What Are CO2 Fire Extinguishers Used For Emergency

You’ve likely encountered them in office buildings, schools, or public spaces—the unmistakable red bottles adorned with the words “CO2.” While they may catch your eye and made you wonder what are CO2 fire extinguishers used for?

CO2 fire extinguishers are used to combat fire class B and C involving electrical equipment, flammable liquids and gases. They work by displacing oxygen, effectively smothering the flames and suppressing the fire.

Let me describe you in detail about the usages, advantages, and how you can use a CO2 fire extinguisher. The knowledge may come handy sometimes. 

Learn What Are CO2 Fire Extinguishers Used For Emergency

What Are CO2 Fire Extinguishers?

CO2 fire extinguishers, also known as carbon dioxide fire extinguishers, are portable devices used to combat fires. They are designed to suppress flames by displacing oxygen, which starves the fire of its fuel source. 

CO2 fire extinguishers consist of a pressurized cylinder filled with carbon dioxide gas. When activated, the extinguisher releases the gas in a high-pressure stream, effectively smothering the fire and preventing its spread. 

These extinguishers are effective for fires involving gases, flammable liquids, and electrical equipment. They are non-conductive and leave no residue behind, making them suitable for protecting delicate equipment and minimizing cleanup efforts. 

CO2 fire extinguishers are essential tools for fire safety in various settings, from homes and offices to industrial and commercial environments.

How Do CO2 Fire Extinguishers Work?

Understanding how they work can help you utilize them properly during emergencies. Let’s dive into the process – 

Displacement of Oxygen

CO2 fire extinguishers work by displacing the oxygen surrounding the fire, which is necessary for combustion. When the extinguisher is activated, the carbon dioxide (CO2) gas is expelled in a high-pressure stream. 

The gas is denser than air, so it quickly sinks and envelops the fire, creating a barrier between the flames and the surrounding oxygen.

Starving the Fire

By displacing oxygen, CO2 fire extinguishers effectively starve the fire of its fuel source. Oxygen is crucial for the combustion process, and by reducing its concentration around the flames, the extinguisher suppresses the fire. 

Without sufficient oxygen, the fire is unable to sustain itself, and the flames are extinguished.

Cooling Effect

While carbon dioxide gas acts to displace oxygen, it also has a secondary cooling effect. When the gas is released, it absorbs heat from the fire. 

This cooling effect further aids in suppressing the flames, as it lowers the temperature of the fire source. By reducing the heat, CO2 fire extinguishers help break the fire triangle—consisting of heat, fuel, and oxygen—and prevent re-ignition.

Non-conductive Nature

One of the significant advantages of CO2 fire extinguishers is their non-conductive nature. This property makes them suitable for tackling Class C fires involving electrical equipment. 

Unlike water or foam extinguishers, which could conduct electricity and pose a risk to the user, CO2 fire extinguishers do not conduct electricity. This allows individuals to safely discharge the extinguisher on electrical fires without the fear of electric shock.

How to Use CO2 Fire Extinguishers?

When faced with a fire emergency, follow the below-mentioned procedure to extinguish the fire. 

  • Assess the situation: Ensure your safety and evaluate if you can safely handle the fire using a CO2 extinguisher.
  • Pull the pin: Remove the pin located on the top of the CO2 extinguisher to unlock it.
  • Aim at the base of the fire: Point the nozzle or horn of the extinguisher at the base of the flames, directing the CO2 gas towards the source of the fire.
  • Squeeze the handle: Firmly squeeze the handle to discharge the CO2 gas. The gas will rapidly displace the oxygen around the fire, suffocating the flames.
  • Sweep side to side: Using a sweeping motion, move the extinguisher from side to side to cover the entire fire area. Continue discharging until the flames are fully extinguished.
  • Watch for re-ignition: After extinguishing the fire, monitor the area for any signs of re-ignition. If the fire reignites, repeat the process or evacuate and seek professional assistance.
  • Evacuate and seek help: If you are unable to extinguish the fire, if it becomes too dangerous to handle, or if it is not fully extinguished, evacuate immediately and contact emergency services.

Precaution to Maintain for CO2 Extinguishers 

To ensure the optimal performance and longevity of CO2 fire extinguishers, it is important to follow certain precautions and maintenance guidelines.

Regular InspectionsConduct regular inspections to ensure that the CO2 extinguisher is in good working condition.
Pressure ChecksCheck the pressure gauge periodically to verify that the CO2 extinguisher is within the correct operating range.
Proper StorageStore CO2 extinguishers in a designated area, away from heat sources or direct sunlight.
Prevent DamageAvoid dropping or subjecting the CO2 extinguisher to rough handling that may damage its components.
Avoid ObstructionsEnsure that CO2 extinguishers are easily accessible and not obstructed by objects or debris.
Professional MaintenanceArrange for professional maintenance and servicing as recommended by the manufacturer or fire safety regulations.
Training and EducationProvide proper training to individuals on how to use CO2 extinguishers effectively and safely.
Replacement of Expired or Damaged ExtinguishersReplace CO2 extinguishers that have expired, been damaged, or show signs of wear and tear.
Proper DisposalFollow local regulations for the proper disposal of CO2 extinguishers that are no longer serviceable or expired.
Documented Record-keepingMaintain records of inspections, maintenance, and any incidents involving CO2 extinguishers for reference and compliance purposes.

Why are CO2 fire extinguishers considered essential for emergency situations?

In emergency situations, expensive CO2 fire extinguishers are considered essential due to their unique properties. Unlike other fire extinguishers, they contain carbon dioxide, which rapidly removes oxygen from the surrounding area and suppresses the fire. These extinguishers are particularly valuable for electrical fires as they do not leave any residue or damage the equipment. Additionally, the CO2 is non-toxic and does not conduct electricity, making it safe to use in sensitive environments.

When Not to Use CO2 Fire Extinguishers?

While CO2 fire extinguishers are versatile and effective in combating certain types of fires, there are situations where they should not be used due to safety concerns.

  • Class A Fires: CO2 extinguishers are not effective for fires involving wood, paper, or fabric.
  • Confined Spaces: Avoid using CO2 extinguishers in enclosed areas as they can cause oxygen deficiency.
  • Lack of Training: Only use CO2 extinguishers if you are properly trained on their operation.
  • Flammable Metals: CO2 extinguishers are not suitable for fires involving flammable metals.
  • Explosive Environments: Do not use CO2 extinguishers in areas at risk of explosion or with combustible dust present.


CO2 fire extinguishers serve as invaluable tools in fire safety, offering effective suppression for fires involving ignitable liquids, electrical equipment, and gases.

Their ability to displace oxygen and starve the fire of its fuel source makes them a reliable choice in critical situations. 

Their versatility, coupled with their effectiveness in tackling Class B and Class C fires, makes them an essential component of fire preparedness strategies. 

However, it is equally important to be aware of their limitations and know when it is not appropriate to use them.

Thanks for reading till the end.