If you have a garage, workshop, or a welding shop, then you’re going to need fire extinguishers because of the different types of fire hazards present in these places, but what fire extinguishers do you buy? We’ve reviewed a bunch of extinguishers and we’ve found the best extinguishers on the market for use in these locations.
The best fire extinguishers for workshops are:
- The Amerex B402, 5lb ABC Dry Chemical Class Extinguisher
- The First Alert FE3A40GR Heavy Duty Plus Fire Extinguisher
The best fire extinguishers for garages are:
- The Amerex B441 Fire Extinguisher
- The Kidde 466204 Pro 10M Fire Extinguisher
The best fire extinguishers for welding are:
- The Buckeye 12905 ABC Multipurpose Fire Extinguisher
- The Amerex B570 Class D Sodium Chloride
We will review the good and bad of each of these extinguishers. We will also look at what to look for in a fire extinguisher, how fire extinguishers are rated, as well as some tips for preventing fires in your garage or workshop.
Your # 1 priority is keeping your family safe. As a firefighter, I recommend everyone has updated smoke detectors that don’t require battery changes, like these ones from Kidde, a fire extinguisher, like this one from Amerex, and a fire escape ladder if you have bedrooms above the first floor, I recommend this one from Hausse.
The Basics Of Fire Extinguishers
Before you buy any fire extinguisher, you need to know what kind of fire the extinguisher is suitable for. There are fire extinguishers that won’t help if you get a fire in a workshop, garage, or welding shop and, instead, they might even make the problem worse.
- Class A Fire Extinguishers – this is for the basic types of fire involving ordinary household/commercial materials such as wood, paper and cloth
- Class B Fire Extinguishers – this is for extinguishing fires that involve flammable liquids typically gasoline, oil, grease, etc.
- Class C Fire Extinguishers – this is used when you have a fire involving any electrical equipment such as your appliances, your computers, your TV, your tools, etc.
- Class D Fire Extinguishers – this is for a very specific fire type involving flammable metals and it is possible that if you’re welding, you might be at risk of these fires
- Class K Fire Extinguishers – these are for fires that are normally found in commercial or domestic kitchens involving animal oil, vegetable oil and other types of fat
Now, before you think, “oh my! I need a lot of different fire extinguishers.” There are fire extinguishers than can serve the purpose of extinguishing fires of multiple classes and you can buy combinations of either B and C or A, B, and C.
In most cases for a workshop, garage, or welding environment you will probably only need a combination A:B:C fire extinguisher.
However, it is important to note that this is not the case if you are doing magnesium-based welding. Magnesium is a highly flammable metal and if you tackle a magnesium fire with an A:B:C fire extinguisher things are going to get much worse than when you started.
For this kind of fire, you must have a Class D fire extinguisher on hand. This is not optional, and your insurer should expect this as part of your insurance policies.
Also read: Does Metal Burn In A Fire? Examined
Once you’ve examined the classes of fire extinguisher available to you – you will also note that before the A and B classifications most fire extinguishers will have a number.
That number relates to the amount of extinguishing agent is available in the fire extinguisher. The bigger the number, the more agent is available, and the bigger a blaze that you can tackle with that extinguisher.
A Class C fire extinguisher has no such number because this classification simply attests that the material in the fire extinguisher is not an electrical conductor. (That’s why it’s safe to use it on an electrical fire).
Just to explain the numbering system:
- Class A – the number refers to the equivalent extinguishing power of a number of gallons of water in the extinguisher multiplied by a factor of 1.25, so a fire extinguisher marked 2-A holds 2.5 gallons of water extinguishing power and one marked 4-A holds 5 gallons.
- Class B – the number on a Class B extinguisher is equivalent to the number of square feet you can cover with the agent. That is a 20-B will cover 20 square feet and a 50-B will cover 50 square feet.
It is very important to take into account the number when buying a fire extinguisher. While it can be tempting to save a few bucks by buying a smaller fire extinguisher – it might cost you a fortune when it runs out of material and a fire burns your property to the ground. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
The 6 Best Fire Extinguishers For Workshops/Garages/Welding Use
There are a lot of choices out there for fire extinguishers but we’ve narrowed it down to 6 with 2 for each workspace which should make things much simpler to choose the right product.
The Best Fire Extinguishers For A Garage
In order to distinguish a “garage” from a “workshop”, we’re going to assume that a garage is a small home/DIY operation and not a large commercial garage. If you’re involved in a commercial operation – you’d be better off looking at our best fire extinguisher for a workshop category.
About the Amerex B402: This is a multi-purpose extinguisher and that means you’re not going to have to buy several extinguishers. It will work on the fires you’re likely to deal with in this environment. It offers a better amount of extinguishing material than similar extinguishers by this manufacturer.
It takes about 14 seconds to empty this extinguisher and if the fire isn’t out by the time it’s empty – you need to call the emergency services and back off as the blaze is too serious to deal with using an extinguisher. You can stand up to 18 feet away from the fire and use this extinguisher and that means you should never need to put yourself in any kind of danger when using this fire extinguisher.
What We Liked
There’s a lot to like about this fire extinguisher and the fact it’s got a high classification, works on a large area of fire, can handle most types of fires, is completely refillable (which is going to save you money on replacements), has a wall bracket (so you can ensure that the extinguisher is always in the same place and doesn’t “walk” around the works space) and can be used at safe distances make it an unbeatable value.
What We Didn’t Like
It’s not the cheapest fire extinguisher on the market though, over time, refills will bring the overall cost of ownership down. Also, they don’t seem to have a good distributor arrangement – it’s hard to find on store shelves, you really need to get it from Amazon.
You can find The Amerex B402, 5lb ABC Dry Chemical Class Extinguisher on Amazon. You may want more than one, depending on the size and layout of your garage.
About the First Alert Pro5/Pro10: This is a very solidly made fire extinguisher and if you want a bigger version there’s also a 10lb option if you’re not sure that the 5lb one is enough for your needs. It’s exceptionally well made and that’s reflected by an incredible 12-year warranty on the product. It is also 3A:40BC.
First Alert is considered to be one of America’s top brands in the home safety space and they’ve been trading since 1958 which gives you confidence that they’ll be around to back up that warranty too.
Once again, this is a fully multi-purpose extinguisher and you can use it on pretty much any fire with complete confidence that it will get the job done.
What We Liked
The First Alert model has a high classification and thus will cover a large area when it is physically discharged. We’re very keen on the fact that it is also refillable – not only is this the eco-conscious way to choose a fire extinguisher but it saves money in the long-term. We also liked the well-made wall bracket and the super long warranty.
What We Didn’t Like
This is quite a bulky fire extinguisher and we can’t work out why it’s that much bigger than similar models. It is an expensive option, comparatively and while you may get that back over time in refills, it’s worth thinking about the initial outlay too.
You can find the First Alert Pro5/Pro10 Fire Extinguisher on Amazon.
The Best Fire Extinguishers For A Workshop
We are working on the assumption that a workshop is some form of commercial operation and that you’re going to need to be able to put out a bigger fire than you would in a DIY or home setting. If you think you need a smaller fire extinguisher – check out the best fire extinguisher for a garage section, instead.
The Amerex B441 is a very heavy duty extinguisher and it’s capable of tackling nearly every fire type that you might expect to face in a workshop (except for a Class D fire). It can withstand bitterly cold temperatures and extreme heat too without damage.
The all metal valve design ensures that this is built to last and can be refilled as needed. That’s going to make a big difference to the total cost of ownership for a fire extinguisher in a workshop setting and its very much worth having.
What We Liked
The extinguisher is properly labeled in two languages which is important in working environments. The large loop pull pin is very easy to remove and the 21-foot maximum range combined with a 20 second discharge time is excellent if you need to fight a serious fire. It is fully compliant with the NFPA safety standards too.
What We Didn’t Like
This is a fairly expensive device but that’s the case with almost all larger extinguishers. It can also be a bit heavy and it’s worth ensuring that your personnel can lift and operate a 19 lb extinguisher before investing in one. As with the other Amerex model above it can be hard to find.
You can find the Amerex B441 Fire Extinguisher on Amazon.
Another excellent extinguisher and it was only beaten out by the Amerex because the Amerex has a slightly larger capacity, but this is a very good product, indeed. It’s fully multi-purpose and that will keep the number of extinguishers you need, on hand, to a minimum.
The instructions are really easy to follow and the built in pressure gauge makes it very clear when the extinguisher is safe to use and when it needs refilling or re-pressurizing. Yes, it’s fully refillable too which keeps the long-term cost of ownership down.
What We Liked
You can get 19-21 feet away from the fire and still hit it with a 20-second discharge. The wall hook that is included in the box is very solid and ought to last at least as long as the extinguisher does. The 6-year warranty isn’t exactly generous but is about the industry standard for similar fire extinguishers.
What We Didn’t Like
It’s an expensive extinguisher and the initial outlay might put some workshop owners off, though the price reflects the quality of engineering. It’s also a heavy extinguisher at 17lbs and that might mean it’s too big to wield easily for some people.
You can find the Kidde 466204 Pro 10M Fire Extinguisher on Amazon.
The Best Fire Extinguishers For A Welding Shop
Because a welding shop represents a higher level of risk, we’ve recommended two different products – a large extinguisher capable of tackling very large fires and a class D extinguisher if you work with magnesium-based (or other flammable metals) welding.
1. The Biggest Fire Extinguisher: The Buckeye 12905 ABC Multipurpose Fire Extinguisher
The Buckeye 12905 is the biggest fire extinguisher in our round up by far, it’s the extinguisher you turn to when you know that you need to be able to fight large fires quickly and successfully without putting anyone at risk while they use it.
You need to be careful that an extinguisher like this doesn’t make people over-confident in their capability to fight a fire though and training to use it should be mandatory. There’s a handy “status at a glance dial” built in which makes using it correctly much easier.
What We Liked
A solid steel finish that ought to last nearly forever. You can choose which two language variants it comes in. It can discharge for a whopping 32 seconds and you can stand up to 30 feet away while you use it. The wall hook in the box is very well put together too.
What We Didn’t Like
The price tag is huge for this and you really need to be certain that you have the risks to justify the purchase within the work environment – if smaller will do, then our best fire extinguishers for workshops should be fine. This is also a huge fire extinguisher; it needs a strong back to use an extinguisher that weighs this much.
You can find the Buckeye 12905 ABC Multipurpose Fire Extinguisher on Amazon.
2. The Class D (Flammable Metal) Extinguisher: The Amerex B570 Class D Sodium Chloride
You will only need the Amerex B570 Class D Sodium Chloride fire extinguisher if you are welding with magnesium or other flammable metals. This flammable metal, if it catches fire, cannot be tackled with an A:B:C extinguisher and doing so would cause a serious fire.
However, there’s no getting around the fact that this is a big and expensive product. You would only want this extinguisher if you work with magnesium or other flammable metals.
What We Liked
As with all Amerex products this is very well built. The soft flow applicator works very well and make it super easy to control the flow of the sodium chloride. The yellow coloring of the extinguisher makes it very easy to tell from other extinguishers and reduces the chances of accidents in the event of a magnesium fire.
What We Didn’t Like
This is even bigger than the Buckeye extinguisher and even heavier and at 54.5 lbs shipped, you need someone very strong to use it effectively if they have to move it. The price tag is also huge but if you work with magnesium, you’re unlikely to find any bargains in this class of commercial fire extinguisher.
You can find the Amerex B570 Class D Sodium Chloride on Amazon.
The Criteria For A Good Fire Extinguisher
We look for certain criteria when determining a good fire extinguisher which includes:
- A reputable brand name
- A decent discharge distance
- A decent discharge time
- Ideally, it should be refillable
- The price should be fair for the size and rating of the extinguisher
- The manufacturer’s warranty
- In most cases, that the extinguisher is fully multi-purpose
- Overall ease of use
Consider Fire Extinguisher Training
If your garage, workshop or welding shop is a commercial operation – you will need to ensure that you train your staff in the use of fire extinguishers. But even if you are working from home, we’d strongly recommend that you get some training in the use of extinguishers.
If you don’t use a fire extinguisher in the correct manner you can end up spreading fire around rather than extinguishing it. This can cause even more damage in the long run.
Nobody should ever tackle a fire with an extinguisher, even if they have been trained, unless they feel safe to operate the extinguisher and believe that they can tackle the blaze effectively.
Here is some basic information on safe use of fire extinguishers from OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).
Make Sure To Monitor Your Fire Extinguishers
Over time, fire extinguishers lose pressure and become less effective when you use them. There’s an expiration date on your fire extinguisher for a good reason – after that date, it may not work when you use it to try and put out a fire.
You need to note the expiration dates of your extinguishers and either have them refilled professionally or replaced before they elapse. A fire extinguisher is of no value to you or your workshop, garage or welding shop if it doesn’t work.
Many cities will require businesses to have all fire extinguishers tested and re-certified every year.
For more information, read: Can a Fire Extinguisher Be Used More Than Once?
How To Prevent Fires In Your Garage Or Workshop
Do you know what’s better than a good fire extinguisher in an emergency? Not having an emergency in the first place. While you can’t prevent every fire, you can certainly prevent a lot of them. So, let’s take a look at some basic safety tips firstly for garages and workshops (which are very similar in a lot of respects) and then at welding (which is more complex).
Fire Prevention In Garages And Workshops
- Store flammable products carefully – make sure they’re kept locked up in a safe place when not in use.
- Keep the environment tidy – the more clutter that builds up in a space, the more fire risks appear.
- Dispose of waste properly – don’t leave empty bottles, newspapers, etc. hanging around get rid of things and make sure hazardous/flammable items get disposed of properly
- Make sure that everyone knows what do to keep fire hazards to a minimum
- Have a designated smoking area – it’s better to keep smokers away from the building and minimize the chances of a cigarette causing a fire
Fire Prevention In Welding Shops
1. Check Out The Surroundings Before You Weld
You should, ideally, make sure that there is a completely clear space around the welding area before you start to weld. It’s recommended that you ensure that space is at least 35 feet from the welding area.
If any hazards are within that space. Move them or cover them with burn-proof materials.
In the best welding shops the welding space is already designed with fire prevention in mind.
2. Flammable Materials Do Not Belong In Welding Areas
Sparks and explosions generated in welding can travel long distances – up to 35 feet. That means you need to ensure that nothing can catch fire in that range. No paper, no gas, no leaves, no paint, no cleaning products, etc.
If this isn’t possible then you need to invest in flame-resistant screens. They can be put around the flammable products and shield them. However, it’s worth noting that this solution is nowhere near as good as complete removal.
Also, if you cannot remove the flammable materials, it’s a good idea to assign a second worker to the area to act as a fire watcher. They should continue to observe the area for 30 minutes after welding has stopped. This ensures that any small fire that escapes initial notice doesn’t become a bigger problem later on.
3. Cover Cracks in Windows, Doors, Covering Materials
Sparks and pieces of molten metal can fit through the smallest of spaces. The welding area should be sealed, as best as possible, to prevent this from happening. There’s no point moving flammable material into an adjoining room if a spark can fit through the keyhole on the dividing doors.
4. Wear Personal Protective Equipment At All Times
The worst possible kind of fire, from a welder’s point of view, is one that starts on a human being – namely the welder. So, if you’re going to be welding then you want to be completely covered in fireproof or fire-resistant clothing and your eyes should always be shielded too.
We hope that our guide to the 6 best fire extinguishers for workshop/garage/welding use has been helpful and that not only do you know how to choose the right fire extinguisher for this kind of area, but that you are also more familiar with how to prevent fires in the first place.
Fire is becoming rarer in the United States and that’s a good thing. The more safety processes you can build into your life and work routines the safer you will be and the lower the chance of ever needing that fire extinguisher that you bought.