Fire Extinguishers

When used properly, a portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by extinguishing a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives.

Although fire extinguishers are not always sufficient since they are not designed to fight a spreading fire, fire extinguishers can be useful under certain conditions. Fire extinguishers are rated according to the types of fire they are designed to fight:

  • Type A ordinary combustibles (such as wood, paper, or cloth)
  • Type B flammable liquids (such as gasoline, oil, paint and lacquer thinner)
  • Type C energized electrical equipment (such as fuse boxes, circuit breakers, machinery and appliances.

There are multi-purpose extinguishers which can be used on type B and C fires, or types A, B, and C fires. Follow these tips to ensure safety when operating a fire extinguisher:

  • The extinguisher must large enough to extinguish the fire.
  • Most portable extinguishers completely discharge in as few as eight seconds.
  • The extinguisher must be within easy reach, fully charged and in working order.
  • You must know how to operate the extinguisher. Read the instructions when you purchase the extinguisher. You will not have any time during the fire to read the directions.
  • Be sure you are strong enough to lift and operate the extinguisher.
  • Your back should be to a safe unobstructed exit to which the fire will not spread.
  • If you can not fight the fire or the extinguisher does not extinguish the fire, leave the area and call the fire department.
  • The use of the wrong type of extinguisher can intensify the fire.
  • If you decide to fight the fire, remember the word PASS:
    • Pull the pin
    • Aim Low: Point the nozzle at the base of the fire
    • Squeeze the handle
    • Sweep from side to side across the fire area
  • Always have an exit plan.