Fire Extinguishers

  1. Pull
    Pull the pin. Some units require the releasing of a lock latch, pressing a puncture lever, or other motion.

  2. Aim
    Aim the extinguisher nozzle (horn, or hose).

  3. Squeeze
    Squeeze or press the handle.

  4. Sweep 
    Sweep from side to side at the base of the fire until it goes out.  Shut off the extinguisher.  Watch for reflas and reactivate the extinguisher if necessary.
    Foam and water extinguishers require slightly different action.  Read the instructions.


 This is how most Fire Extinguishers Work
  • Although the majority of extinguishers work with our directions, there are exceptions.  Read the instructions on your extinguisher for variations.  Fix a picture in your mind that will fit the instructions on the extinguisher you will be using.

  • If there's a fire, get everyone outside. Call the Fire Department.  Then fight a small fire only.  If the fire gets large, get out.  Close doors to slow the fire spread.  Stay  between the fire and an exit.  Don't let fire block your escape path in case it goes out of control.

  • Make sure you don't use one type extinguisher on another type fire- It may make the fire worse. Common errors (they can be fatal) are using water (A) on a grease or on an electrical fire (B or C).

This is your New ABCD's of Portable Fire Extinguishers

A fire extinguisher is a storage container for an extinguishing agent such as water or chemicals.  It is designed to put out a small fire, not a big one.

An extinguisher is labeled according to whether the fire on which it is to be used occurs in wood or cloth, flammable liquids, electrical, or metal sources.  Using one type fire can make the fire much worse.   So learn how extinguishers are labeled and used.

Traditionally the labels A, B, C, or D have been used to indicate the type of fire on which an extinguisher is to be used.

Recently pictograms have come into use.   These picture in blue type of fire on which an extinguisher is to be used. Shown in black with a red slash are pictures of fires on which the extinguisher is not to be used.

NFPA 10, Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers, recommends that extinguishers be labeled with pictograms.  However the user may find the traditional A, B, C, D labels on an extinguisher.

~  Fire Classes  ~

Ordinary Combustibles

Fires in ordinary combustible materials - paper, wood, fabrics, rubber, plastics require a water type extinguisher labeled A

Flammable Liquids

Fires in flammable liquids - gasoline, oils, tar, paint, grease in a frying pan or in the oven and other flammable liquids require an extinguisher labeled B.

Electrical Equipment

Fires in live electrical equipment, wiring, fuse boxes, energized electrical equipment and other electrical sources require an extinguisher labeled C.

Combustible metals such as magnesium and sodium require special extinguishers labeled D.

You need an extinguisher at home!

If you plan to buy one extinguisher, a multi-purpose dry chemical labeled ABC puts out most types of fires - wood, paper, and cloth, flammable liquid, or electrical fires. If you buy more than one, you might want to get a BC for the kitchen, an A for the living room, and an ABC for the basement and garage. 

Fire extinguishers where you work.  It is management's job to have extinguishers available for use and your job to know how they work.

Buying and maintaining an extinguisher.

  1. Extinguishers come in dry chemical, foam, carbon dioxide, water, or halon types.  Whatever type you buy, it should be labeled by a testing laboratory.

  2. 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.

  3. Ask your dealer how to have your extinguisher serviced and inspected.  Recharge it after ANY use.  A partially used one might as well be empty.

  4. Extinguishers should be installed away from potential fire hazards and near an escape route.

  5. For more details, see Standard for Portable fire Extinguishers, NFPA 10.