What are Carbon Dioxide Extinguishers?

There are 5 main fire extinguishers; each combat different fuel for different environments. Carbon dioxide (C02) extinguishers are regarded as the customer’s preferred choice when it comes to choosing a fire extinguisher for electrical fires making them popular in workplaces in Australia.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about the C02 fire extinguisher such as how to identify a c02 extinguisher, it’s pros and cons, what kind of fires C02 fire extinguishers are used for, as well as signage requirements and tips for C02 fire extinguisher maintenance to ensure its integral part of an effective fire protection system.

How To Identify A Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguisher?

In Australia, C02 fire extinguishers have a slimmer red body than most extinguishers and will always have a BLACK colour band wrapped around the tank as you see in our C02 fire extinguisher examples below. A C02 fire extinguisher is also distinguishable as its a nozzle ends in a black horn. You can also identify a C02 by looking at its description label imprinted on the tank. The label description should include as follows:
What are C02 fire extinguishers used for?

A C02 fire extinguisher’s suppressing agent allows combatting class B (flammable liquid fires) & E (energised electrical fires). This makes the C02 fire extinguishers a popular choice for areas with electronics such as server rooms, offices, schools, hospitals, and laboratories. To have a fire extinguisher that is suitable to your needs, we highly recommend you speak to an expert that can you help you choose a suitable fire extinguisher. Here is a simple overview of suitable class fires a C02 extinguisher is able to combat.
Suitable Class Fires For C02 Extinguisher

Class B Fires: These involve flammable or combustible solvents, propane, butane, and petrol. Common examples are due to lit thrown cigarette butts or machinery sparks that come into contact with flammable liquids.

Class E Fires (Most Used): These involve electrical equipment such as heaters, fans, kitchens, and electronics found in workplaces, laboratories, and electronics at homes. A common example involves fires due to overheating of appliances.

How Does A Carbon Dioxide Extinguisher Work?

C02 fire extinguishers have carbon dioxide in liquid form, when the extinguisher is used the liquid is released into the air neutralising the oxygen the fire is dependent on and consequently preventing the spreading of fire. The release of C02 emerges at greed and therefore is not recommended for grease fires, organic materials or flammable metals. It is almost important to not sure C02 in a confined space.

Pros of C02 Extinguishers:

    Leaves No Residue: Because it is a gas, it has little to no cleanup and will not cause damage to the equipment. It is safe for use on fires involvingenergised electrical equipment
    Speed: C02 Fire extinguishers method of effectiveness can extinguish live equipment quickly and with minimal after damage.
    Economical: C02 fire extinguisher prices can range from supplier to supplier. For wholesale prices, click here.
    Frost Resistant: C02 generally have a frost free horn as C02 gas when released is ice cold. The horns are designed to withstand the freezing gas.

Environmentally Friendly

Cons of C02 Extinguishers

Unsuitable for Confined Spaces: C02 fire extinguishers applied cannot be used in confined spaces such as homes as it reduces the level of oxygen content to below a level that can sustain life.
Poor Knock-Down: C02 fire extinguishers have a short discharge range and is almost totally ineffective in the presence of significant air movements. Because it displaces oxygen, atmospheres containing enough carbon dioxide to extinguish a fire do not contain enough oxygen to support life and could kill by asphyxiation
Not To Be Used On Reactive Metals: C02 fire extinguishers are not effective on fires involving reactive metals such as phosphorus, magnesium or combustible that supply their own oxygen

How Do I Use A C02 Fire Extinguisher?

Before attempting to fight a fire with a fire extinguisher it is important to check that it is fully charged and that the safety pin is not bent
Ensure you remain a safe distance from the fire and remove the safety pin this will break the tamper seal
Do Not hold the horn as it becomes extremely cold during use and can lead to severe frost burns. Ensure the horn is double lined or frost free to help eliminate this possibility
Aiming the extinguisher:
Flammable liquids: Aim the horn at the base of the fire and move across the area
Electrical equipment: Switch off the power (if safe to do so) and then direct the hose straight at the fire
Squeeze the lever slowly to begin discharging the extinguisher, as the fire starts to diminish carefully move closer to it
Ensure all the fire has been extinguished as re-ignition is possible when a CO2 extinguisher has been used.

C02 Fire Extinguisher Maintenance

It is routine for fire extinguishers to be checked every six months by a service team as required per regulations. However, we recommend once a month to ensure the following:

The extinguisher is not blocked by equipment, coats or other objects that interfere with access in an emergency.
The pressure is at the recommended level, this means the needle should be in the green zone- not too high and not too low.
The nozzle or other parts are not obstructed
The pin and tamper seal is intact
There are no dents, leaks, rust, chemical deposits and other signs of abuse/wear. Wipe off any corrosive chemicals, oil, gunk etc. that may have landed on the extinguisher.
Fire extinguishers should be pressure tested (a process called hydrostatic testing) after a number of years to ensure that the cylinder is safe to use. We provide our partner, majestic fire with pressure testing and maintenance services

t is compulsory to have an extinguisher identification sticker as well as fire extinguisher label visible at all times. We offer an extensive range of sticks and labels as accessories to fire extinguishers. Please ensure you also have a maintenance service tag.
Get Direct Wholesale Prices Of C02 Fire Extinguisher Range HERE

Fire Factory is Australia’s leading wholesaler of LED Emergency Lighting and Fire Protection Equipment, providing quality products to Organisations and Tradesmen in the Fire Safety and Protection industry for over 30+ years. To get direct wholesale prices, we require our customers to fill out a credit form. If you have any questions, please contact us on sales@firefactory.net.au or simply talk to one of our friendly experts over the phone.
At FFA we are proud of our achievements and of being of service to the Fire Protection Industry by providing Fire Protection Equipment and LED Safety Emergency Lighting that are Australian Standards Certified, providing products and equipment of excellent quality with fair pricing.
C02 Fire Extinguisher Frequently Asked Questions
Is it dangerous to use a C02 fire extinguisher?

C02 fire extinguishers are not dangerous to use in semi-concealed and outdoor environments. Carbon dioxide is not a dangerous gas, however, C02 fire extinguishers should NOT be extinguished in confined areas as it reduces the level of oxygen content to below a level that can sustain life. You should always vacate the area and ventilate as soon as it is safe to do so.

How often should C02 fire extinguishers be inspected in Australia?

All fire extinguishers regardless whether its an ABE, C02, Water or Foam as per regulations require to be inspected every six months. Depending on the type of fire extinguisher, it is also required that servicing and refilling must be done between 1-5 years by authorised servicer.
What should C02 fire extinguishers not be used on?

C02 fire extinguishers should not be used on grease fires involving class F fires. They should also not be used on organic materials and flammable materials.
Do C02 fire extinguishers leave a residue?

No, carbon dioxide extinguishers are popular for computer, food, schools because they leave no residue.
How CO2 fire extinguishers work:

CO2 fire extinguishers discharge CO2 gas, also known as carbon dioxide. This is stored in the extinguisher as a liquid, and the gas is created under pressure when the handle of the extinguisher is squeezed.

This causes the CO2 gas to emerge at great speed, which is why CO2 fire extinguishers are not recommended for chip pan fires – they could literally blast the flames into surrounding areas.

Unlike water and foam extinguishers, CO2 fire extinguishers do not work by cooling the fire and so are ineffective on fires involving flammable solids.

Instead, CO2 extinguisher work by replacing the oxygen surrounding the flames with carbon dioxide, meaning the fire can no longer burn.

Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguisher

What Does Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguisher Mean?

A carbon dioxide (CO2) fire extinguisher is a portable, active fire protection device that works by expelling carbon dioxide onto a fire. It works by displacing the oxygen the fire relies upon to continue burning, and it is primarily used to extinguish fires in which the source of the fuel is a flammable liquid or gas.

Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers are a very common form of fire extinguisher and are used in situations where traditional water and foam fire extinguishers or dry chemical fire extinguishers are not suitable. A carbon dioxide fire extinguisher is a “clean extinguisher” and leaves no residue on the area it is applied.
Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguisher

The type of fire suppressant that needs to be used to extinguish a particular workplace fire varies depending on the substance that is fueling the fire, as well as the equipment and human safety considerations that exist within the vicinity of the fire.

For instance, traditional water extinguishers are useful for extinguishing ordinary combustion fires (Class A fires) by eliminating the heat necessary for the fire to continue; however, they are not effective for situations in which the source of the fire is a liquid (Class B) or gas. The reaction may inadvertently cause the flaming liquid to displace or splash, and water may not be able to reduce the heat from the fire to a low-enough temperature to terminate the combustion reaction that keeps the fire burning. In this case, a carbon dioxide extinguisher can be used to eliminate the fire by displacing the oxygen that the fire relies upon for fuel.

Because carbon dioxide is a non-conductive material, CO2 extinguishers are also useful for extinguishing electrical (Class C) fires and were originally developed for this purpose. They are not useful as a method of extinguishing ordinary flammable combustible solids, as the solid will continue to smolder after being extinguished and may reignite once oxygen returns to its immediate atmosphere.

A dry chemical fire extinguisher can be used to eliminate all of the types of fire that a carbon dioxide extinguisher can, as well as additional fire types such as Class A fires; however, a carbon dioxide extinguisher may be better-suited for the elimination of a Class B or C fire, as dry chemical extinguishers release a toxic substance that is easily inhaled if used in an enclosed space without adequate respiratory protection.

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