
  • or in enclosed spaces, such as offices or domestic dwellings

Who might need Dry Powder extinguishers?

  • Businesses who regularly use flammable gases
  • Locations where flame cutting or welding is carried out
  • Garage forecourts
  • Buildings with large boiler rooms

Label Colour - Black Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Extinguishers


CO2 extinguishers have black labels and are mainly used for electrical fires, although they are also usually the main type of extinguisher used in computer server rooms. They also put out Class B (flammable liquid) fires.

Used on:

  • Fires involving electrical equipment
  • Flammable liquids, like paint, petrol & turpentine
  • Small flammable liquid fires

Not used on:

  • Kitchen fires or chip-pan fires
  • Organic materials like paper, wood, cardboard or fabric
  • Flammable metals

Who might need CO2 extinguishers?

  • Premises with electrical equipment, like:
  • Office blocks
  • Commercial kitchens
  • Server rooms
  • Building sites

Label Colour - Yellow


Wet chemical extinguishers with yellow labels are specialist extinguishers, designed for use on fires involving cooking oils and fats (‘Class F’ fires).

They can be used on Class A fires although businesses usually have a foam or water extinguisher for this purpose.

Used on:

  •  Chip-pan and cooking fat fires
  • Organic materials like: Paper, Cardboard, Material, Wood, Coal

Not used on:

  • Flammable liquid or gas fires
  •  Electrical fires
  • Fires involving flammable metals

Who might need Wet Chemical extinguishers?

  • Professional kitchens
  • Chippies
  • Restaurants
  • Canteens

We hope this guide to fire extinguisher colours has been helpful.

If you have questions, get in touch to talk through the needs of your business.

Call us on 01933 677125 or fill in the quick online form to discuss your Fire Safety needs today!