When 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. It is very important to use the right type of fire extinguisher when putting out a small fire.
- Fires in paper, wood, drapes and upholstery require an extinguisher labelled A.
- Fires in fuel oil, gasoline, paint, grease in a frying pan, solvents, and other flammable liquids require an extinguisher labelled B.
- Fires started in wiring, overheated fuse boxes, conductors, and other electrical sources require an extinguisher labelled C.
- Certain metals such as magnesium and sodium require special dry powder extinguishants labelled D.
A 5 lb. ABC Multi-Purpose extinguisher is the recommended size and type for home use. If you choose to place more than one extinguisher in your home, a BC extinguisher is recommended for the kitchen, an A extinguisher for the living room and an ABC extinguisher for the basement and garage.
Read the operation instructions carefully with all family members so everyone will be ready during an emergency.Buying/Maintaining an Extinguisher
Extinguishers come in dry chemical, foam, carbon dioxide, water or halon types. Whatever type you buy, it should be labelled by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
The higher the number rating on the extinguisher, the more fire it puts out. High rated ones are often (not always) the heavier models. Make sure you can hold and operate the one you might buy for home use or be required to use at work.
Ask your dealer how to have your extinguisher serviced and inspected. Recharge it after ANY use. A partially used extinguisher might as well be empty.Before Attempting to Fight a Fire
Is everyone out of the building?
Ensure someone has called 9-1-1 and asked for the Fire Department.
You know you have a class ABC extinguisher, and you already know how to operate it.
The fire is small and contained in the area where it started.
Can you fight the fire with your back toward a safe escape exit?
Remember, portable fire extinguishers are not designed to fight a large or spreading fire. If you have the slightest doubt if you should fight the fire - DON'T, just get out fast!