PASS Fire Extinguisher Sign

Why do we need portable fire extinguishers?

Fire extinguishers are a great first line of defense against small fires at home or work IF:
  1. The fire is fairly small in size and not already beyond your ability to easily control and;
  2. There's NO WAY the fire can get between you and your exit thereby blocking your escape.

Where can we buy extinguishers and what should we look for?

Fire extinguishers may be purchased at a variety of stores today, including discount, hardware, home improvement, auto parts stores, and others. They may also be purchased at locations specializing in fire protection equipment.

Look for fire extinguisher classifications including the letters "A-B-C", which means that they are multipurpose fire extinguishers that can be used on any of the three types of fires that could normally be expected in residences, businesses, or vehicles. A minimum rating would be 1A, 10 B:C and a 2A, 10 B:C is even better!

Experts recommend the 5 lb. size; however, 2 1/2 lb. sizes are also available. Look for the U.L. listing, as well.

What do fire extinguisher classifications mean?

The letters, A-B-C, refer to the three types of fires:
  • "Type A:" Ordinary Combustibles
    Examples: wood, paper, fabrics, plastics, cardboard, rubber, dry vegetation, etc.
  • "Type B:" Flammable Liquids
    Examples: gasoline, kerosene, grease, fat, cooking oils, cleaning solvents, paints, thinners, lacquers, lighter fluids, etc.
  • "Type C:" Electrical
    Examples: any appliance still connected to an electrical power source.

Where should we place fire extinguishers?

Ideal fire extinguisher locations would be your kitchen, garage, and in your vehicle.

Fire extinguishers should always be within easy reach and never stored away in cupboards or otherwise out of sight.

What guidelines apply for operating fire extinguishers?

Carry the extinguisher by the body or base. Stand about 8 ft. away from the fire; remove the pin at the top; aim the nozzle at the outer base of the fire; squeeze the trigger and spray with a wide sweeping pattern moving towards the fire.

Never return a used fire extinguisher to its holder. It must be serviced. Always call the Fire Dept. in case of any fire!

What's the difference between 1A, 10 B:C and others 2A, 10 B:C. and why should it be important?

All fire extinguishers that have the letters "A-B-C" - in their classifications are considered to be "multipurpose" fire extinguishers and may be used effectively on ordinary combustibles, flammable liquids, and electrical fires. The difference between 1A and 2A refers to extinguishing capabilities for fires involving ordinary combustibles (Type A fires). The 2A extinguisher has twice as much firestopping power for Type A fires as the 1A does.

The higher the number in the rating, the greater the firestopping power for that type of fire. As a rule of thumb, however, as the rating number gets higher, the extinguisher gets larger and, unfortunately, so does the price. If you're looking for an economical multipurpose fire extinguisher for your home or automobile, a 1A, 10 B:C extinguisher may well meet your needs.

However, if you have a business, own or manage apartments, or are licensed for home daycare or eldercare, the minimum fire extingisher classification required will be 2A, 10 B:C, thereby making a 1A, 10 B:C extinguisher unacceptable.

What are "the rules" for when to use portable fire extinguishers?

When you see a small fire, the first things you should do are:

  1. Sound the alarm to get everyone out of the building and;
  2. Either make, or have someone else make, the 9-1-1 call to report the fire.
  3. Then, if you determine that the fire is still small enough in size and there's no way it can get between you and your exit, you may attempt to extinguish the fire using a portable fire extinguisher.
  4. Once the fire is out, take a nonconductive pole and scatter the fire debris, making sure that it is thoroughly saturated with the fire extinguisher chemicals.
  5. If the fire department hasn't arrived, it's okay to call them back and let them know that the fire is out. They'll cancel fire units not needed and assign the first-in unit to continue to your location to check for possible extension of the fire into the attic and other unseen areas of the building.

Remember, the fire department should always be called in the event of ANY fire. Even if you think you may have fully extinguished the fire, firefighters are the professionals when it comes to extinguishment and have both the equipment and knowledge necessary to ensure that this is indeed the case.

When operating portable fire extinguishers, remember the "P.A.S.S." word!

PULL the pin at the top.
AIM low at the base of the fire.
SQUEEZE the trigger.
SWEEP the nozzle from side to side moving toward the fire.