Portable Fire Extinguishers

General Extinguisher Information

Use fire extinguishers to contain or extinguish small fires until the Fire Department arrives on the scene. The extinguisher must be the correct size to handle the fire. Do not try to fight a large fire with a portable fire extinguisher. Additionally, remember that the extinguisher must be within reach and in good operating condition. You must also have an escape route that is not blocked by fire.

Choosing an Extinguisher

It is important to remember to use the correct extinguisher for the fire (for instance, do not use a water extinguisher on a grease or electrical fire). Select an extinguisher that has been tested by an independent laboratory and labeled for the type and size of fire to be extinguished. The different classes of fires are:

  • Class A - Fires that have wood, cloth, and paper burning
  • Class B - Fires that have flammable liquids burning (gasoline, oil)
  • Class C - Fires that are electrically energized (circuit breakers, appliances)

There are also multipurpose fire extinguishers that are labeled ABC that can be used on all of the above types of fires. View additional information about extinguisher sizes, installation, and maintenance.

How to Use an Extinguisher

Remember to PASS:

  1. Pull the pin that unlocks the operating lever.
  2. Aim low by pointing the nozzle at the bottom of the fire.
  3. Squeeze the lever above the handle discharging the extinguishing agent.
  4. Sweep from side to side carefully moving toward the fire. Keep sweeping at the base of the fire until the fire appears to be out. If it reignites, repeat the process.

Extinguisher Sizes

Portable fire extinguishers are rated for the size of fire they can put out. For example, an extinguisher might be rated 2A or 10BC. The larger the number, the larger the fire the extinguisher can put out. Keep in mind that higher-rated models can be heavier. Make sure you can hold the extinguisher before you purchase it.

Installation & Maintenance

Fire extinguishers should be installed in plain view, out of the reach of children, and away from stoves and heating appliances. Follow your operator's manual on how to inspect and maintain your extinguisher.

Rechargeable models must be serviced after every use. (Look under "Fire Extinguishers" in your phone book for service providers.)