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  

Views: 3024

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

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

My question would be why should it matter? We know what we use here and what does it matter what is used somewhere else? Why should there be one standard?

Not being a smartass here, but looking at the big picture. The fire dept does (should) conduct building inspections to ensure the building is compliant in fire codes. Also right there, fire codes vary by community, let alone state and country. The fire codes are the laws which dictate what type of fire extinguisher needs to be in the building, the distance between them, the size, and the agent.

The private fire equipment distributors are the ones who are responsible for contracting with the building/business owners to ensure the codes are met. In turn the business/building owner contracts with such companies to ensure they meet code yearly and are there to recharge, test, and replace extinguishers. The fire dept's role is to ensure the codes are being met.

The lay person typically is not going to care about every different type of extinguisher out there and many don't know how to use one. However, the purpose of the extinguisher is to be there for occupant use so they can suppress a small fire, or buy time to evacuate. The bottom line is that as long as the people who are responsible to ensure codes are met, what does it matter if there is a universal fire extinguisher code?

On a personal note, when I did visit abroad I did look at extinguishers and noted similarities and differences (like foam in some places, dry chem elsewhere). However, the issue wasn't what stood out, the similarities in operation is pretty standard and that should be what counts, not color coding.

Also, I did work for a private fire equipment distributor for awhile too and the first days were learning about codes and to ensure the customer is compliant. The goal was to keep the customer compliant so they wouldn't get gigged by the fire dept.

Here's an updated graph that shows the old and new Standards an colours....
It's similar to the dyslexic atheist - he didn't believe that there was a dog.

Source Wikipedia:

Fire classes
Main article: Fire classes

Based on the combustible material involved, the fire can be classified. In the European Standard "Classification of fires" (EN 2:1992, incorporatiing amendment A1:2004), the fires are classified as:
Class A fire: Ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, carton, textile, and PVC;
Class B fire: Flammable liquids and solids which can take a liquid form, such as benzene, gasoline, oil;
Class C fire: Flammable gases, such as butane, propane, and natural gas;
Class D fire: Combustible metals, such as iron, aluminum, sodium, and magnesium;
Class F fire: Cooking media, such as oils and fats, in cooking appliances;

A fire involving energized electrical equipment is not classified by its electrical property
German classification of fires.

According to the European standard EN2 the organization of the inflammable materials into the Brandklassen A, B, C, D and F takes place.
Brandklasse A

"“Fires of solid materials of mainly organic nature, those normally under glow formation burn."”

Examples: Wood, coal, paper, textiles, motor-car tire, some plastics, straw

Fire extinguishing agent: Water, aqueous solutions, foam, ABC powder.
Brandklasse B

"“Fires of liquid and liquid becoming materials."”

(In addition count also materials, those by the rise in temperature become liquid!)

Examples: Gasoline, alcohol, tar, wax, many plastics, ether, lacquers, resin

Fire extinguishing agent: Foam, ABC powder, BC-powder, carbon dioxide
Brandklasse C

"“Fires of gases."”

Examples: Ethin, hydrogen, natural gas, acetylene, Letan, propane, town gas

Fire extinguishing agent: ABC powder, BC-powder, (carbon dioxide only in exceptional cases: for this there are very, very rarely particularly designed special fire extinguishers with gas jet nozzle) Gaszufuhr by Abschiebern of the line prevents.
Brandklasse D

Fires of metals.

Such fires are rather rare and therefore not the suitable fire extinguishing agent by the fire-brigade are usually carried. Therefore the fire-brigade should be informed if a metal fire is present. In addition a delete attempt with water was divided to a very violent reaction or explosion to lead, there the water by the heat and a chemical reaction (dissociation) partially into its components hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen accelerates the burn like an explosion and the hydrogen fackelt additionally off. Perhaps it can come even to a detonating gas reaction.

Examples: Aluminum, magnesium, sodium, potassium, lithium and their alloy

Fire extinguishing agent: Metal fire powder (D powder), dry sand, dry strewing or cattle lick, dry cement, grey cast iron splinters
Brandklasse F

"“Fires of Speisefetten and - oil in Frittier and and other kitchen equipment and - devices"” (fat fire). Background for separating these materials from the Brandklasse B is the fact that the standard fire extinguishing agents for the Brandklassen are only very conditionally applicable A, B and C on these materials. The use of unsuitable fire extinguishing agents can be connected with dangers perhaps ineffectively or.

Examples: Food oils and Speisefette

Fire extinguishing agent: Topfdeckel, special fire extinguishing agent (liquid fire extinguishing agent from Brandklasse F-portable extinguisher)

"“In January 2005 the DIN EN 2 "“Brandklassen was published"”, in which now also the new Brandklasse "“F is represented"”. The Brandklasse F stands for fires of food oils and - grease (vegetable or animal oils and fats) in and other kitchen equipment. These fires belong in principle to the Brandklasse B (liquid inflammable materials), due to the special dangers and peculiarities of these fires their own Brandklasse were however nevertheless created. An official pictogram for the Brandklasse F does not give it at present in Europe yet. At present a revision of the DIN EN is 3-7 in work, which the accompanying pictogram with is to then take up. "” (Source:

Meanwhile abolished the Brandklasse is E, which was intended for fires in electrical low-voltage plants (until 1000 V). With introduction of the European-wide standard EN2 this was however painted, since all fire extinguishers can be used in low-voltage plants, if the safety margin imprinted on the fire extinguisher is kept.
I knew a guy who had insomnia, dyslexia and was an agnostic....
He'd stay up all night wondering if there was a Dog....

Reply to Discussion


Find Members Fast

Or Name, Dept, Keyword
Invite Your Friends
Not a Member? Join Now

© 2023   Created by Firefighter Nation WebChief.   Powered by

Badges  |  Contact Firefighter Nation  |  Terms of Service