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What Do Fire Extinguisher Symbols Mean? (Answered 2023)

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What do the symbols on a fire extinguisher indicateThe first symbol to look out for on a fire extinguisher indicates the class of fire that can be put out by that particular type of extinguisher. Class A, B, C or D fires are all distinct types of fire occurrences needing different approaches to handle them safely.

Additionally, there is also a numerical rating associated with each fire class on the extinguisher. This rating tells users approximately how many square feet of that type of fire the device can successfully tackle.

There are also pictograms on fire extinguishers depicting how one should properly use the device to fight fires. As well, there are maintenance tags indicating when safety inspections need to take place.

This helps ensure everyone remains safe when faced with a fire emergency situation.

Key Takeaways

  • Fire extinguisher symbols indicate the class of fire they can handle.
  • Pictograms on fire extinguishers demonstrate proper use.
  • Fire extinguisher ratings signify size and effectiveness.
  • Symbols on extinguishers indicate testing and approval by organizations.

The Fire Extinguisher Class Symbol

The Fire Extinguisher Class Symbol
If you’re in a hurry, the class symbol on your little red lifesaver shows what kind of blaze it can tame. The letter inside a triangle tells you if an extinguisher can handle common combustibles, flammable liquids, energized electrical equipment, or combustible metals.

Class A is for ordinary materials like wood, paper, cloth, trash or plastics. Those are extinguished by cooling and quenching using water or dry chemical.

Class B denotes flammable liquids – gasoline, grease, oil, etc. These extinguishers smother by displacing oxygen or inhibiting the chemical chain reaction.

Class C is effective on electrical equipment because it doesn’t conduct electricity.

Class D handles combustible metals with specialty agents. By matching the symbol on your extinguisher to the fire type, you ensure you have the right tool for the emergency job.

Understanding Fire Classifications

Understanding Fire Classifications
When assessing fire extinguishers, you must understand the classification system for fires. The class symbols indicate the type of fire an extinguisher is suited for: Class A is for ordinary combustibles such as wood and paper; Class B is for flammable liquids including gasoline and oil; Class C is for electrical fires; Class D is for combustible metals; and Class K is specifically for kitchen fires involving cooking oils and fats.

Class A

You’ll want to grab the red extinguisher for burning paper in the office. Type A fires involve common combustibles like wood, paper, cloth. Water extinguishers are ideal for putting out these solids. Check the extinguisher’s capacity rating in gallons to ensure effectiveness on Class A fires.

Class B

You’d spot a red extinguisher near flammable liquids for tackling those Class B blazes. These fires involve flammable or combustible liquids like gasoline, oil, and grease. Class B extinguishers with a numerical rating are selected based on the size of the fire.

Look for the B symbol to ensure the extinguisher matches the fuel type. Choosing the right fire extinguisher prevents the fire from spreading and protects people and property.

Class C

You absolutely must have an extinguisher specially designed for electrical fires when high-voltage equipment is aflame. Class C extinguishers smother electrical blazes without conducting electricity or endangering you.

Water-based extinguishers can cause electrocution, so reach for non-conductive agents explicitly meant for electrical infernos. Carefully research various extinguishers to equip your home, office, or vehicle for electrical conflagrations.

Class D

That cash ain’t worth the burns if your extinguisher’s not rated for metal fire snuffing. Class D extinguishers put out different metals. Check the symbols to stay safe with metal fires.

Class K

K-class fire extinguishers are designed specifically for putting out grease fires in commercial kitchens. Using aqueous film-forming foam, they coat the burning grease to remove air and stop the chemical reaction.

Although effective on cooking oil and fat fires, they are not suitable for other fire classes.

Fire Extinguisher Use Symbol

Fire Extinguisher Use Symbol
A nickel’s got the ‘PASS’ caught in an alleycat’s blink, squeezing the handle for dreaming sheets. When a fire sparks, extinguishers are your first defense. Their pictograms illustrate proper use. The safety pin reminds you to pull it first. The arrow shows you where to aim the nozzle low at the base of the flames.

Different types fight different fires. Class A is trash, wood, and paper. Class B takes on gasoline, grease, and oil. Class C handles electrical equipment. Class D tackles exotic metals. Inspect them monthly and get them recharged annually.

With fire extinguishers positioned throughout a building, you’ll rest easy knowing you’re prepared if crisis strikes.


The fire hazard pictograms on an extinguisher’s label signal the types of fires it was designed to combat. Different types like a red square with flames or a blue circle signify universal symbols for various hazards.

For instance, the blue circle pictogram indicates suitability for flammable liquids. The red square target with flames shows effectiveness for combustibles. Other symbols adhere to international standards like UL and FM ratings.

These involve color coding, numerical ratings from 1-40 for class A and 1-640 for class B fires.

Inspection tags reveal maintenance checks according to codes. Knowing how to interpret pictograms allows you to choose the right extinguisher and use it properly, helping ensure safety and preparedness.

Numerical Ratings

Numerical Ratings
To understand the numerical ratings on fire extinguishers, you’ll find them interesting. They represent the extinguisher’s size and effectiveness at fighting different fires.

  1. The number shows the relative extinguishing capacity in gallons for water types or square feet for flammable liquid fires.
  2. A higher number means a larger extinguisher with more agent.
  3. The letter indicates the fire type it’s designed for – A for ordinary combustibles, B for flammable liquids, C for electrical fires.
  4. Extra letters show suitability for more fire classes.
  5. Symbols like 2A10B or 3A10B show testing/approval by groups like Underwriters Laboratories or Factory Mutual.

Knowing how to interpret the ratings is key to picking the right extinguisher and using it effectively to suppress fires and ensure safety. Proper use and maintenance are also critical for best functioning when needed. With some basic knowledge, the cryptic markings make sense.

Extinguishing Agent Symbols

Extinguishing Agent Symbols
You see what extinguishers fight by pictures on them. A red square means it’s good for common combustibles like wood or paper. A blue square is for flammable liquids like gasoline. Electricity shooting out indicates it can handle live electrical fires.

If you see a pot with flames, it’s made for kitchen fires involving grease and oils.

Following safety guidelines like regular maintenance and understanding labels ensures you’re prepared. With knowledge of fire classifications, anyone can quickly identify the agent inside and how to use an extinguisher properly when every second counts.

Stay vigilant, and you can stop small fires before they spread into emergencies.

Maintenance and Inspection Tags

Maintenance and Inspection Tags
The maintenance and inspection tags on a fire extinguisher provide critical information for compliance. These tags indicate the last time the extinguisher was inspected and serviced. Regulations require monthly quick visual inspections to check that the extinguisher is in its designated place, hasn’t been activated or tampered with, and has no obvious physical damage or condition to prevent operation.

The inspection tag must list the month and year the inspection was performed and be initialed by the person performing the inspection.

Annual maintenance is also required, where the extinguisher is thoroughly examined and may be pressure tested, recharged, or repaired as needed. The maintenance tag must list the identification of the person and company performing the service.

Knowing when fire extinguishers were last inspected and serviced is vital. Check the inspection and maintenance tags regularly to ensure compliance and readiness in an emergency.

Color Coding of Fire Extinguishers

Color Coding of Fire Extinguishers
Color coding lets you know at a glance what type of fire an extinguisher can handle. Red is for ordinary combustibles, green for flammable liquids, blue for combustible gases, yellow for combustible metals, and black for kitchen oils and grease.

These color standards aid quick identification when you need to reach for the right extinguisher. Proper labeling’s also required by safety regulations. The fire classes – A, B, C, or K – must be clearly marked.

Symbols depicting the extinguisher’s effectiveness must be shown too. So the color and symbols let you easily spot the one you need.

Having code-compliant, color-coded extinguishers for fast selection provides confidence you’ve got the right tool to knock down a fire during those critical first moments. Focus on learning what the colors and symbols mean, and you’ll know which to grab when flames spark.

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher
Let’s break it down step-by-step and see those handy symbols guide ya on using an extinguisher properly.

  1. Pull the safety pin at the top of the extinguisher. This’ll allow you to discharge the extinguisher.
  2. Aim low by pointing the hose or nozzle at the base of the fire. Attacking the flames at the base’ll extinguish it more quickly.
  3. Squeeze the handle to discharge the extinguishing agent. Keep an even pressure on the handle to get a steady discharge.
  4. Sweep from side to side while keeping the extinguisher aimed at the base of the fire. Move in close, but be sure to stay a safe distance back as you sweep back and forth.
  5. For larger fires, pause occasionally to reassess and avoid getting yourself trapped.

Different types of fire extinguishers’re suitable for different classes of fire emergencies. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and get proper training on using extinguishers safely based on the specific needs.

With the right technique, an extinguisher can be an extremely valuable emergency firefighting tool.


Fire extinguishers are an essential tool for fire safety, so it’s important to understand the symbols and labels on them. The class symbol indicates the type of fire it is designed to fight, with red for Class B, green for Class C, and white or silver for ordinary combustibles.

The use symbol gives directions on how to use the extinguisher, such as pulling the pin, aiming low at the base of the fire, squeezing the handle gently, and sweeping from side to side. Pictograms, numerical ratings, and symbols for the extinguishing agent also provide important information.

Finally, fire extinguishers are color coded to make it easier to identify the type of fire they can battle. Having knowledge of fire extinguisher symbols and labels can help you use the extinguisher correctly and effectively to save lives and property.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is an author and software engineer from the United States, I and a group of experts made this blog with the aim of answering all the unanswered questions to help as many people as possible.