How Big is a Fire Extinguisher?

Everybody knows what a fire extinguisher is – it’s that red cylinder on the wall with a hose in the end. It’s a pretty common fixture in houses and buildings as a form of preventive measure in case of a fire. It’s great to have one in an emergency and it can do a nice job at quelling small fires or the beginnings of a huge disastrous fire. You never know when your home or office may need one so it’s a lot better have one or two of these at hand.

Sizes and Dimensions

Note that manufacturers have made these devices in various sizes. The sizes of the cylinders can be classified by the capacity of each unit. The unit capacities of fire extinguishers are 2.5 lb, 5 lb, 10 lb, and 20 lb capacity. However, it should always be noted that there are extinguishers that are smaller than 2.5 lbs and there are those that are larger than 20 lb cylinders.

A 2.5 lb capacity cylinder will usually be 15.5 inches tall with a width of 5.5 inches. It will usually have a depth of three inches. An extinguisher of this size has a range of nine to 15 feet. An extinguisher cylinder that has a capacity of 5 lbs will usually be 15.5 inches tall and eight inches wide. It will have a depth of 4.5 inches and a range of 12 to 18 feet.

An extinguisher cylinder that has a total capacity of 10 lbs will usually be about 20.5 inches in height and it will be about 8.75 inches wide. It will have a depth of five inches and a range of 15 to 21 feet. Finally, a fire extinguisher that has a capacity of 20 lbs will be about 24 inches tall and will be around 10 1/4 inches wide. It will have a depth of seven inches and a range of 15 to 21 feet.

Extinguishing Agents

A fire extinguisher is will only be as good as the extinguishing agent it contains. Manufacturers use different types of extinguishing agents to address different needs. There are dry chemical extinguishing agents, foams, water, water additives and wet chemicals, carbon dioxide and clean agents, and Class D extinguishing agents. These different agents also represent different approaches to extinguishing flames.


Before heading to purchase a fire extinguisher, one should take note of the fact that there are two major types of extinguishers offered by the many companies that manufacture them. The two major types are cartridge operated extinguishers and stored pressure extinguishers.

In the case of stored pressure type extinguishers, the extinguishing agent is contained in the same compartment as the expellant. This is not the case with cartridge operated extinguishers since the expellant is contained in a separate chamber.

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