Used properly, a portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives.

Portable extinguishers for home use, however, are not designed to fight large or spreading fires. Even against small fires, they are useful under only certain conditions.

The operator must know how to use the extinguisher.

The extinguisher must be the right type, within easy reach, and in working order, fully charged.

The operator must have a clear escape route that will not be blocked by fire.

The extinguisher must be large enough to put out the fire. Most extinguishers discharge completely in as few as 8 to 10 seconds. There are three basic classes of fires, Class A, Class B, and Class C. All fire extinguishers are labeled using standard symbols for the classes of fires they can put out. A slash through any of the symbols tells you the extinguisher cannot be used on that class of fire. A missing symbol tells you that the extinguisher has not been tested for a given class of fire.

Selecting Your Extinguisher

  • Class A: Ordinary combustibles such as wood, cloth and paper.
  • Class B: Flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil and oil-based paint.
  • Class C: Energized electrical equipment including wiring, fuse boxes, circuit breakers, machinery and appliances.

The extinguisher must be appropriate for the type of fire being fought. If you use the wrong type of extinguisher, you can endanger yourself and make the fire worse.

Multipurpose fire extinguishers, labeled ABC, may be used on all three classes of fire.

Remember the PASS-word
In the midst of a fire emergency is not the time to learn how to use your fire extinguisher. The instructions for use are displayed on the extinguisher. Take time to read over these instructions several times a year to remain familiar with them.

While trying to extinguish a fire with your fire extinguisher, always keep your back to an unobstructed exit, stand six to eight feet away from the fire, and remember the PASS- word……..PULL, AIM, SQUEEZE, and SWEEP!!