Fire Extinguishers for Electrical Fires

Jun 21, 2022

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Electrical fires are extremely dangerous. They can spread quickly and cause significant damage, injury, and even death. If not handled properly, they can spread quickly and cause extensive damage.

Electrical fires must be extinguished with electrical fire extinguishers. Especially when other fire extinguishers could cause extensive damage to the property.

Some fire extinguishers should never be used on an electrical fire. Generally, any water-based or foam fire extinguishers are not fit for purpose. Carbon dioxide is your best option for putting out a small fire involving live electrical equipment as it will quickly put out the flames while keeping you safe from electricity.

Need to know the best fire extinguisher for your home?

What Fire Extinguisher To Pick For An Electrical Fire?

The most common type of Class E fire extinguisher in the UK is a CO2 extinguisher, which uses carbon dioxide to extinguish a fire.

For electrical fires in the UK, it is recommended to use a fire extinguisher with a Class E rating. Firstly, this type of fire extinguisher is designed specifically for electrical fires and therefore uses a non-conductive extinguishing agent.  making it safe to use on electrical equipment. Secondly, other types of fire extinguishers can cause electrocution. Generally, water-based or foam-based extinguishers.

Lastly, it’s important to note that a Class E fire extinguisher can be effective in extinguishing small electrical fires. However, it is not recommended to attempt to put out larger fires yourself. In such cases, you should evacuate the area immediately and call the fire brigade.

carbon dioxide fire extinguisher

How To Put Out An Electrical Fire

If you encounter an electrical fire in the UK, the first step is to immediately switch off the power supply to the affected area. This is only recommended if it is safe to do so. Also, do not attempt to extinguish the fire with water or touch the electrical equipment. Follow these steps to put out an electrical fire:

  • Turn Off The Power Source
  • Use A Fire Extinguisher
  • Smother The Fire With A Fire Blanket
  • Call The Emergency Services
  • Do Not Use Water
  • Evacuate The Area

Remember, prevention is key to avoid electrical fires. Make sure to properly maintain all electrical appliances, use appropriate fuses, and never overload electrical sockets. If you have any concerns about the safety of your electrical systems, contact a qualified electrician to assess them.

fire risk assessment derby

Why Turn Off The Power Source?

If possible, turn off the power source to the affected area. However, if you can’t access the power source, then turn off the main power supply to the building.

When there is an electrical fire, the electrical equipment involved can be live. This means it’s still carrying electricity, even if it’s malfunctioning or damaged. Live and faulty electricals can create a serious risk. These risks include electric shocks, extreme heat and fires hazards. Anyone who attempts to put out the fire is at risk. Turning off the power source helps to eliminate this risk and makes the area safe for people to work in.

Also, electrical fires can quickly spread if they are not contained. Turning off the power source can help to stop the spread of the fire and prevent it from causing more damage to the building or equipment.

Turning off the power source for an electrical fire is essential to ensure the safety of people in the area, prevent further damage, and make it easier to extinguish the fire.

electrical fires

Why Use a Fire Extinguisher?

If you have access to a fire extinguisher that is specifically designed for electrical fires, use it to put out the fire. These extinguishers are labelled with an electrical symbol and are filled with either carbon dioxide or powder that does not conduct electricity.

It is important to note that before attempting to use a fire extinguisher on any fire, one should always evaluate the situation and consider whether it is safe to do so. If the fire is too large or spreads too quickly, it is best to evacuate the area and call the fire department.

Why Smother The Fire With A Blanket?

If you don’t have a fire extinguisher, you can try to smother the flames with a fire blanket or a heavy, non-synthetic material such as a woollen blanket. Cover the flames completely to cut off the oxygen supply and put out the fire.

Electrical fires can be particularly dangerous because they can quickly spread, cause electrocution and severe burns. A fire blanket can safely smother the fire without the risk of electrical shock. Simply wrap your hands in the blanket and hold it in a shielding position, then, gently place the blanket over the fire with caution.

It’s important to note that not all fire blankets are suitable for electrical fires, so it’s important to check the manufacturer’s instructions before using one. It’s also important to follow the proper safety procedures and contact emergency services if the fire cannot be controlled.

Call the emergency services:

Dial 999 or 112 and ask for the fire service immediately. Even if you think you’ve put out the fire, it’s important to have the fire service check the area to ensure there are no hotspots or risks of reignition.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Water On An Electrical Fire

Never use water to put out an electrical fire, as water can conduct electricity and may cause electrocution.

Water is a good conductor of electricity, so if you pour water on an electrical fire, it can make the fire bigger and potentially put you in danger. Instead, it is recommended to use a fire extinguisher that is rated for use on electrical fires, such as a Class E fire extinguisher.

Evacuate the area:

If the fire is too large or you are unable to put it out safely, evacuate the area immediately and wait for the fire service to arrive.

Electrical Fires

Did you know, fire extinguishers are not just for combustible material fires? In fact, fire extinguishers for electrical fires are crucial and electrical fires are extremely dangerous. Simple misuse or using the wrong extinguisher can cause uncontrollable flames. It is important to use an electrical fire extinguisher to put these flames out.

In this blog post, we will discuss 2 facts about electrical fires and how to extinguish them with a fire extinguisher.

The Top 5 Causes of an Electrical Fire

Faulty Appliances

Electrical fires are often caused by faulty electrical appliances. Generally, these issues will arise when products are outdated. If extreme heat is being produced then surrounding combustible materials are a risk to your building. Electrical fire extinguishers for electrical fires are designed to tackle all of these top 5 causes.

Faulty cords, receptacles and switches can also cause fires. For example, never use an appliance with a worn or frayed cord as these can send heat onto combustible surfaces like floors, curtains and rugs that can start a fire. In addition, people can cause fires by running electrical cords under rugs or removing a grounding plug from a cord so that it fits into a two-prong outlet.

Electrical Heaters

During the Winter months temperatures in the office may drop. We find it difficult to please everyone with a communal aircon system and many workplaces opt for portable electric heaters. Space heaters are ideal to keep employees warm whilst working, however, other issues arise. When these heaters are placed too close to chairs, desks and other flammable materials a fire can occur. In this instance, an electrical fire extinguisher would be needed.

Coil space heaters are particularly dangerous because the coils become so hot they will almost instantly ignite any nearby flammable surface.

Electrical Extension Cords

Advised as a temporary measure, extension cords are often misused. Indeed, male pin plugs should be directly attached to the female power outlet. Often extension cords are used for long periods of time and when overloaded can spark causing potential flames.

The misuse of extension cords is another common cause of electrical fires. Appliances should be plugged directly into an outlet and not plugged into an extension cord for any length of time.

If you do not have the appropriate type of outlets for your appliances, hire an electrician to install new ones. But if doing so is prohibitively expensive or time-consuming, use extension cords as a temporary measure only.

Faulty Electrical Wiring

Older homes or premises will often be subject to older wiring infrastructure. Lack of power capacity can lead to overloaded sockets in this increasing electrical demand era. The demand for electricals was far less 20 years ago and we see this beginning to cause more issues as time goes on.

You may need to upgrade your electricals or even have them re-wired. This will depend on the extent of the damage and how old your wiring is. The best way to avoid such issues is by keeping up with regular maintenance checks. This will allow you to be aware of any problems before they become serious and costly.

The best way to avoid this problem is to have the electrical wiring checked by a qualified electrician. If you are experiencing issues with your electricals, then it may be time to call on the help of an expert.

Light Fixtures

Bulbs with high wattage are the leading cause of electrical fires. Materials including lampshades or cloth can catch fire when exposed to this heat. Always use an electrical fire extinguisher.

Overloading a light fixture or lamp can cause it to overheat and possibly ignite. The maximum wattage for any lighting fixture or lamp should always be noted, and never exceed this amount.

“Electrical fires were involved in an estimated annual average of 47,820 reported home structure fires in 2007–2011. These fires resulted in 455 civilian deaths and 1,518 civilian injuries, with $1.5 billion in direct property damage. An electrical fire is a fire involving some type of electrical failure or malfunction.” (source)

Fire Extinguishers Could Make Things Worse

Water can conduct electricity, so using it to fight an electrical fire will make matters worse. Generally, if you use water on the flames, you may be electrocuted and spread the fire rather than putting it out. Instead, use a fire extinguisher that’s designed for electrical fires. In addition, if you have access to an ABC rated fire extinguisher, use that one. If a piece of equipment has caught fire and the flames are not too close to the power cord, you should disconnect it. If the flames are close to the power cord, you should stay away from them and call a professional.

Extinguishing an electrical fire is not that simple. Often spraying water on an electrical fire will actually make the fire worse. Luckily, most models of water fire extinguishers have been tested dielectrically. This protects those misusing these extinguishers, however, water would still be ineffective. Electrical fires must be extinguished with an electrical fire extinguisher that is specifically designed for electrical fires.

We recommend carbon dioxide fire extinguishers for electrical fires.

Electrical fires are responsible for a significant proportion of the damage caused by fires in the UK. They can be started by faulty appliances, faulty wiring or damaged cables. If you’re unfortunate enough to have an electrical fire, then it’s important to get it under control quickly with one of our electrical fire extinguishers.

Carbon dioxide fire extinguisher

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are electrical fire extinguishers used for?

A: Electrical fire extinguishers are used for extinguishing fires that involve electrical equipment such as computers, printers and other electronic devices.

Q: How do electrical fire extinguishers work?

A: Electrical fire extinguishers work by releasing a non-conductive substance, such as carbon dioxide, that suffocates the fire by removing oxygen. They are designed to be safe for use on electrical equipment and will not cause damage to it.

Q: Are electrical fire extinguishers safe for use on other types of fire?

A: Typically yes, however, check with the manufacturer. Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers are suitable for use on Class B liquid fires. This doesn’t mean all electrical fire extinguishers should not be used on fires involving flammable liquids or gases, such as petrol or propane.

Q: How do I use an electrical fire extinguisher?

A: To use an electrical fire extinguisher, aim the nozzle at the base of the fire and press the handle to release the extinguishing agent. Be sure to stand a safe distance away from the fire, and always read the instructions on the extinguisher before using it.

Q: How often do electrical fire extinguishers need to be serviced?

A: Electrical fire extinguishers should be serviced and inspected at least once a year by a qualified technician to ensure they are in good working condition.

Q: Can I recharge an electrical fire extinguisher myself?

A: No, only qualified professionals should recharge an electrical fire extinguisher. Attempting to recharge an extinguisher yourself can be dangerous and may cause it to malfunction in the future.

Q: What should I do if an electrical fire extinguisher is used?

A: If an electrical fire extinguisher is used, it is important to have it recharged and serviced by a qualified technician as soon as possible to ensure it is ready for use in case of another emergency.


If you have an electrical fire, do not use a water extinguisher. Instead, use a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher. Carbon dioxide is the best extinguishing agent for electrical fires because it doesn’t conduct electricity, so it won’t cause any further damage to the equipment or building. The best way to avoid an electrical fire is to make sure that all of your electrical equipment is in good condition. If you have any doubts, have it checked by a professional. Also, make sure that the building wiring has been inspected regularly and repaired if necessary.

There are approximately 8,000 electrical fires per year in the UK. These lead to about 40 deaths and over 4,000 injuries.

If you have any questions about our electrical fire extinguishers, or if you’re in need of one for your home or business, please contact us.

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