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Best Fire Extinguishers SafeWise Buyer's Guide

2018’s Top Fire Extinguishers

Fire is the sixth leading cause of unintentional, injury-related deaths for people of all ages.1 A smoke detector and fire safety plan can help keep you and your loved ones safe. However, if you want to stop a fire before it spreads, you’ll need a fire extinguisher—and you’ll need to know how to use it.

Fire extinguishers may seem intimidating, but we’ve put together a comprehensive fire extinguisher safety guide to help you find the best products and learn how to operate them properly.

fire-extinguishers
Top fire-extinguishers

Types of Fire Extinguishers

To understand the types of fire extinguishers, you need to first understand the common types of fires. Household fires fall under three classifications, depending on the type of fuel burning: A, B, and C.

  • Class A: Solid combustibles that are not metals, like wood, paper, cloth, plastics, rubber.
  • Class B: Flammable liquids like gasoline, oil, grease, and paints.
  • Class C: Electrical equipment, like appliances and outlets.

Household extinguishers fight specific types of fires. It’s important to know the type of fire that has started before you use a fire extinguisher on it; different extinguishers use different chemical fueling agents to fight fires and are effective only on specific types of fuel. If you use the wrong type of extinguisher, you can actually make a fire worse.

  • Air-Pressurized Water Extinguishers (APW):
    APW extinguishers use pressurized water to fight Class A fires only. These extinguishers are generally about 2 feet tall and 25 pounds when full and will have a pressure gauge. Do not use water on Class B or C fires, as they may cause the fire to spread or increase the possibility of electrical shock.
  • Foam:
    Foam extinguishers are effective against Class A and B fires. They are not recommended for Class C, but are safer than APW extinguishers if accidentally used on a live electrical device. These foam fire extinguishers are generally marked with a blue band and can vary widely in size.
  • Carbon Dioxide Extinguishers (CO2):
    Carbon Dioxide extinguishers use non-flammable CO2 gas to fight Class B and C fires. They are not generally effective against Class A fires. These extinguishers do not a have a pressure gauge and can range from 5 to 100 pounds.
  • Dry Chemical Extinguishers (DC):
    Dry Chemical extinguishers may be labeled ABC or BC to indicate which types of fires they can be used on. They are generally filled with monoammonium phosphate and are pressurized using nitrogen. They range from 5 to 20 pounds and have a pressure gauge.

Most residential fire extinguishers use dry chemicals and are classified ABC to effectively combat all three common household fire types. Rechargeable extinguishers are heavier, but they are sturdier and can be refilled and reused. Disposable extinguishers with plastic valves are lighter and cheaper than rechargeable extinguishers, but they have a shorter shelf life and can be used only once. Cover all your bases and get an ABC fire extinguisher so you’ll be prepared for anything.

product lineup

Top Fire Extinguishers

Model
Class
Pros
Cons
Where to Find It
Amerex B441 Rechargeable 10-lb Extinguisher Amerex B441 Rechargeable 10-lb Extinguisher Read Review

ABC

  • Pros
  • Fights All Fires
  • Rechargeable
  • Discharge Time
  • Wall Mount
  • Cons
  • Expensive
  • Heavy
Amerex B500 Rechargeable 5-lb Extinguisher Amerex B500 Rechargeable 5-lb Extinguisher Read Review

ABC

  • Pros
  • Fights All Fires
  • Lighter
  • Discharge Time
  • Wall Mount
  • Cons
  • Expensive
Kidde Pro 210 Rechargeable Extinguisher Kidde Pro 210 Rechargeable Extinguisher Read Review

ABC

  • Pros
  • Fights All Fires
  • Affordable
  • Light
  • Rechargeable
  • Cons
  • N/A
Kidde FA110 Multi-Purpose Disposable Extinguisher Kidde FA110 Multi-Purpose Disposable Extinguisher Read Review

ABC

  • Pros
  • #1 Best-Seller
  • Affordable
  • Fights All Fires
  • Light
  • Cons
  • Not Rechargeable
Fire Gone Disposable Aerosol Extinguisher Fire Gone Disposable Aerosol Extinguisher Read Review

ABC

  • Pros
  • Affordable
  • Two-Pack
  • Fights All Fires
  • Easy To Use
  • Biodegradable
  • Cons
  • Not Rechargeable
First Alert Disposable Aerosol Spray First Alert Disposable Aerosol Spray Read Review

ABC

  • Pros
  • Affordable
  • Two-Pack
  • Fights All Fires
  • Biodegradable
  • Easy To Use
  • Cons
  • Not Rechargeable
Williams-Pyro Disposable Stovetop Firestop Extinguisher Williams-Pyro Disposable Stovetop Firestop Extinguisher Read Review

C

  • Pros
  • For Kitchen Fires
  • Affordable
  • Two-Pack
  • Cons
  • Not For All Fires
  • Not Rechargeable
First Alert Disposable Auto Extinguisher First Alert Disposable Auto Extinguisher Read Review

BC

  • Pros
  • Affordable
  • Compact
  • Cons
  • Not For All Fires
  • Not Rechargeable

Amerex B441 Rechargeable 10-lb Extinguisher

The Amerex B441 fire extinguisher is a top-of-the-line model for your home. It is the largest home model, with a 10-pound chemical weight—and 19 pound overall heft. The multipurpose extinguisher is made of heavy-duty parts, including a metal canister, brass valve, and stainless steel handle. The discharge shooting range is between 15 and 21 feet, while the total discharge time is approximately 20 seconds. Amerex extinguishers comply with the National Fire Protection Association recommendations and come with a six-year warranty.

The Amerex B441 Rechargeable 10-lb Extinguisher has the longest discharge length of traditional fire extinguishers: 20 seconds.

Fights All Fires. Use this fire extinguisher on Class A, B, and C fires.

Rechargeable. You can take this to your local fire department to have it recharged at a low price.

Long Discharge Time. Since this extinguisher holds more, it will discharge for 20 seconds.

Wall Mount. Hang this fire extinguisher on the wall, so it’ll be within reach when you need it.

Expensive. The Amerex B441 Rechargeable 10-lb Extinguisher is the most expensive on this list—at nearly $100.

Heavy. This fire extinguisher weighs 19 pounds when full (according to product specs).

Amerex B500 Rechargeable 5-lb Extinguisher

Referred to by reviewers as “the Cadillac of extinguishers,” the Amerex B500 is approved by the U.S. Coast Guard for use on all three classes of home fires. The Amerex B500 has a 5-pound chemical weight with a 14-second discharge time. Though it’s one of the larger household extinguishers, it’s still small enough to fit under the kitchen sink. It is made of metal and includes mounting wall brackets, too.

The Amerex B500 Rechargeable 5-lb Extinguisher packs a punch, but doesn’t weigh a ton compared to other models, so it’s easier to handle.

Fights All Fires Use this extinguisher on combustible, flammable, and electrical fires (A, B, and C).

More Manageable. This fire extinguisher only weighs five pounds, so it’ll be easier to handle.

Wall Mount. Anchor this to the wall to keep it in an accessible location.

Decent Discharge Time. Other extinguishers discharge for longer, but this model has a 14-second discharge capability.

Rechargeable. Use this again by filling it up at your fire department.

Expensive. The The Amerex B500 is one of two fire extinguishers on this list over $50.

Kidde Pro 210 Rechargeable Extinguisher

The multipurpose Kidde Pro 210 is a rechargeable extinguisher. Its powder-coated cylinder and brass valve are made to protect against corrosion. The Kidde Pro 210’s chemical agent weight is 4 pounds and has a discharge time is 13 to 15 seconds—with a shooting range up to 15 feet. Wall mounting brackets are included, and the extinguisher is approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and backed by a six-year warranty.

Of the larger fire extinguishers, this is one of the cheapest on our list.

Affordable. Bring the Kidde Pro 210 Rechargeable Extinguisher home for $46.

Fights All Fires. Use this extinguisher on A, B, and C rated fires.

Rechargeable. Get this refilled for cheap after you use it.

Decent Discharge Time. Use this for 12-15 seconds.

Wall Mount. Mount your fire extinguisher on the wall with brackets that are included.

Light. It only weighs seven pounds.

None! The Kidde Pro 210 Rechargeable Extinguisher has great reviews, function, and more.

Kidde FA110 Multi-Purpose Disposable Extinguisher

Amazon’s bestselling fire extinguisher, the Kidde FA110 is the cheapest canister extinguisher on our list. With a 2.5-pound chemical weight, it’s small enough to fit under the kitchen sink or in your car. Despite the small size, the extinguisher is still powerful: the discharge range is six to eight feet and the discharge time is between eight and 12 seconds. The disposable extinguisher is made with rust- and impact-resistant materials and a nylon handle. It is approved by both the U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of Transportation.

This is the #1 Best-Seller on Amazon.

Affordable. You’ll only spend $20 on this fire extinguisher.

Fights All Fires. Use this on Class A, B, and C fires.

#1 Best-Seller. The Kidde FA110 Multi-Purpose Disposable Extinguisher is the #1 Best-Seller on Amazon.

Light. This only weighs three pounds.

Not Rechargeable. You’ll need to buy a new fire extinguisher when this expires or is used.

Fire Gone Disposable Aerosol Extinguisher

The easy-to-use Fire Gone Disposable Aerosol Extinguisher is modeled after aerosol air fresheners, so it’s small and simple to deploy. Fire Gone is a disposable patent-pending extinguisher model that shoots a strong stream of aqueous film-forming foam. The cool part about it is that it’s a water-based, biodegradable chemical that is easier to clean up than the powder agent used in traditional extinguishers. Fire Gone comes in a pack with two 16-ounce cans and includes mounting brackets. Reviewers complain that the head of the can shatters easily, but Fire Gone has a four-year warranty and is multipurpose.

The foam of this spray is biodegradable.

Two-Pack. You can store a fire extinguisher in two places instead of one.

Affordable. Enhance your fire safety for under $20.

Fights All Fires. Use these cans on A, B, and C fires.

Easy To Use. These handheld aerosol cans work like a can of hairspray. They’re light and easy to use.

Biodegradable. The foam of this spray is biodegradable.

Not Rechargeable. Once you use this, you’ll need to buy replacements.

First Alert Disposable Aerosol Spray

The First Alert AF 400-2 Tundra sprays two to four times longer than regular extinguishers—giving you up to 32 seconds to extinguish a fire. That can make all the difference when it comes to putting out a fire! This aerosol can is also filled with biodegradable aqueous foam, a chemical agent that is easy to clean up. The patent-pending aerosol can design is similar to a large can of hairspray and comes with two 14-ounce cans that have a four-year warranty. Although, reviewers reported that the spray can be sporadic.

The product boasts the ability to spray “4x longer” than other aerosol fire extinguishers—32 seconds!

Affordable. A pack of two is only $25.

Two-Pack. Get two fire extinguishing aerosol cans with your order to keep in different locations of your home.

Fights All Fires. The First Alert AF 400-2 Tundra fights A, B, and C class fires.

Biodegradable. The foam in these cans biodegrades and easily wipes away.

Easy To Use. Use these fire extinguisher cans like you would spray paint.

Not Rechargeable. Once these are used or expired, you’ll need to buy new ones.

Williams-Pyro Disposable Stovetop Firestop Extinguisher

Reviewers call the Williams-Pyro 675-3D the “fireman in a can.” The automatic stove top suppression system uses a magnet to attach to the underside of a range hood. When a fire is detected, the pop-top opens, dropping fire-suppressing chemicals onto the fire. The company that created the stovetop extinguisher also designed and manufactured test equipment for the U.S. military. There are additional models made to fit under a microwave above a stove, but this model is made for traditional range hoods that are 27 to 35 inches above the burners.

This fire extinguisher fits into your vent hood and releases flame retardant substances when it detects flames or extreme heat.

For Kitchen Fires. The Williams-Pyro Disposable Stovetop Firestop Extinguisher magnetically attaches to your range hood and release flame retardant when it detects fire.

Affordable. Buy this on Amazon for under $50.

Two-Pack. Get two of these, so you have a backup if you need to replace one.

Doesn't Fight All Fires. This fire extinguisher is only meant for C class fires.

Not Rechargeable. You’ll need a new device when this is used.

First Alert Disposable Auto Extinguisher

A fire extinguisher specifically created for cars, the First Alert Auto is made for Class B and C fires. The canister is stable, and vehicle-mounting brackets are included to prevent an accidental discharge. The extinguisher meets DOT requirements, comes with a five-year warranty, and has an 8- to 12-second discharge time.

This is a pint-sized fire extinguisher that’s easy to handle and keep under the sink for quick retrieval.

Compact. The First Alert Disposable Auto Extinguisher is under a foot long and 3 pounds.

Affordable. Each one of these fire extinguishers costs $15.

Not For All Fires. The First Alert Disposable Auto Extinguisher only works on B and C class fires.

How to Properly Use a Fire Extinguisher

While the specifics may vary depending on the model you own, most fire extinguishers operate the same basic way. Stand 6 to 8 feet away from the fire and remember to PASS:

  1. Pull: Pull the pin at the top to break the tamper seal.
  2. Aim: Aim the extinguisher low, pointing the nozzle at the base of the fire. Do not aim at the flames themselves.
  3. Squeeze: Squeeze the handle to release the extinguishing agent.
  4. Sweep: Sweep the extinguisher from side to side, remaining at the base of the fire, until it appears to be out.

Keep an eye on the area to make sure the fire does not reignite, and repeat the steps as necessary. If the fire grows larger than the extinguisher can handle at any time, immediately evacuate the building and call 911.

Recommended Storage and Maintenance For Fire Extinguishers

The National Fire Protection Agency recommends a fire extinguisher be installed on every floor of your home and that it be inspected annually. The U.S. Department of Agriculture takes that counsel even further, recommending that homeowners install separate fire extinguishers in their kitchen, garage, basement, and car, too. These should be installed in plain view, within easy reach of adults—though out of reach of children—and near an escape route.

It’s important to regularly inspect your fire extinguisher. Check your owner’s manual for specific recommendations for your extinguisher model, but in general, follow these guidelines for regular maintenance:

  • Check the pressure regularly to ensure it is at the recommended level. The needle should be in the green zone. Replace or recharge any extinguishers if the needle is in the red zone.
  • Assess Freshness. Make sure the pin and tamper seal are intact.
  • Monitor For Damage. Check for dents, leaks, rust, or other signs of wear.
  • Shake It. If you have a dry chemical extinguisher, many manufactures recommend shaking it monthly so the powder does not settle.
  • Test Your Pressure. Get your extinguisher pressure tested every few years by a professional, depending on the manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • Recharge extinguishers after they have been used, no matter how much (or how little) they were used.
  • Discard disposable extinguishers after use. Your local fire department may offer this service, or you can find a professional recharging company in your area.

Fire Safety Tips

An average house fire can double in size every minute, so those first few seconds are critical.2 Residential extinguishers won’t quench a major fire, but they can control small ones that commonly break out in homes. If a fire starts in your home, follow these steps before you attempt to extinguish it on your own:

  • Make sure everyone else has left or is leaving the building.
  • Have someone call 911 and notify the fire department immediately.
  • Position yourself with an unobstructed exit at your back, in case you need to escape quickly.
  • Examine the fire and make sure it is confined and not spreading to a larger area.
  • Know how to use your fire extinguisher—there isn’t time to learn in the moment
  • If the fire is too large to put out with a home fire extinguisher, your priority should be to get everyone out and call 911 immediately.
  • Do not attempt to extinguish a large fire on your own, no matter what extinguisher you have on hand. Remember, you are under no obligation to fight a fire yourself.
  • If the fire grows beyond what the extinguisher can handle, if the air becomes unsafe to breathe, or if you no longer feel comfortable fighting the fire, evacuate the area immediately.

The cost to purchase and maintain a fire extinguisher is small compared to the cost of even minor smoke damage—not to mention the sense of security you’ll gain by having an extinguisher nearby just in case of emergency. Find the best extinguisher for you, learn how to use it, and stay safe. In the meantime, you can also install top-of-the-line smoke detectors in your home for an early warning system that can save your life in a fire.

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