Understanding the Benefits and Proper Use of CO2 Fire Extinguishers

Understanding the Benefits and Proper Use of CO2 Fire Extinguishers

CO2 fire extinguishers use carbon dioxide to disengage fires by displace the oxygen needed for combustion, making them ideal for Class B fires involving flammable liquids and electrical equipment.

These machines are easy to use and leave no residue, making them suitable for many different applications. Most often mounted inside cabinets for an unobtrusive appearance that meets regulatory standards, they offer many applications in numerous fields of work.


CO2 fire extinguishers release a cloud of dry carbon dioxide gas to fill the area and cut oxygen off of any fire, effectively smothering it. They’re particularly useful for Class B fires like gasoline, oil, alcohol or ether that require fast action against oxygen supply – as well as some electrical fires.

CO2 extinguishers can save lives when used correctly as they quickly eliminate heat and oxygen sources that fuel fires. However, they should never be used in enclosed spaces due to low levels of oxygen that could potentially lead to asphyxiation.

CO2 systems are typically employed in environments where equipment or combustible materials could be damaged by water or foam, such as industrial turbine enclosures, high-voltage transformer rooms or chemical and flammable liquid storage areas. While accidental discharges do occur occasionally due to maintenance or testing on or near the system itself or through misuse or improper usage.


Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers feature a steel cylinder filled with compressed gas in liquid form. When activated by their lever, CO2 rapidly expands and engulfs any heat generated from fire to extinguish it by cutting off oxygen supply – stopping further burning. Since there’s no residue left behind after extinguishing a fire with carbon dioxide extinguishers it makes an excellent choice for areas involving delicate electronic equipment as well as server rooms or electrical fires where corrosion-causing liquid fire extinguishers may fail.

These types of extinguishers are best used against Class B fires involving liquid flammability such as gasoline, oil (excluding cooking oils/fats), alcohol, solvents, or tars; as well as Class C electrical equipment fires. Although suitable for indoor and outdoor use (with the latter only suitable in windy conditions) these extinguishers should be avoided during windy conditions as CO2 can cause frost burn.

Extinguishing a Fire

CO2 fire extinguishers use pressurized carbon dioxide gas to deprive a flame of oxygen and dampen its intensity, thus suppressing and extinguishing it. They’re great at fighting Class B fires caused by liquid fuel such as paint or fuel; they don’t work on electrical fires (Class C).

Fires that involve electricity pose a unique set of dangers; therefore, whenever using a fire extinguisher in this kind of scenario it is always wise to evacuate the area immediately afterwards.

To use a CO2 fire extinguisher effectively, aim it at the base of the flame. To release its gas, squeeze and move gently the lever across the fire to expel it – but be wary as too close can freeze your skin and lead to frostbite! Also used to smother small pools of burning liquid. Due to its nonconductive nature this fire extinguisher makes an excellent choice for paint booths, electrical rooms, and research facilities.

For added safety, іt іs recommended tо store CO2 fire extinguishers іn extinguisher cabinets tо protect them from damage and ensure easy accessibility іn case оf an emergency. Extinguisher cabinets should be mounted іn a visible and easily accessible location, preferably near potential fire hazards. Regularly inspect the extinguisher cabinets and the fire extinguishers they contain tо ensure their proper functioning and adherence tо safety standards.

Using a CO2 Fire Extinguisher

CO2 fire extinguishers work by depriving fire of oxygen. They’re most effective against Class B and Class C fires involving gasoline, alcohol, oil and grease as well as electrical equipment that is currently active.

When you’re ready to use a CO2 fire extinguisher, pull the pin at the top of the canister to break its anti-tamper seal and release it. Aim the horn at the base of flames and discharge in a sweeping motion across all areas affected by fire.

As soon as an extinguisher is discharged, its contents resemble dry ice and become very cold, so avoid touching it with bare skin to avoid frostbite from CO2. Once using an extinguisher to put out fire, make sure any remaining embers are cleared away and check the site for signs of reinflammation before departing the area.

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