Water vs Foam Fire Extinguishers: What’s the Difference?

Fire extinguishers are essential in keeping us safe, especially during fire emergencies. However, not all fire extinguishers are created equal, and it’s important to know which type is best to use for a specific type of fire. While there are a few to choose from, in this blog post we’ll be comparing water vs foam fire extinguishers, two of the most common types. 


So, if you’re wondering which one is best for your needs, keep reading!


What Is a Water Fire Extinguisher?


Let’s begin with water. Water fire extinguishers are the most common type of extinguisher used for Class A fires, which are fires caused by combustible materials such as paper, wood, and textiles. They work by cooling the fire and reducing the temperature below its ignition point. 


Water fire extinguishers are ideal for fires that have just started or small flames – they don’t hold enough water to put out a blazing inferno on their own! But, due to their ability to put out small, manageable fires with common materials, you’ll often find them in both commercial and residential settings.


What Is a Foam Fire Extinguisher?


Foam fire extinguishers are typically used for Class A and B fires, which are fires caused by flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil, and other petroleum-based products. Unlike water-based ones, foam extinguishers work by smothering the fire and preventing the release of flammable vapors. 


However, they do share one thing in common with water extinguishers: they’re also effective for extinguishing solid fires like those from wood and paper. Since they’re so versatile, you’ll find foam fire extinguishers in a variety of settings, such as gas stations, airports, and factories.


Water vs Foam Fire Extinguishers: Which One Should You Use?


As you can see above, the choice between water and foam fire extinguishers depends on the type of fire you’re dealing with. If the fire is a Class A fire, such as those caused by paper, wood, and textiles, then you can use either a water fire extinguisher or a foam one. But if it’s a flammable liquid fire or a Class B fire, a foam fire extinguisher is the best choice.


See, if you use a water-based extinguisher on flammable liquids, you may cause the fire to spread, which can be dangerous. So, always remember to read the label first and know your extinguisher’s limitations before using it.


The Bottom Line


Choosing the right fire extinguisher can be the difference between a minor incident and a catastrophe. The number one thing to consider when choosing between water vs foam fire extinguishers is the type of fire you are dealing with. Water extinguishers are effective on Class A fires, while foam extinguishers are suitable for Class A and Class B fires.


If you are ever unsure about which fire extinguisher to use, it’s always best to evacuate the area and call for help. Stay safe!


Are you fire extinguishers in good working order? If they need inspection or maintenance, we’d be happy to help! Click here to get in touch with Fire-Alert, and take advantage of our mobile fire extinguisher service today.