Fire Extinguishers

A portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives; but portable extinguishers have limitations. Because fire grows and spreads so rapidly, the number one priority for residents is to get out safely.

Safety tips:

  • Use a portable fire extinguisher when the fire is confined to a small area, such as a wastebasket, and is not growing; everyone has exited the building; the fire department has been called or is being called; and the room is not filled with smoke.
  • 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
      - Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
      - Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
      - Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.
  • For the home, select a multi-purpose extinguisher (can be used on all types of home fires) that is large enough to put out a small fire, but not so heavy as to be difficult to handle.
  • Choose a fire extinguisher that carries the label of an independent testing laboratory.
  • Read the instructions that come with the fire extinguisher and become familiar with its parts and operation before a fire breaks out. Local fire departments or fire equipment distributors often offer hands-on fire extinguisher trainings.
  • Install fire extinguishers close to an exit and keep your back to a clear exit when you use the device so you can make an easy escape if the fire cannot be controlled. If the room fills with smoke, leave immediately.
  • Know when to go. Fire extinguishers are one element of a fire response plan, but the primary element is safe escape. Every household should have a home fire escape plan and working smoke alarms.
Fire Extinguisher Types
There is no official standard in the United States for the color of fire extinguishers, though they are typically red, except for Class D extinguishers, which are usually yellow, and water, which are usually silver, or white if water mist. Extinguishers are marked with pictograms depicting the types of fires that the extinguisher is approved to fight. In the past, extinguishers were marked with colored geometric symbols, and some extinguishers still use both symbols. The types of fires and additional standards are described in NFPA 10: Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers, 2007 edition.
Fire Class Geometric Symbol   Pictogram Intended Use
A Green Triangle Garbage can and wood pile burning Ordinary solid combustibles
B Red Square Fuel container and burning puddle Flammable liquids and gases
C Blue Circle Electric plug and burning outlet Energized electrical equipment
D Yellow Decagon (Star) Burning Gear and Bearing Combustible metals
K Black Hexagon Pan burning Cooking oils and fats
The Underwriters Laboratories rate fire extinguishing capacity in accordance with UL/ANSI 711: Rating and Fire Testing of Fire Extinguishers. The ratings are described using numbers preceding the class letter, such as 1-A:10-B:C. The number preceding the A multiplied by 1.25 gives the equivalent extinguishing capability in gallons of water. The number preceding the B indicates the size of fire in square feet that an ordinary user should be able to extinguish. There is no additional rating for class C, as it only indicates that the extinguishing agent will not conduct electricity, and an extinguisher will never have a rating of just C.
Choosing The Right Fire Extinguisher For your Home

The there are many types of Fire Extinguishers, the most common home fire extinguisher is the ABC fire extinguisher. This means that it can be used to put out fires in all three of these categories. The ABC extinguisher contains an extinguishing agent and uses a compressed, non-flammable gas as a propellant.

Extinguishers are also rated by their size, which indicates how much extinguishing product is in the extinguisher and how long it will typically discharge the extinguishing agent before it is empty (this should be noted on the label). Your home extinguisher should be of the 2, 5, or 10 pound capacity. The two pound extinguisher is going to be effective only on very small fires. These are often decorative extinguishers for the kitchen and may only be rated for Type B or C fires. You will want to purchase a 5 or 10 pound extinguisher. You will be able to put out a small fire in your home and it will be of the size and weight that will make it easy to use.

Choosing The Right Place For Your Fire Extinguisher In Your Home.
A fire extinguisher should be placed on each floor in your home.  Make sure they are not accessible to small children. You should place one in or near your Kitchen, Garage and/or Home Workshop. Since a potential fire in these locations could be larger than in the living space of the home, have a Fire Extinguisher in these places can be key to extinguishing a small fire.  Each extinguisher should be installed in plain view near an escape route and away from potential fire hazards such as heating appliances.