The Best Fire Extinguishers for Homeowners of 2018

By Julia MacDougall

Fire extinguishers are a vital aspect of fire safety; they can prevent extensive property damage, and save lives. Fortunately, any extinguisher you choose to purchase will do its job well thanks to strict government regulations the devices must pass before being sold. So there is no "best," but knowing which one to buy can still be challenging. Fire extinguisher buying guides aren't drilled into us like the "stop, drop and roll" advice we were taught as kids.

So I got my hands on a few of the most commonly recommended fire suppression products and tried them out. One fire extinguisher or suppression device isn’t really more effective than the others, but they are most useful in specific situations.

For example, the First Alert Tundra aerosol spray (available at Amazon for $12.79) is great for small kitchen fires; the Kidde Pro 210 (available at Amazon) is lightweight and effective at smothering small fires elsewhere in the home. The Amerex B456 (available at Amazon) is a full-sized, heavy-duty fire extinguisher that could save entire rooms of your home.

To find out which fire extinguisher is best for you and your circumstances, read on.

— Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Updated November 14, 2018

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Things to Know About Fire Extinguishers

Credit: Reviewed.com / Jackson Ruckar

According to former fire chief and certified fire extinguisher instructor Daniel Stewart, it’s best to have a type ABC fire extinguisher at 50-foot intervals in a home. They should be strategically placed near hazards and along paths of egress so that, if a fire does occur, you have the option to try to combat it, or to exit the building.

In general, fire suppression devices in your home should be listed for type A, B, and C fires, and should have a minimum of five to 10 pounds of powder agent. While these fire extinguishers aren’t the best at fighting common kitchen and grease fires (that’s what a class K fire extinguisher is for), as Stewart says, “A:B:C suppression devices are the easiest to use, and lower the likelihood of someone making a mistake at a crucial moment while fighting a fire.”

When deciding which suppression device is best for you, one of the main factors to consider is if you’re capable of wielding it in a hurry; I tried out each suppression device so that I could make helpful recommendations as to which devices are best for your specific use case.

Fire Extinguishers We Tested

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Credit: Reviewed.com / Jackson Ruckar

Kidde Pro 210

Kidde Pro 210

Use case: Small- to medium-sized fires outside the kitchen

Fire types: Trash/wood/paper, liquid/gas, electrical

Class: 2A:10B:C

Extinguisher weight: 8 pounds

Reusable: Yes

Warranty: 6-year

The Kidde Pro 210 fire extinguisher has a metal handle and comes with a wall-mounting bracket and a “Fire Extinguisher” sticker that can be placed on the wall above the bracket.

Like all fire extinguishers, the Kidde Pro 210 has a factory-sealed plastic loop around the pin that prevents it from falling out unless it’s pulled. The Pro 210 only has one small, easily-breakable plastic loop, and the fire extinguisher itself is relatively lightweight; most people, including children and older folks, should not have a problem in pulling out the pin, aiming the hose, and using this fire extinguisher.

The bottom line: Small, but powerful, the Kidde Pro 210 fire extinguisher is easy to use in an emergency for everyone, young and old.

First Alert Home 2 Pro

First Alert Home 2 Pro

Use case: Small- to medium-sized household fires

Fire types: Trash/wood/paper, liquid/gas, electrical

Class: 2A:10B:C

Extinguisher weight: 10 pounds

Reusable: Yes

Warranty: 12-year limited

The First Alert Home 2 Pro has a metal canister and handle, comes with a mounting bracket, and a single factory-sealed plastic loop around the pin.

It’s a bit tougher to move and lift than the Kidde Pro 210—which is two pounds lighter—but it’s still small enough that older children and adults can wield it pretty easily. Its shorter trigger may be more difficult for those with larger hands to use, but it will definitely get the job done.

The bottom line: If you can lift and hold 10 pounds at waist height, then you can use this fire extinguisher.

Amerex B500

Amerex B500

Use case: Small- to medium-sized household fires

Fire types: Trash/wood/paper, liquid/gas, electrical

Class: 2A:10B:C

Extinguisher weight: 9 pounds

Reusable: Yes

Warranty: 6-year

The Amerex B500 is a solidly-built fire extinguisher and comes with a mounting bracket. While this fire extinguisher only has one safety loop around the pin, it also has a piece of plastic that keeps the pin attached to the handle, so that it can be easily retrieved if the fire extinguisher is recharged.

Because of that second piece of plastic, it takes a bit more effort to pull the pin out if you’re in a hurry. While its nine-pound weight isn’t too much to hold, between its weight and the extra pin holder, this fire extinguisher is best left to those who have used fire extinguishers before, and are used to removing more complex pin mechanisms in a hurry.

The bottom line: Among the weightiest of the fire extinguishers containing five pounds of agent, the Amerex is best used in the hands of those who've operated fire extinguishers before.

Kidde Pro 10 MP

Kidde Pro 10 MP

Use case: Medium- to large-sized household fires

Fire types: Trash/wood/paper, liquid/gas, electrical

Class: 4A:60B:C

Extinguisher weight: 16 pounds

Reusable: Yes

Warranty: 6-year limited

The Kidde Pro 10 MP fire extinguisher is meant to take down larger fires in larger rooms. This all-metal fire extinguisher also comes equipped with a metal mounting bracket.

This fire extinguisher has about 10 pounds of suppression agent, and is more closely related to the types of fire extinguishers professional firefighters use than the smaller fire extinguishers mentioned previously. This fire extinguisher has a relatively small handle and trigger, so it may be difficult to use for those with larger hands. Also, while 16 pounds doesn’t sound like a lot, it is noticeably heavier than the smaller extinguishers, and is more cumbersome to use, even if you’re just holding it while you use it from a stationary position. If you have this fire extinguisher in your house, think about practicing with it a couple of times so that you can get used to the weight (you can always get the fire extinguisher recharged/refilled).

The bottom line: This fire extinguisher is best for use in large spaces and by those who have experience wielding fire extinguishers.

Amerex B456

Amerex B456

Use case: Medium- to large-sized household fires

Fire types: Trash/wood/paper, liquid/gas, electrical

Class: 4A:60B:C

Extinguisher weight: 18 pounds

Reusable: Yes

Warranty: 6-year

The heaviest of all of the fire extinguishers we tested, the Amerex B456 fire extinguisher also comes with a bracket that allows you to mount this extinguisher to the wall. Like the Amerex B500, the B456 also has the safety loop and the second piece of plastic that keeps the pin attached to the fire extinguisher.

Its construction is solid and durable, but that extra weight and larger height will make it difficult for younger or shorter people to use easily. Even with the B456’s larger handle, which makes spraying the suppression agent a breeze, consider either practicing with this fire extinguisher (and recharging it afterwards), or make sure that the person most likely to be using this product in the case of a fire has actually used fire extinguishers before, and can get it up and running quickly.

The bottom line: While the B456 is best for those with upper body strength and have used fire extinguishers in the past, it has plenty of powder for putting out bigger fires.

How We Tested

Who am I?

Hi, my name is Julia MacDougall, and I’m the Senior Scientist here at Reviewed. Recently, I’ve tested products that might be boring to most people—smart thermostats, shredders, and dehumidifiers—so, in that same vein, it’s not surprising that I volunteered to test fire extinguishers. But trying out fire extinguishers is something I already wanted to do: It's a good skill to have while working in a complex lab setting like our building in Cambridge, Mass.

Also, using a fire extinguisher in a non-fire situation was on my bucket list. Check!

The Testing

As we all know, the main purpose of a fire extinguisher is to put out or contain a wide variety of fires that can occur in our homes or workplaces. If I really wanted to put these to the test, I would have set fire to a variety of materials, and gauge how effective these suppression devices actually were. However, between my own desire to stay out of jail and the fact that each of these devices has a UL quality certification, which involves strict testing and regulation by the government, I decided against becoming an arsonist in the name of science.

Instead, I just used the fire extinguishers. Since people have so little contact with these products until they need them, I wanted to get a sense for the type of experience someone would have with each fire suppression device. Under the careful eye of former chief Stewart, I tried out both the fire extinguishers and the other suppression devices in the parking lot outside our building. Passers-by were doubtlessly confused by the clouds of yellow-gray and pinkish dust, but seeing what these devices were like in action was very instructive.

More to Know About Fire Extinguishers

Classifications

Fire suppression devices are classified using a letter system.

Class K – cooking oil and grease fires

Class A – “ordinary combustibles” like wood, paper, cloth, and rubber

Class B – flammable liquids like oils and gases (does NOT include class K fires like grease and cooking oil fires commonly found in the kitchen)

Class C – devices with a live electrical current (appliances, computers, etc.)

The average fire extinguisher you see in a home or workplace is an A:B:C fire extinguisher, which means that it’s safe for use on fires of type A, B, and C. Sometimes, there are numbers in front of the “A” and “B” ratings. A number in front of an A type is a powder’s effective equivalency to gallons of water. “2A” translates into 2.5 gallons of water. A number in front of the B rating refers to the estimated square foot of coverage. For example, a 10B:C refers to a fire extinguisher with an amount of agent that could cover 10 square feet. There is no number in front of C ratings; the presence of a C rating merely indicates that it’s safe to use in an environment with live electricity.

Using a Fire Extinguisher

It is recommended that the operator become familiar with the operation of the fire extinguisher through training and the acronym PASS:

P - pull the pin

A - aim at the base of the flame

S - squeeze the trigger

S - sweep the spray from side to side

In the event of a fire, call 911.

Cleaning Up

Clean up post-fire extinguisher usage may seem trivial, but if you've ever had to use a fire extinguisher, chances are that you probably have significant property damage, and the task of actually cleaning up all of that dust seems like the rotten cherry on top of the unlucky fire sundae. Fortunately, all of the powder and liquid agents in these devices are non-toxic, and can be cleaned up with a thorough vacuuming/sweeping/scrubbing. Additionally, any fabrics (like curtains, rugs, bedding, etc.) exposed to the suppression agent should be washed as soon as possible.


Other Supression Devices

firestop_pic
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jackson Ruckar

StoveTop FireStop

StoveTop FireStop

Use case: Kitchen fires on an electric cooktop

Fire type: Grease

Class: K

Reusable: No

Warranty: 1-year

StoveTop FireStop is a neat product that passively suppresses fires that occur on your cooktop. These pods of powder attach to the underside of your rangehood magnetically (about 2’-3’ above the cooktop), and when the small wick at the bottom of the pod is ignited by a rising kitchen fire, it blows out the bottom of the pod, and the powder covers and smothers the once-flaming cooktop. The sound accompanying the blow out is slightly louder than a firecracker, so even if you’re in another room, you’ll definitely hear it go off.

Credit: Reviewed.com / Jackson Ruckar

This product is great for grease fires, burnt food, and pans that get left on the stove for too long. Despite each pod’s relatively small size, it contains a surprising amount of powder. However, the FireStop is not recommended for use on gas cooktops, since it may extinguish the burner flame.

firestop_after
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jackson Ruckar

The blown-out shell of the StoveTop FireStop, once all of the suppression agent has been deployed.

The bottom line: StoveTop FireStop is an easy, low-effort way to start combatting fires that arise during cooking, or fires that spring up when food is left unattended on the cooktop.

First Alert Tundra aerosol spray

First Alert Tundra aerosol spray

Use case: Those inexperienced with fire extinguishers who are attempting to quell small fires

Fire types: Grease, fabric/trash, electrical

Class: A:C

Reusable: No

Warranty: 3-year limited

The First Alert Tundra Fire spray is basically a fire suppression liquid inside an aerosol can. You just have to take the top off, stand 3-4 feet away from the fire, and spray Tundra with a sweeping motion across the base (at the bottom and in front of) the fire.

tundra_pic_action
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jackson Ruckar

The aerosol can is lightweight, easy to aim, and easy to use. It’s well-reviewed online, but more than a few users mentioned one potential down-side. If circumstances arise where you have to use Tundra on short notice, like, you know, if a small fire broke out, it can take a few valuable seconds to actually ascertain which way the nozzle of the aerosol can is pointing. One reviewer’s genius solution to this problem? Draw an arrow in the direction of the spray on top of the can with a Sharpie. Then, when you need it most, there’s no doubt as to which way you should aim the Tundra spray.

tundra_after
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jackson Ruckar

The bottom line: Tundra spray is great to have on hand for those who would have a tough time lifting or using a fire extinguisher, or for small fires in the kitchen that can be put out quickly.

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