The 6 Primary Types of Australian Fire Extinguishers and Their Specialties

In Australia, there are 6 main types of fire extinguishers, each with a specialized design and use. Each of these fire extinguisher types is distinguishable from another by two main differences, their colour, and the small text printed upon them. In an emergency, would you rather waste precious seconds reading the small text on a fire extinguisher, trying to figure out what in particular the fire extinguisher is best used for, or save time by knowing all of that information as soon as you see a fire extinguisher, due to your previous memorization of the Australian fire extinguisher colour-coding? If you would prefer to experience the latter of these situations, then continue reading below, where these different colour coded fire extinguishers are explained.

Wet Chemical

The wet chemical fire extinguisher sprays a chemical over a surface that can cut off the oxygen supply to a fire and is identifiable by its oatmeal coloured band. Take note that all fire extinguishers are red; you can differentiate between them by the colour of the wide band painted around them, or the lack of such a band.  The wet chemical fire extinguisher can be used to extinguish fires on normal combustible materials, such as wood or paper, and is particularly good at extinguishing fires involving cooking oils.


Identifiable by their blue band, extinguishers of this category are filled with a mixture of pressurised water and additives, which create foam when triggered. They are good at extinguishing fires fuelled by normal combustible materials and flammable liquids, such as fuels or paints.


Identifiable by its lack of band, maintaining a completely red colour, the water fire extinguisher is filled only by water under high pressure. This fire extinguisher is best used to fight fires on normal combustibles and shouldn't be used for any other type of fire.

Carbon Dioxide

Identifiable by their black band, fire extinguishers filled with carbon dioxide are great at extinguishing electrical fires and can be used to extinguish all other fires to some extent, but they have very limited efficacy outdoors.

Dry Chemical Powder

Identifiable by its white band, extinguishers filled with dry chemicals are separated into two categories, ABE and BE. Both ABE and BE dry chemical powder fire extinguishers are effective against fires fuelled by combustible liquids, gases, and electricity. However, only the ABE variation is effective against normal combustible materials.

Vaporising Liquid

Identifiable by their yellow band, fire extinguishers filled with vaporising liquid are not only very effective against electrical fires but also effective against fires fuelled by normal combustibles. 

For more information the various types of fire extinguishers, contact a local fire safety equipment supplier in your area.