Fire Extinguisher Tips

Buying a Fire Extinguisher

  • Extinguishers come in dry chemical, foam, carbon dioxide, water, or Halon types. Whichever you buy, it should be labeled by a testing laboratory.
  • The higher the number rating on the extinguisher, the more fire it puts out. Usually, the higher the number rating, the larger and heavier the extinguisher. Make sure you can lift and manage the size you buy, but it should be large enough for the potential fire hazard. A typical rating would look like this: 2-A: 10-B:C and there should be at least one on each floor level.
  • Ask the dealer where the extinguisher can be refilled and serviced. Recharge it after any use. S ome extinguishers are disposable after use. Dispose of it properly.
  • Extinguishers should be installed away from potential fire hazards and near an escape route.
  • It is very dangerous to use water or an extinguisher labeled as an A type on an electrical fire. It must have the C type rating on it.
  • Install the extinguisher above the reach of small children.

Extinguishing Agents

A fire extinguisher is a container for an extinguishing agent such as water or chemicals. It is designed to put out a small fire - not a big one!

An extinguisher is labeled according to whether the fire occurs in wood, cloth, flammable liquids, and electrical or metal sources. Using one type of extinguisher on another type of fire can make the fire much worse. Learn how extinguishers are labeled and used. Most fires that may occur within a home can be extinguished with a multi-purpose dry chemical labeled ABC or ABCD. The ABC extinguisher will put out most wood, paper, cloth, flammable liquids, and electrical fires. The ABCD will also extinguish a metal source fire.

Classes of Combustibles:

  1. Paper, Cardboard, Wood
  2. Flammable/Combustible Liquids
  3. Electrically Energized Equipment / Wiring
  4. Flammable Metals

The 4th type of extinguisher is labeled as a “D” type extinguisher and has no symbol other than the letter “D” within a 5-pointed star. This “D” type extinguisher is for combustible metals such as magnesium and sodium. These are usually found in machine shops where metal shavings are prevalent.

How to Use an Extinguisher

Although there are many extinguishers that work with the directions below, please read the instructions for your extinguisher for any variations.

  1. If there is a fire, FIRST get everyone outside. Call the Fire Department, and then fight only small fires with your extinguisher. Stay between the fire and the exit. Do not let the fire block your escape path.
  2. If you do not put the fire out within 30 seconds, you have a fire out of control! Close all doors to contain the fire and to reduce the spread of the fire, and leave the building. Go to the planned outside meeting area and stay there. If you inhaled any smoke, immediately notify an emergency medic for an evaluation.

Remember the word PASS when using the fire extinguisher:

  • PULL the Pin: Some extinguishers require releasing a lock latch, pressing a puncture lever, or taking another first step.
  • AIM Low: Point the extinguisher nozzle (or its horn or hose) at the base of the fire.
  • SQUEEZE the Handle: This releases the extinguishing agent.
  • SWEEP from Side to Side: Keep the extinguisher aimed at the base of the fire and sweep back and forth until the fire is out. Watch the fire area. If the fire breaks out again, repeat the process.