Carbon Dioxide extinguishers are filled with non-flammable carbon dioxide gas under extreme pressure. You can recognize a CO2 extinguisher by its hard horn and lack of pressure gauge. The pressure in the cylinder is so great that when you use one of these extinguishers, bits of dry ice may shoot out the horn.
CO2 cylinders are red and range in size from 5 lbs to 100 lbs or larger. In the larger sizes, the hard horn will be located on the end of a long, flexible hose. CO2s are designed for Class B and C
Carbon dioxide extinguishes work by displacing oxygen, or taking away the oxygen element of the fire triangle. The carbon dioxide is also very cold as it comes out of the extinguisher, so it cools the fuel as well. CO2s may be ineffective at extinguishing Class A fires because they may not be able to displace enough oxygen to successfully put the fire out. Class A materials may also smolder and re-ignite.
CO2s will frequently be found in laboratories, mechanical rooms, kitchens, and flammable liquid storage areas. All CO2 extinguishers at USC undergo hydrostatic testing and recharge every five years.