Last updated: August 10, 2021

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Who hasn't experienced it? At Christmas, the Advent wreath is suddenly on fire. A napkin got caught in the candle while you were eating. Hopefully you got the fire under control quickly! If not, in many cases, apart from the fire brigade of course, the only thing that helps is a good quality fire extinguisher.

With our big fire extinguisher test 2021 we want to help you find the best fire extinguisher for you. We have prepared information on all fire classes and the different extinguishing agents for you. We have also compared permanent pressure extinguishers and rechargeable extinguishers.




The most important facts

  • When choosing your own fire extinguisher, the most important thing is the area of application and the right extinguishing agent for it. One should be familiar with the respective powders and fire classes.
  • A powder filling is suitable for all types of fires, depending on the designation, but we advise against using it inside the home. You can't go wrong with a foam filling inside the home.
  • Permanent pressure extinguishers are for single use only, while rechargeable extinguishers can be refilled.

The Best Fire extinguisher: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for fire extinguishers

In the following, we will show you which aspects you can use to decide between the many possible fire extinguishers.

The criteria with which you can compare the fire extinguishers with each other include:

In the following paragraphs, we will explain to you what is important in each criterion.

Fire class

With fire classes, a rough distinction is made between the type of material that is burning. There are five different fire classes:

  • A: Solid substances of an organic nature, e.g. wood, paper, plastic, textiles: Wood, paper, plastic, textiles, etc.
  • B: liquid substances, e.g.: Petrol, varnish, wax, etc.
  • C: fire of gases, e.g.: Methane, hydrogen, propane, etc.
  • D: Metal fire, e.g.: Aluminium, lithium, etc.
  • F: Grease fire, e.g.: Cooking oils and fats

Fire class D has not been dealt with so far, as it only plays a role for certain companies. It is very important not to extinguish a metal fire with a foam extinguisher or with simple water!

Filling quantity / extinguishing agent

Another important purchase criterion is the filling quantity. Depending on how high the fire hazard is in your area of application, it may be worthwhile for you to buy a large 12KG fire extinguisher or perhaps a 2KG extinguisher will suffice?

What definitely does not make sense for you is to extinguish a fire in the engine area with a 12KG fire extinguisher. Therefore, as already mentioned above, you should always adapt the filling quantity to the intended use.

The same applies to the extinguishing agent, as mentioned above. Whether powder, foam, gas or for grease fires, we have already explained the respective advantages and disadvantages.

With or without pressure gauge

You can read the pressure of your fire extinguisher yourself on a pressure gauge. It is therefore a great advantage, especially if you own a continuous pressure extinguisher, to purchase it with a pressure gauge.

In an emergency, you can always check yourself whether there has been a loss of pressure or not. The pressure gauge is also checked every time your fire extinguisher is serviced.

Accessories

In the area of accessories, there are some interesting and sometimes necessary products for you. One of the most important accessories for your fire extinguisher is a mounting bracket to attach it to the wall. There are also brackets for cars and for ships, for example, because different regulations apply there than in your own home.

Other important accessories are various boxes and cases in which you can store your fire extinguisher and protect it from dust and other negative environmental influences.

If you want to store a fire extinguisher in an open area, such as your garden, there are also extra storage solutions to ensure the functionality of your fire extinguisher.

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying fire extinguishers

Where will I use the extinguisher?

The basic and sometimes most important question you should ask yourself before buying a fire extinguisher is:

Where will you use it?

There are different places where it makes sense to have a fire extinguisher, e.g. in the garage where you work on your car, in the computer room where many electronic devices are running or the classic: in the kitchen where a grease or oil fire can easily occur.

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The iconic fire extinguisher design is unmistakable anywhere in the world.
(Image source: 123rf / Phloysungwarn)

Once you are sure where you want to use the extinguisher, the next step is to determine what type of material it will be used to extinguish.

Not every extinguishing agent you can use in a fire extinguisher is compatible with every material! Some may even contribute to further damage to the extinguished object.

Therefore, you should always consider beforehand where you want to use the extinguisher and which objects need to be extinguished.

What is the right extinguishing agent for my application?

In this section we explain which fire extinguisher filling is suitable for which location and for which material and which is not. Finding the right fire extinguisher with the right filling can sometimes be quite difficult. We try to provide you with the most important information to make your decision easier.

Fire extinguishers with powder filling

Fire extinguishers with powder filling can be further divided into two classes: on the one hand, fire extinguishers with ember powder, which is suitable for fires of classes A, B and C, and flame powder, which is only suitable for fires of classes B and C. On the other hand, fire extinguishers with powder filling can be divided into two classes: fire extinguishers with ember powder, which is suitable for fires of classes A, B and C, and flame powder.

When extinguishing a fire with such a fire extinguisher, the fire is smothered by the powder. The fire is thus deprived of oxygen and prevented from spreading further.

It is not recommended to use extinguishers filled with powder in confined spaces because the powder creates a strong fog and thus deprives you of sight. In addition, the powder is very fine and spreads in the smallest cracks and corners, making it difficult to remove.

However, if it is foreseeable that the fire will spread quickly, then a powder fire extinguisher is definitely a good choice, because it is best suited for large-scale fires.

Fire extinguisher with foam filling

The foam filling consists of a water and foaming agent mixture that works exactly like the fire brigade's extinguishing foam. With this filling, the fire is not only smothered but also cooled at the same time.

Because of this, fire extinguishers with a foam filling can be used in a wider range of applications. Foam-filled extinguishers are mostly suitable for class A and B fires.

In addition, they are well suited for use in the home. Don't be afraid of electrical fires either, the extinguishers are designed for them and the extinguisher itself says how many metres away you can extinguish a burning socket, for example.

Fire extinguishers filled with carbon dioxide

Fire extinguishers with this filling are best suited for electrical or cable fires. This means that if you have a lot of electronic devices, it may be worthwhile to have a carbon dioxide extinguisher at hand.

The so-called Co2 fire extinguisher does not leave any traces, as the fire is extinguished by asphyxiation with gas (carbon dioxide).

After use, the gas liquefies again. Unlike foam or powder extinguishers, the gas does not damage the electrical system. Carbon dioxide is also effective against liquid and gas fires. The application spectrum thus covers fire classes B and C.

However, it should be noted that carbon dioxide does not volatilise if the air supply is too low and there is therefore a risk of suffocation!

Fire extinguishers for grease fires

A special subclass of liquid fires is the grease fire. It has even been given its very own fire class, class F.

Grease fire extinguishers are equipped with a special extinguishing foam that is particularly suitable for extinguishing grease fires. This type of extinguisher is mandatory in every restaurant due to the difficulty of controlling these fires.

In most cases, grease fire extinguishers can also be used for category A and B fires. You can always read more on the extinguisher itself.

Where are fire extinguishers required by law?

Unlike smoke detectors, there is currently no obligation to own a fire extinguisher in private households. In commercial facilities, depending on the fire hazard and/or storage of flammable materials, fire extinguishers must be available in the appropriate number.

Feuerlöscher-02

When barbecuing in your own garden, there are still no regulations for a fire extinguisher. However, it can be advisable to always have a fire extinguisher ready.
(Image source: pixabay / Karolina Grabowska)

If you travel a lot by car within the European Union, you should inform yourself in advance, because in some European countries there is an obligation to carry a fire extinguisher in the car.

As these regulations can change from time to time, we recommend that you check with the appropriate authorities or your local automobile club before a long journey.

What do tradespeople need to be aware of?

In general, fire extinguishers must be available in workplaces. You can read more about this in ASR A2.2 "Measures against fires" or in the respective ordinances of the federal states. Another important regulation in Germany is DIN EN3, which regulates the approval of fire extinguishers.

Feuerlöscher-03

If an emergency should really occur within your own four walls, do not hesitate to call in the fire brigade, regardless of your own efforts to extinguish the fire.
(Image source: pixabay / Military Material)

Sometimes it is not only the number of fire extinguishers that matters, but also their extinguishing capacity. You should check this with the local authorities responsible for your business.

What size fire extinguisher should I buy?

Depending on the location and intended use, you can buy a fire extinguisher in a wide range of sizes. Common sizes are 2KG, 4KG, 6KG, 9KG and 12KG. In the car, for example, it makes no sense to carry a 12KG extinguisher because it is simply much too big.

In this case, you should use a smaller 2KG extinguisher. In your own home, a 6KG fire extinguisher is usually sufficient.

What does a fire extinguisher cost?

The prices for fire extinguishers vary greatly depending on the size and type of extinguisher purchased.

Type price range
Permanent pressure extinguisher approx. 25 - 80€
Charge extinguisher approx. 50 - 110€

Rechargeable extinguishers are usually more expensive than standard continuous pressure extinguishers because they are more difficult to manufacture.

What types of extinguishers are there and which one is right for you?

If you want to buy a fire extinguisher, there are two different types you can choose between:

  • Continuous pressure extinguisher
  • Charge extinguisher

There are advantages and disadvantages to manufacturing, maintenance and handling. Depending on what you prefer and what you want to use the extinguisher for, a different one is suitable. The following section will help you make your choice.

Permanent pressure extinguisher

With a continuous pressure extinguisher, both the gas that is responsible for the pressure and the extinguishing agent are in one and the same container. This means that a continuous pressure extinguisher is permanently under pressure.

This design makes continuous pressure extinguishers clearly the cheaper fire extinguishers, because unlike rechargeable extinguishers, there is only one chamber that has to be built.

Due to the permanent pressure, there are also some disadvantages with the permanent pressure extinguisher, such as increased maintenance intensity, since improper storage can lead to a loss of pressure and thus a possible malfunction during use.

Due to its design, it is very costly to have a continuous pressure extinguisher refilled and in most cases it is cheaper to simply buy a new one.

Advantages
  • Cost-effective
  • Easy to use
Disadvantages
  • Single use
  • Frequent maintenance
  • Not refillable

If you are looking for a fire extinguisher that is quick and easy to use, you can go for a continuous pressure extinguisher without hesitation.

However, you should always be aware of the necessary maintenance and safety regulations that come with a permanently pressurised extinguisher. Especially if you want to store it in your car or in a garden shed, it is important to observe heat and frost protection regulations.

Charge extinguisher

Charge extinguishers consist of two different containers. One contains the gas and the other the extinguishing agent. The gas container can usually be opened by a valve and the extinguisher can then be put into operation.

This is a little more complicated to use than a continuous pressure extinguisher, but it is also much easier to maintain, because the gas container is designed to be opened from the start.

This means that it can be opened and refilled every time it needs to be serviced. This results in some cost advantages for you.

Advantages
  • Easy and cheaper maintenance
  • Refillable
Disadvantages
  • High purchase price
  • More complicated to handle

If you are looking for a high quality fire extinguisher, you can't go wrong with a rechargeable extinguisher. Due to the cheaper and easier maintenance, the high purchase price can be amortised over the usually longer service life.

With regular maintenance, your rechargeable extinguisher can have a service life of up to 25 years. The maintenance cycle for rechargeable extinguishers is in the range of five to eight years.

What are the alternatives to a fire extinguisher?

As with almost every product today, there are a few alternatives to fire extinguishers:

Type Description
Fire blanket Fire blankets can be used to extinguish small house fires such as a burning Advent wreath during the Christmas season. You simply place the blanket on the source of the fire and the blanket smothers the flames. Caution is advised with grease fires! Extinguishing blankets are not suitable for these.
Extinguishing spray Extinguishing sprays are small spray bottles that contain a very small amount of extinguishing foam compared to fire extinguishers and are intended for small house fires. One advantage is that they are quicker to use than a more cumbersome fire extinguisher.

Depending on the situation, it can be helpful to have several alternatives. Fire extinguishers, extinguishing sprays and extinguishing blankets can of course also complement each other.

How do I dispose of my old fire extinguisher?

There may be different rules for disposal from place to place. The best thing to do is to contact your local waste disposal company and find out if there is a recycling centre that takes care of problematic items or chemicals.

You may be charged between €10 and €30 for disposal.

Where can I have my fire extinguisher serviced?

Most fire extinguishers have a manufacturer's recommended service schedule. When the time comes and you are not sure, there is one authority that can always help you - the fire brigade.

Even if they don't service your extinguisher, they can at least tell you which service provider in your area is the most reputable.

If you own a business, you will be required to have your extinguishers serviced and their inspection tags renewed every 2 years. You should choose a reliable and trustworthy fire safety officer and place the maintenance in their hands.

When should I replace a fire extinguisher?

This is not an easy question to answer, as some extinguishers can malfunction quickly without maintenance. However, if your extinguisher is regularly maintained, it can last from 10 to 25 years, depending on the manufacturer's specifications.

You should definitely have your extinguisher replaced or checked as soon as you notice that the pressure on the pressure gauge is not within the normal range.

Image source: Sutapan / 123rf

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