Fire Extinguisher Colour Codes
IS EN3-7 2004 requires that all fire extinguisher bodies should be predominantly red in colour. In most European countries, the body of the extinguisher is completely red. However, virtually all fire extinguishers available in Ireland and the UK apply a colour coding system that is specified in BS 7863:2009.
This fire extinguisher colour-coding system enables the user to quickly identify a fire extinguisher's extinguishing medium by a colour code that is carried on a band that is positioned above or below the operating instructions on the front of the extinguisher so that it is visible from a 180° horizontal arc when the extinguisher is wall-mounted. This band should not be greater than 10% of the surface area and not less than 3% (BS 7863:1996, now withdrawn, specified not greater than 5%).
Each extinguishing medium is assigned its own colour code: red for water, cream for foam, blue for dry power, and black for carbon dioxide. A fifth colour, yellow, is added for the new Wet Chemical type of fire extinguisher.
Unfortunately, there is no IS equivalent to BS 7863:2009 to standardise the colour coding of fire extinguishers in Ireland, so some Irish manufacturers/importers of fire extinguishers deviate from BS 7863:2009 by using the background colour of a self-adhesive instruction label that is affixed to the front of the extinguisher as the colour code to identify its extinguishing medium instead of a band. Apart from the confusion created by different methods of colour coding, in some cases the colour code use on the background of the label also causes the extinguisher to fall foul of the IS EN3-7 2004 requirement to be predominantly red.