Fire Extinguishers: Proper Selection
A portable fire extinguisher can be an effective tool for controlling
small household fires, potentially saving lives and property. However,
it's important to understand the types of household fire extinguishers
available, how to properly use them, and their limitations.
Types of household fire extinguishers:
Class A Extinguisher: For wood, paper, cloth, cardboard and most
ordinary combustibles. Contains water.
Class B Extinguisher: For flammable liquids, such as oil, solvents,
greases and gases. Contains dry chemicals, carbon dioxide or halogenated
agents, to smother the fire with foam.
Class C Extinguisher: For energized electrical equipment such as
electrical boxes, panels, transformers, etc. Contains dry chemicals, carbon
dioxide or halogenated agents, to smother the fire with foam.
To operate a fire extinguisher, remember the word PASS:
Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing
away from you and release the locking mechanism.
Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
Sweep the nozzle from side to side.
- Consider having one or more working fire extinguisher in your home
that carry the label of an independent testing laboratory. Multiple
rating extinguishers are available; Type A-B-C is recommended for home
use. Make sure it's large enough to put out a small fire, but not too
heavy to handle.
- Read the accompanying instructions and become familiar with all of
the extinguisher's parts and operation. Get training from the fire department
or fire extinguisher manufacturer on how to use it.
- When using a portable fire extinguisher, keep your back to a clear
exit to ensure an easy escape if the fire cannot be controlled. If you
try to use an extinguisher and the fire does not immediately subside,
drop it and get out. Most portable extinguishers empty in 8 to 10 seconds.
- Know when to go. In a fire, the first priority is to get out safely.
Use a portable fire extinguisher only when the fire is confined to a
small area and not growing, everyone has exited the building and the
fire department has been called. If the room fills with smoke, leave
- Make sure your portable fire extinguisher is properly charged. Use
the gauge or test button to check proper pressure. Follow manufacturer's
instructions for replacement or recharging.