Choosing your Extinguisher
Fire Extinguishers are tested by independent laboratories and labeled for the type and size of fire they can extinguish. Use these labels as a guide to purchase the kind of extinguisher that suits your needs. The recommended extinguisher for home use is the multipurpose type.
Classes of Fires
Class A: Ordinary combustibles such as wood, cloth, and paper
Class B: Flammable liquids, such as gasoline, oil, and oil-based paint
Class C: Energized electrical equipment, including wiring, fuse boxes, circuit breakers, and appliances.
The extinguisher must be appropriate for the type of fire being fought. If you use the wrong extinguisher, you can endanger yourself and make the fire worse. Multipurpose fire extinguishers marked ABC may be used on all three classes of fires.
Portable extinguishers are also rated for the size of fire they can handle. This rating will appear on the label. For example: 2A:10B:C. The larger the numbers, the larger the fire that the extinguisher can put out, but higher-rated models are often heavier. Make sure you can hold and operate an extinguisher before you buy it.
Installation and Maintenance
Extinguishers should be installed in plain view, above the reach of children, near an escape route, and away from stoves and heating appliances. Extinguishers require routine care. Read your operator’s manual to learn how to inspect your extinguisher. Follow manufacturer’s instructions on maintenance. Rechargeable models must be serviced after every use. (Service companies are listed in the Yellow Pages under “Fire Protection Equipment”.) Disposable fire extinguishers can only be used once and must be replaced after use.
Operation of a Fire Extinguisher
Should you fight the fire?
Before you begin to fight a fire:
For information about Fire Department education programs, please see Safety Education.
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