Keeping one or more fire extinguishers in key locations around your home is an important fire safety practice.
Types of Fire Extinguishers
Fire extinguishers come in five classifications, depending on the type of fire. Some extinguishers are rated for multiple types of fire. It is important to use the right extinguisher or it can be dangerous.
- Class A – for fires that contain ordinary combustibles such as paper, wood, cloth, plastics and rubber
- Class B – for fires that contain flammable liquids like oil, grease and gasoline
- Class C – for fires involving energized electrical equipment such as tools or appliances
- Class D – for fires involving combustible metals (used in factories)
- Class K – for fires involving vegetable-based oils used in deep frying (used in commercial kitchens)
- Class A-B-C – a multi-purpose extinguisher ideally suited for residential use in kitchens and garages
Be sure to purchase a fire extinguisher that is tested by an independent testing laboratory (“UL” marking). And, make sure you are physically able to handle the extinguisher. Some models are heavy and may be hard to operate and hold at the same time.
Using a Fire Extinguisher
Know how to operate the extinguisher quickly. You won’t have time to read the instructions during an emergency! When using a fire extinguisher, remember the word P.A.S.S.– Pull. Aim. Squeeze. Sweep.
- Pull the pin. Some extinguishers require unlocking a latch or pressing a puncture lever.
- 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 side to side at the base of the fire. Continue until the fire appears to be out.
When NOT to Fight a Fire
If any of these conditions exist, shut the door to keep the fire contained then get out and wait for the fire department:
- If the fire could block your only exit
- If the fire is spreading too quickly
- If the fire is too large
- If your house is filling with smoke
- If you are unsure how to use your fire extinguisher
- If your instincts simply tell you not to
- Only use a fire extinguisher after you have called 911 and all members of your home have been alerted to the fire. Make sure you can stay low to avoid the smoke and that the fire is not blocking your only exit.
- Most fires start small. If the fire is contained to a single object, such as a trash can, you may want to try using a fire extinguisher to put out the flames. Remember you only have seconds – a fire burning for just one minute will have tripled its original size.
- Use a lid to cover a frying pan fire. This cuts off the source of oxygen and chokes out the fire.
- Keep your fire extinguisher in an easily accessible area. Make sure it is not blocked by anything that would keep you from grabbing it quickly in an emergency.
For more information, call the SVFD Prevention Division at 892-4153.