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The A B Cs of Fire Extinguishers


What do the A B C & K ratings mean on Fire Extinguishers?

Fire Extinguisher Types/Classes

Fire extinguishers are classified by the type of fire they are designed to treat, these classifications are A, B. C and K. Letter values are given to extinguishers to signify the type of fire they are useful in extinguishing. The A, B, C rating system defines the kinds of burning materials each fire extinguisher is designed to fight. The number in front of the A, B, or C indicates the rating size of fire the unit can extinguish.

What are the types of Fire Extinguishers?

What are the types of Fire Extinguishers?

Type A Fire Extinguishers

Type A fire extinguishers are used to treat fires from common combustibles these combustibles include wood, cloth, plastic, and cloth. These type of extinguishers normally use water as the fire fighting agent. Class A extinguishers are also given a number that tells you how much water the extinguisher holds. Type A fire extinguishers often uses pressurized water to put out the fire and weighs about 25 pounds. The primary chemical used to fight these fires is monoammonium phosphate, because of its ability to smother fires in these types of materials.

To achieve a Class “A” rating, the extinguisher must be capable of putting out the wood crib, wood panel and excelsior (shredded paper) tests. Ratings are based on the size of the material that can be repeatedly extinguished.

Type B Fire Extinguishers

Class B extinguishers are used to fight small fires based on flammable liquids. These liquids include gasoline, kerosene, oil, and oil-based paints making this type of fire extinguisher perfect for use in your garage. Class B fire extinguishers also have a number, however, the number on these type of extinguishers tell you the number of square feet that the extinguisher will cover. Co2 is often used in type B fire extinguishers and these fire extinguishers can weigh anywhere from 5 to 100 pounds. Two commonly used chemicals are effective in fighting these types of fires. Monoammonium phosphate effectively smothers the fire, while sodium bicarbonate induces a chemical reaction which extinguishes the fire.

To achieve a class “B” rating, the extinguisher must repeatedly put out a flaming liquid fire. Ratings are based on the size of the fire.

Type C Fire Extinguishers

The Type C fire extinguisher is used to fight electrical fires. These types of fires include electrical appliances, power tools, circuit breakers, wiring, and wall outlets. This type of extinguisher is the only type of fire extinguishers that should be used for electrical fires due to the high risk of shock and electrocution. Type C fire extinguishers use either CO2 or dry chemicals to put out the fire. However, it should be noted that the dry chemicals used in some of these extinguishers may leave a residue on electrical wires that can damage them. Both monoammonium phosphate and sodium bicarbonate are commonly used to fight this type of fire because of their nonconductive properties.

To achieve the Class “C” rating the extinguisher and contents must pass certain electrical conductivity measurements in accordance with UL711 and UL299.

Type K Fire Extinguishers

Type K fire extinguishers are used in places where combustible cooking fluids such as oil and grease could be an issue.While these types of fire extinguishers are most often used in restaurant and cooking school kitchens as well as catering service. However, more recently Class K fire extinguishers are finding their way into many homes. Type K fire extinguishers may contain dry or wet fire agents and should never be used unless the electricity is killed prior to using.

A Class K fire extinguisher is used on fires involving cooking media (fats, grease, and oils) in commercial cooking sites such as restaurants. These fire extinguishers work on the principle of saponification. Saponification takes place when alkaline mixtures, such as potassium acetate, potassium citrate, or potassium carbonate, are applied to burning cooking oil or fat. The alkaline mixture combined with the fatty acid creates a soapy foam on the surface that holds in the vapours and steam and extinguishes the fire. These extinguishers are identified by the letter K.


What type of extinguisher best suited for a car?

Since the three types of fire: A B C, can occur in a car, you should have a fire extinguisher that can put out ALL types of fire. Something that does not create a mess, as many leave residue after use and are hard to clean or worse, malfunctions the electric circuits and the engine. If the extinguisher is not chosen well, you might end up with one that will cause more damage than a fire would.

What Should You Look For In A Car Fire Extinguisher?

Shopping for the best car fire extinguisher can be overwhelming especially because the market is filled with fire extinguisher sellers. Below are the essential features to look for when buying one:


Lightweight models are preferred to the heavy ones when it comes to choosing a car fire extinguisher, 2lbs is the ideal preferred weight. If you have a larger vehicle, you can choose slightly higher up to 2.5lbs. These small extinguishers will fit under a seat, the problem is they don't last very long when putting out a fire.


A mounting is essential when you want to set up your extinguisher. Emphasizing on the previous point, ensure you place it where you can easily access it instead of putting it in the trunk. Most often it is placed under the driver’s seat where both the drivers and the passengers can see and access it.

Dry chemical fire extinguishers

They are the best when it concerns putting out car fires. Most people worry about what it will do to the interior of their vehicle. The dry chemicals are better as it prevents the restarting of the extinguished fire.

The durability of the material

In most cases fire starts during a collision, it would be unhelpful if the cylinder will also be wrecked. The extinguisher should hence, be made of a durable material.


For a car cylinder, you should be looking for a smaller size, however, it will also limit you from putting out major fires. The ability of an extinguisher is measured in numbers often from 1 to 40. For instance, if the rating is 5-BC means it can handle both electrical and liquid fire, yet its capacity is small with only a discharge Time between 8 to 12 sec.


It is an important but not an essential quality. However, anyone looking for a car fire extinguisher is looking for something outside the family which is worth protecting. It might be the joy and pride of owning the treasured and classic car. So you might look for a classy looking extinguisher which still will play the role of being a lifesaver.



Is there one Fire Extinguisher that can put out ALL different fires?

Only one fire extinguisher has ALL of these features and more: the Element Fire Extinguisher.


Only one fire extinguisher you need: the Element Fire Extinguisher.




Using technology developed for the space program, Element Fire Extinguishers fight fires on the molecular level by quickly and safely interrupting the chain of combustion. In addition, once dispersed the Element doesn’t leave behind any residue that can be difficult to remove and is environmentally friendly. Best of all unlike other fire extinguishers that need to be inspected monthly, Element fire extinguishers don’t need any inspection or maintenance at all.


Element Fire Extinguisher - No Mess, Compact, Long-Lasting

Choosing the right fire extinguisher to best be able to deal with the type of fire you at risk for is essential in protecting your home and your family. Choosing the Element Fire Extinguishers for those places in your home, boat or car where fires may occur can give you the protection you need and want. Element fire extinguishers are clean and eco-friendly: No mess, non-toxic, non-corrosive, environmentally friendly, leaves no residue. Zero thrust discharge, they will not spread oil & liquid fires.


Element Fire Extinguisher - No Mess, Compact, Long-Lasting



What types of fires can the Element extinguish?

Element is 80% smaller, up to 5 times the discharge time of a regular extinguisher, no chemicals that can be corrosive to engine parts. Element Fire Extinguishers fight all major fire classes. A, B, C, and K.

Element is dedicated to commercializing innovative fire-fighting equipment. The Element Fire Extinguisher is based on a long-established fire-fighting technology used in fixed building installations worldwide. Developed for the European Space Program, and made in Italy, the Element Fire Extinguisher is the first handheld portable version of this technology. Currently available in over 30 countries worldwide and now for the first time in North America.


What types of fires can the Element Fire Extinguisher Canada extinguish?

Element Fire Extinguisher is the best for vehicles

Leaves NO RESIDUE & NO MESS – e.g. no additional damage to the engine or bodywork

Works on ALL MAJOR types of fire – Fights all major fire classes: A, B, C & K (cooking oils and grease) fires – no trying to guess whether its the right type to use.

Lasts far LONGER to fight the fire – over double the discharge time than other domestic extinguishers.

SAFE & EASY to use – Once activated, one-handed use. Totally non-toxic and environmentally friendly.

FAST but secure activation to prevent it accidentally triggering it

No Expiry Date, No Servicing, No Maintenance

SMALL & LIGHT – Keep it at hand and not hidden or inaccessible in the boot


Performance Improvements Barrie - Your local retail store for performance auto parts


Performance Improvements Barrie - We're Here For You, Locally

Performance Improvements Barrie is a traditional Speed Shop in Barrie, Ontario. Your local retail store for performance auto parts. We can't fix your car but we can make it better! Family-owned Canadian business since 1964, Fair Prices, No Duties, 365-Day Return.

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P.I. Speed Shops Barrie - No Customs, Duty, Brokerage & "Handling" Charges

No Summit Surprise! Canadians buying from the big American mail-order companies have learned the hard way that the price they see on the screen, is not the price they pay when it gets to your door. Shipping & "Handling" charges, Duty, Brokerage Fees and Taxes all end up making the price vastly higher than the original number. Summit Racing has finally updated their shopping cart to show customers the various shipping charges they will be facing: Shipping Charge, Tax & Duty, then an Additional Shipping Charge, and finally a Delivery and Handling Charge! Don't forget the surprise you get opening your credit card statement to see what rate they decided to use to convert your US bill into Canadian.

Performance Improvements Barrie - We're Here For You, Locally

All our salespeople are here to give advice. Whether on the best way of installing a part, or where to find the best local mechanic, we live in your neighbourhood. We have Performance Improvements auto parts stores located across Southern Ontario: Barrie, Brampton, Hamilton, Oshawa, and the head office in Toronto. We support local car clubs, car shows and racers. We are not owned by a foreign company, we are proudly 100% Canadian family-owned business. We deal with manufacturers directly - when you buy your parts from us we can get you the help you need. If you order the wrong part by mail order you have to pay to send your part back across the border and then wait for someone to get to it.

Performance Improvements is your source for WeatherTech in Barrie

WeatherTech Canada offers DigitalFit FloorLiners, All-Weather Floor Mats, and Cargo Liners that help preserve and maintain the condition of your car, truck, minivan or SUV. These floor protection products have been engineered by our talented designers to provide the most advanced floor protection available today.

Performance Improvements is your source for WeatherTech in Barrie