There are many factors to consider when purchasing a good quality fire extinguisher.

Firstly you need to consider the size and purpose of the building. This will help you to correctly establish how many fire extinguishers will be needed (for example, you should not need to walk more than 25 metres to get one). Factors such as having one on each floor is essential and without the need to travel through more than 2 doors i.e. one type of extinguisher for each risk factor electrical (class e and carbonaceous class a. A detailed risk assessment can be carried out

Understanding the classification and fire rating of the fire extinguishers will help you in your choice. Each extinguisher has a classification rating ranging from Class A – Class F, this class is an indication as to which fuel the fire burns. The classes are as follows:
Class A: Ordinary combustibles (wood, paper, cloth, rubber, plastics) Class B: Flammable liquids (oil, petrol, gasoline, greases) Class C: Flammable gases (gas, propane, hydrogen) Class D: Combustible metals (magnesium, titanium, etc) Class E: Electrical fires Class F: Cooking fats, oils and electrical equipment

All fire extinguishers are marked with a number, followed by a letter. This number indicates the size (in sq ft) that it is capable of combatting. For example, 8B would tackle an 8ft area in a Class B fire (Flammable liquids).

In addition to this some are designed to fight multi-class fires, but be sure to check the separate rating given for its ability to tackle the separate classes as it may be more effective on a particular class.

Below shows the types of extinguishers and their classes
Water extinguishers: Class A (click here for more info) CO2 extinguishers: Class B and electrical fires (click here for more info) Foam extinguishers: Class A and B (click here for more info) ABC dry powder extinguisher: Class A, B and C fires and electrical fires (click here for more info) Wet chemical extinguishers: Class F fires L2 lithium powder extinguisher: Class D, including lithium fires M28 lithium powder extinguisher: Class D, excluding lithium fires

It is not always the case to assume that the bigger the Fire extinguisher, the more effective it will be. Some extinguishers contain additives which can make them more effective at fighting fires. They have the added benefit of being smaller in size and therefore easier to handle if necessary.

Electrical fires will no doubt be the cause of many fires within an office workplace. This being the case, a CO2, dry powder extinguisher will be the most effective with the CO2 causing less damage to any electrical devices than powder.

The most commonly bought fire extinguishers are red, this is for extra safety as it is easier to pinpoint in an emergency. However, a chrome version is also available, so if you wanted one to blend in to the surroundings or for aesthetic purposes then this is also an option. All fire extinguishers are red or chrome however it is the label colour that denotes the medium inside the fire extinguisher.

For vehicle use, Dry powdered fire extinguishers are the only ones recommended. This is due to its ability to take a multi-class A, B and C fire. It is a legal requirement that all commercial vehicles be fitted with at least one 2kg dry powder fire extinguisher.

Finally, you will need to ensure that you purchase a good quality fire extinguisher. Make sure that it has the relevant government body’s approvals, here’s a list of what to look for:
British Standards approval (or BS EN) BAFE certification SIRA CE kitemarked MED (ships wheel) certified 35kV conductivity of discharge test Stichting Milieukeur Approval (Netherlands Environmental Certification)