You can also see the letters "ABC" on a fire extinguisher. This means that it can handle all three fire types. A fire is classed by the type of material burning, as that will determine what methods can be used to put it out:

  • Type "A" fires: These are fires involving solid materials. Such fires are relatively easy to deal with.
  • Type "B" fires: These are fires involving liquids. Using the wrong method of firefighting (like using water on an oil fire) will make such a fire worse.
  • Type "C" fires: This designates electrical fires, which are similar to Type A, as usually insulation and other solid materials are burning, but where electricity is present, which poses personal safety hazards and fire-rekindling potential.

Most modern fire extinguishers are "ABC" types, but one may find "BC" types in special hazard areas such as chemical facilities or electrical generation and switching areas.