Fire extinguishers can save lives and property by putting out small fires, or containing them until the fire department arrives.
Read the manufacturer’s instructions and familiarize yourself with your extinguisher before you have a fire. When using an extinguisher on a fire, keep your back to a clear exit and stand six to eight feet (two to three meters) away from the fire.
Before You Fight a Fire, Perform a Quick Check
- Is everyone else our of the building and is someone calling the Fire Department - 911?
- Is the fire is small, confined, and not spreading?
- Do you have an unobstructed escape route?
- Is your extinguisher right for the fire?
- Do you know how to use the extinguisher?
Fire Extinguisher Operation - PASS
Always call the Fire Department to inspect the fire site even if you think the fire is extinguished.
- P- Pull the pin that unlocks the operating lever. Some models may have other lever-release mechanisms.
- A- Aim low. Point the extinguisher nozzle or hose at the base of the fire.
- S- Squeeze the lever above the handle to discharge the extinguishing agent. To stop the discharge, release the lever. Some models may have a button instead of a lever.
- S- Sweep the nozzle or hose from side to side. Moving carefully toward the flames, keep the extinguisher aimed at the base of the fire and sweep back and forth.
Once the fire is out, watch the fire area and be prepared to repeat the process if the fire re-ignites.
Classes of Fires
There are three common classes of fire.
- Class A fires involve paper, wood, and other ordinary combustibles.
- Class B fires involve flammable liquids, such as oil, some paints, and gasoline.
- Class C fires involve energized electrical equipment such as power tools, wiring, fuse boxes, appliances, TVs, computers, and electrical motors.
Fire Extinguishers for Each Class of Fire
- Extinguishers are labeled with standard symbols or letters for the classes of fire they can put out.
- An extinguisher labeled A:B:C may be used on all three classes of fire.
- Extinguishers labeled only for Class A fires contain water and are dangerous if used on grease or electrical fires.
- A red slash through any symbol means you cannot use the extinguisher on that class of fire.
- A missing symbol means that the extinguisher hasn’t been tested for that class of fire.
Fire Extinguisher Maintenance
- Inspect your extinguisher for damage once a month and keep it fully charged. See manufacturer’s instructions for details.
- Rechargeable extinguishers need to be serviced after each use. To find a servicer, search for "Fire Extinguishers" in the Yellow Pages or online.
- Disposable units can only be used once.
- Most portable extinguishers can only be used once.