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Using a Home Fire Extinguisher

Purchasing a Fire Extinguisher

The Fire Department recommends a 2A:10BC minimum size fire extinguisher. This extinguisher weighs about five pounds. The rating is found on the label. The A:B:C rating extinguishes all types of fires, including common combustibles like wood and paper, flammable liquids like cooking oil, and electrical. This extinguisher will provide approximately eight to 25 seconds of extinguishing agent, and has a 12 to 20 foot extinguishing range. Extinguishers can be purchased through fire extinguisher companies or at local hardware and department stores. They range in price, and start at about $30.

In the Event of a Fire:

The first priority is to start evacuation of the home or building. If possible, contain the fire by closing a door and alert everyone there is a fire. If you live in an apartment, pull the fire alarm. Make sure everyone starts to evacuate immediately. Send someone to call 9-1-1 to report the fire. Safety comes first-only fight a fire using a fire extinguisher if the user is comfortable doing so.

Only Use a Fire Extinguisher If:

  • The home or building is already being evacuated.
  • The fire is small.
  • The fire will not block an escape path if it gets too big.
  • The user is aware of how to use an extinguisher.
  • If the fire cannot be extinguished, contain it to the room by closing doors. Evacuate immediately. If there is smoke, remember to crawl low.

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher:

  • P - A - S - S is an easy way to help you remember how to use a fire extinguisher.
    • P - Pull the pin
    • A - Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire
    • S - Squeeze the handle
    • S - Sweep the nozzle back and forth, walking towards the fire
  • Stand about 12 to 20 feet away from the fire, and walk towards it while spraying the extinguishing agent at the base of the fire.
  • After the fire is extinguished, watch to make sure the fire doesn't flare up again.
  • Always make sure to report any fire to the fire department by calling 9-1-1.

Fire Extinguisher Maintenance:

Once a fire extinguisher has been used, it cannot be used again unless it is serviced by a fire extinguisher company. The gauge on the extinguisher should always be in the green area. Fire extinguishers can also simply be replaced. When you purchase your extinguishers, consider the types of fittings. Many service companies will not service and recharge extinguishers with plastic fittings because they may leak after. They will service extinguishers with metal fittings.

Examine extinguishers on a regular basis. Check to make sure the gauge is in the green area. To loosen up the powder, hold the extinguisher at an angle and hit it on the floor. Then rotate the extinguisher back and forth so the chemical moves through the vessel.

Extinguisher Locations:

Extinguishers should be located both in the home and in the garage. Make sure they are easily accessible and will not become blocked by storage or other items. In a multi-family complex, fire extinguishers should be located in the common areas. For added protection, personal fire extinguishers can be placed in each unit. Also put extinguishers in motor and recreational vehicles, such as motor homes, campers, trailers and boats.