The current color code classifications for the United States are based on what is burning verses the extinguisher type(s) used in Australia and the United Kingdom. Additionally, we do not have a separate Fire Class for Flammable Gases... Why not? Isn't it time to move on and catch up with the rest of the world? Maybe we can develop a world consensus regarding both fire classes and fire extinguisher color codes?                



Fire Class Geometric Symbol   Pictogram Intended Use
A Green Triangle Garbage can and wood pile burning Ordinary solid combustibles
B Red Square Fuel container and burning puddle Flammable liquids and gases
C Blue Circle Electric plug and burning outlet Energized electrical equipment
D Yellow Decagon (Star) Burning Gear and Bearing Combustible metals
K Black Hexagon Pan burning Cooking oils and fats

Type Pre-1997   Current Suitable for use on Fire Classes (brackets denote sometimes applicable)
Water Solid red Solid red A          
Foam Solid blue Red with a blue band A B        
Dry chemical (powder) Red with a white band Red with a white band A B C   E  
Carbon dioxide Red with a black band Red with a black band (A) B   D   F
Vaporising liquid (non-halon clean agents) Not yet in use Red with a yellow band A B C   E  
Halon Solid yellow No longer produced A B     E  
Wet chemical Solid oatmeal Red with an oatmeal band A         F

Note: In Australia, yellow (Halon) fire extinguishers are illegal to own or use on a fire, unless an essential use exemption has been granted.

United Kingdom

Fire extinguishers in the United Kingdom as all throughout Europe are red, and a band or circle of a second colour covering between 5–10% of the surface area of the extinguisher indicates the contents. Before 1997, the entire body of the fire extinguisher was color coded according to the type of extinguishing agent.

The UK recognises six fire classes:

  • Class A fires - organic solids such as paper and wood.
  • Class B fires - flammable or combustible liquids.
  • Class C fires - flammable gases
  • Class D fires - combustible metals.
  • Class E fires - electrical appliances
  • Class F fires - cooking fat and oil.
Type Old code   BS EN 3 colour code Suitable for use on fire classes
(brackets denote sometimes applicable)[11]
Water Signal red Signal red A          
Foam Cream Red with a cream panel above the operating instructions A B        
Dry powder French blue Red with a blue panel above the operating instructions (A) B C   E  
Carbon dioxide CO2 Black Red with a black panel above the operating instructions   B     E  
Wet chemical Not yet in use Red with a canary yellow panel above the operating instructions A (B)       F
Class D powder French blue Red with a blue panel above the operating instructions       D    
Halon 1211/BCF Emerald Green No longer in general use A B     E  

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United States

I'd hypothesize that it's because having laypeople extinguish a flammable gas fire might make the average situation worse, not better.

The best extinguishment method for flammable gas fires is to shut off the fuel source - i.e. close a valve - so that the fire is extinguished and that no resultant flammable gas leak is created.
Not having lived abroad to understand the differences, but I don't see much of a difference, nor need to change things. The Australian classes are pretty close to identical with the U.S. and the UK has a subtle difference of the flammable gas catagory. However, look at the agent for a flammable gas and it is dry chem, not much different than the US.

Now the color codes to me seems to be more of a confusion issue to me (could learn it, but no need to) and perhaps the avg lay person. Here the fire extinguisher is designed for class. For the most part a standard ABC dry chem is going to work for any fire. You really only see a class D in a metal shop/foundry and a K class in a kitchen.

I don't know, I just don't see the issue here, nor do I see things as us being behind. Fire training consists on better identification of a fire and to use the appropriate agent, but for the general lay person an ABC will be fine.
How exactly would this make lives better / easier / more efficient?
I agree with Ben. Having a separate class for flammable gasses won't change the fact that civilians would most likely make the problem worse. I mean they're still throwing water on grease fires!
Mike, not sure of your source of info- the correct details are:

Class A- Flammable solids

Class B- Flammable liquids

Class C- Flammable gases

Class D- Combustible metals

Class E- Live electrical

Class F- Cooking fats and oils

I'll also elaborate a bit- we used to have different coloured cylinders for different extinguishers.

But the Australian Standards committee decided in the interest of safety, it's safer to have one colour with a different coloured band on it to signify what type of extinguisher it is.

The make up of the committee is companies who manufacture and service fire extinguishers- this is clearly a cost cutting measure, and nothing more. (Let's face it, to paint all cylinders red and then stick a different coloured sticker on it is wwwwaaaayyyyy cheaper than different cylinders...)
I've just reread the entire post again- I think you might have mixed up the countries- the UK definition appears to be the Australian one....
Dyslexics Untie!
the point of my post is that there are different standards for color coding... why don't we just all agree on one international standard? and the color coding adopted by the aussies I found to be pretty straight forward and more descriptive than the current US standards

thanks for clarifying the information, which was taken from Wikipedia by the way... :D
Dyslexics Untie!
That's funny!!!!! Have to use that this week at work.... :-)

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