Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher in the event of an emergency. However, it is also important to ensure that you have the proper fire extinguisher on hand. Fire extinguishers are broken out into four categories based on the type of fire: Class A, ordinary combustibles; Class B, flammable liquids; Class C, electrical equipment; and Class D, combustible metals. Furthermore, each fire extinguisher has a numerical rating and the higher the number the more fire-fighting power of the extinguisher.

It is important to have the proper fire extinguisher.

Class ABC extinguishers

Perhaps the most popular fire extinguisher sold is the ABC fire extinguisher. This is a multipurpose, dry chemical extinguisher that is filled with monoammonium phosphate, a yellow powder. This type of extinguisher represents more than 80 percent of fire extinguishers sold and can be used for a combination of Class A, B or C fires.

Class BC extinguisher

There’s also the BC extinguisher, which is a regular dry chemical extinguisher that can handle a range of fires and can contain a CO2 agent, sodium bicarbonate or potassium bicarbonate. BC extinguishers can extinguish fires caused by electrical equipment or flammable liquids.


A multi-purpose extinguisher (ABC) is typically used in schools, general offices, hospitals, homes, etc. Meanwhile, a regular dry chemical extinguisher that has sodium bicarbonate (BC) is usually placed in residential kitchens, laboratories, garages, etc. The ratings are displayed on the faceplate of the extinguisher.

Hazards of ABC and BC extinguishers

You should be aware that the BC extinguisher does leave a mildly corrosive residue that must be cleaned up right away to prevent any damage to materials. To clean up, try vacuuming, sweeping or flushing with water. The ABC extinguisher leaves behind a sticky residue that can wreak havoc on electrical appliances, like computers.


Fire extinguishers must be maintained. Aside from making sure that it is located in an area that is readily accessible, you should regularly check (at least monthly) the pressure dial to see if it needs to be charged. Make sure that the pull pin is still properly secured within the handle and that the tamper seal is holding it in place. There should not be any cracks, dents or rust on its shaft as that could hinder the extinguisher’s performance.