Whether you're looking for a fire extinguisher for use inside the home, in the garage, in your car or in your boat, you won't have much trouble finding one. Home improvement outlets, as well as online retailers, stock a wide selection to help you find the best fire extinguisher for your needs. Perhaps more difficult than finding a place to buy a fire extinguisher is deciding which one you need.
General fire extinguishers for home use are available at big box stores, home improvement stores and online. Special fire extinguishers, such as those for class D or class K fires, are available online or from certain distributors.
Types of Fire Extinguishers
The type of fire extinguisher you need depends on on several factors, including:
- The size of the area that needs protection
- The amount of available storage
- The classes of fires the extinguisher may be used for
The physical strength of the people who might use the fire extinguisher is also a factor. For example, you would want to avoid keeping a 10-pound fire extinguisher as the sole means of fire protection in a home with mostly children and elderly people. One or two lighter extinguishers would be a better idea in this situation.
Common Fire Extinguishers
Many general-purpose home fire extinguishers display the letters ABC, meaning they are are designed to put out class A, B and C fires. Here's what that means:
- Class A fires include burning wood, paper and fabric.
- Class B fires include combustion of flammable materials, such as oil, gasoline and grease.
- Class C fires are electrical fires.
Some extinguishers spray carbon dioxide or dry chemicals and are rated just for class B and C fires. These are intended for use in automobiles, where paper fires aren't likely to occur. Some spray water or foam and are intended only for class A fires. Your best bet is always to purchase a class ABC fire extinguisher, whether you need it for your home, your car or your boat. That way, you're always so you're covered for the three main classes of fire.
Where to Buy Them
Since fire extinguishers don't last forever, you'll likely need to replace your household extinguisher at some point. Big-box stores that stock a selection of these types of fire extinguishers include:
- Home Depot.
- Canadian Tire.
- Most department stores with a hardware or tool department.
You can also purchase Class ABC fire extinguishers at large hardware stores, and you can get them online from a number of sources, including:
A number of fire safety equipment specialists service particular communities. You can usually find the one closest to you these by entering "purchase fire extinguisher" in your favorite search engine. Besides selling new fire extinguishers, these specialists also service old ones. They are a good resource if you already have a fire extinguisher, but you don't know whether or not it works. The specialist can inspect the extinguisher and recharge it if necessary, as long as it's a type that is designed for recharging.
Specialty Fire Extinguishers
Class D fires are those that occur when a combustible metal, such as potassium or magnesium, burns, and class K fires are caused by the combustion of animal and vegetable oils. These two classes of fires are primarily associated with industrial activity, so homeowners usually don't need fire extinguishers to put them out. Anyone who does a lot of cooking should be concerned about class K fires, but a class B fire extinguisher can handle most of them. A class K extinguisher is required in commercial kitchens, though. Class K fire extinguishers are usually sold wherever class ABC ones are.
If you are involved with a machine shop and you need a class D extinguisher, it's not likely that you'll find one in a store that stocks general-use extinguishers. Not many people have the need for an extinguisher designed for fires caused by combustible metals, so your best bet is to navigate to the site of a fire extinguisher manufacturer and search the list of distributors.
Amerex is one such manufacturer that has an extensive distribution network in the United States and worldwide. You'll probably be able to find an outlet in your own community, and you can also call Amerex at 800.654.5980 if you need more information. Amerex products, including class D and K fire extinguishers, are available online at Amazon, Fire Extinguisher Depot and FireXdirect.
When to Buy Fire Extinguishers
You don't have to replace your fire extinguisher if you use it once. You can recharge many fire extinguishers if they're still in good condition. You'll need to buy a new fire extinguisher if your old one is damaged or if it has expired. If your home doesn't have a fire extinguisher or you only have one for the entire home, buy multiple fire extinguishers to make sure you have easy access to one.
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker.com.