Home Fire Extinguishers
Fire Protective Services
When to use them - How to use them
Read the Label
Multipurpose fire extinguishers, labeled ABC, may be used on all classes of fire.
Extinguishers labeled for only Class A fires contain water and are unsuitable for use on grease or electrical fires.
A red slash through any of the symbols tells you the extinguisher cannot be used on that class of fire. A missing symbol tells you only that the extinguisher has not been tested for that class of fire.
If you use the wrong type of extinguisher, you can endanger yourself and even make the fire worse.
EXTINGUISHER SIZE: Portable extinguishers are rated for the size of fire they can handle. This rating is also on the label - for example, 2A:10B:C. The larger the numbers, the larger the fire that the extinguisher can put out, but higher-rated models are often heavier. Make sure you can hold and operate an extinguisher before you buy it. (Note: Many portable extinguishers discharge completely in as few as 8-10 seconds, which may not be enough to put out the fire.)
Installation and Maintenance
Take care of your extinguishers. Read your operator's manual, learn how to inspect your extinguisher, and follow the manufacturer's instructions for maintenance.
Rechargeable extinguishers must be serviced after every use. Service companies are listed in the Yellow Pages under "Fire Extinguishers". Disposable fire extinguishers can be used only once and must be replaced after use.
Fighting Small Fires: PASS
PULL the pin: This unlocks the operating lever and allows you to discharge the extinguisher. Some extinguishers may have other lever-release mechanisms.
AIM low: Point the extinguisher nozzle (or hose) at the base of the fire.
SQUEEZE the lever above the handle: This discharges the extinguishing agent. Releasing the lever will stop the discharge. (Some extinguishers have a button instead of a lever.)
SWEEP from side to side: Moving carefully toward the fire, keep the extinguisher aimed at the base of the fire and sweep back and forth until the flames appear to be out. Watch the fire area. If the fire reignites, repeat the process.
Always be sure the fire department inspects the fire site, even if you think you've extinguished the fire.
Should you Fight the Fire?
It's reckless to fight a fire in any other circumstances. Instead, leave immediately and close off the area.