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Fire Extinguisher Types and Maintenance

Learn about types of fire extinguishers, maintenance requirements and how to get training.


An "A-B-C" fire extinguisher can be used on all fires. Other types of extinguishers work only on a certain class of fire. Check the chart below to match extinguishers to a particular class of fire.

Chart below matches extinguishers to a particular class of fire.
Class of fire Types of extinguishers to use
Class A:
Ordinary combustible materials, such as wood, cloth, paper, etc.
  • "A-B-C"
  • Pressurized water
Class B:
Flammable liquids, such as oil, gasoline, kerosene, etc.
  • "A-B-C"
  • "B-C" dry chemical
  • Carbon dioxide
Class C:
Presence of energized electrical circuits (e.g., electronic motors, electrical wiring, etc.)
  • "A-B-C"
  • "B-C" dry chemical
  • Carbon dioxide
Class D:
Reactive metals
  • D extinguishers only
Class K:
Oils and fats
  • K (for kitchen)

The minimum standard for fire extinguishers on campus is 4A:60B:C. This type of extinguisher is designed for use on ordinary combustibles, flammable liquids and energized electrical fires of moderate to high intensity. Contact Facilities Management to obtain a 4A:60B:C extinguisher. 


The campus standard for fire extinguishers requires that there must be an ABC extinguisher located within 75 feet of travel in any direction and a minimum of one extinguisher within the lab area and must have a minimal ABC rating of 4A:60B:C. For laboratories and kitchens, specialty extinguishers may be required in addition to the ABC extinguisher.

Monthly inspection requirement

Departments must assign an individual to inspect monthly the extinguishers in or adjacent to the department's facilities. Recommended personnel include:

Use the Fire Extinguisher Inspection Checklist to perform a monthly inspection of your department's extinguisher(s).


All extinguishers need to be serviced and tested every 6 years and also when:

  • The fire extinguisher has been used
  • The pin has been pulled
  • The gauge is not in the green (or proper pressure area)

Extinguishers must be inspected by a licensed fire extinguisher maintenance contractor once a year in the intervening 5 years.

Service and replacement

To request service, additional extinguishers, or replacements, contact:
  • On campus: See How to Request Facilities Management Services
  • At UC San Diego Medical Center-Hillcrest:
    Facilities Engineering Help Desk, (619) 543-6454
  • At UC San Diego Medical Center-Thornton:
    Facilities Engineering Help Desk, (858) 657-6400


Take the mystery and fear out of when and how to use a fire extinguisher with training.

For more information, contact EH&S Fire & Life Safety, (858) 534-3659.
Notice: In case of fire, your first responsibility is to escape unharmed and sound the alarm. Use a fire extinguisher only if you have been trained to use one and you have a clear exit path behind you.