Extinguishers Have Limits
Used properly, a portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives. Portable fire extinguishers for home use are not designed to fight large or spreading fires. Even against small fires, they are useful only under certain conditions:
- The operator must know how to use the fire extinguisher
- The fire extinguisher must be the right type, within easy reach, and in working order, fully charged.
- The operator must have a clear escape route that will not be blocked by fire.
- The fire extinguisher must be large enough to put out the fire. Most portable fire extinguishers discharge completely in as few as 8 to 10 seconds.
- Never allow children to use fire extinguishers.
Selecting Your Home Extinguisher
There are three basic classes of fires. All fire extinguishers are labeled using standard symbols. The symbols stand for the classes of fire they can put out. A slash through any of the symbols tells you the extinguisher cannot be used on that class of fire. A missing symbol means the extinguisher has not been tested for a given class of fire.
Ordinary combustibles such as wood, cloth, and paper.
Flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil and oil-based paint.
Energized electrical equipment including wiring, fuse boxes, circuit breakers, machinery, and also appliances.
Your fire extinguisher must be the appropriate class for the type of fire being fought. Multipurpose fire extinguishers, labeled ABC, may be used in all three classes of fire. If you use the wrong type of fire extinguisher, you can endanger yourself and ultimately, make the fire worse.
A fire extinguisher used too close to a cooking grease fire could spread the grease fire outside of the frying area, rather than putting it out.
Your portable fire extinguisher is rated for the size of fire it can handle. This rating will appear on the label. For example, a rating can look like: 2A:10B:C. So, the larger the numbers, the larger the fire that the extinguisher can put out. However, higher-rated models are often heavier. Make sure you can hold and operate your fire extinguisher before you buy it.
Installation and Maintenance
Install extinguishers (a home extinguisher, portable extinguisher, etc.) in plain view, above the reach of children, near an escape route. Also, away from stoves and heating appliances.
Home extinguishers also require routine care. First, read your operator’s manual to learn how to inspect your fire extinguisher. Then, follow manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance.
Service rechargeable models of fire extinguishers after every use. Use disposable fire extinguishers only once and replace after use.
Remember the PASS – word
Keep your back to an unobstructed exit and stand six to eight feet away from the fire. Then, follow the four-step Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep (PASS) procedure for your home extinguisher.
PULL the pin
This unlocks the operating lever and also allows you to discharge the extinguisher. However, some home extinguishers may have other lever-release mechanisms.
Point the fire extinguisher nozzle (or hose) at the base of the fire.
Squeeze the lever above the handle: This discharges the fire extinguisher agent. Releasing the lever will stop the discharge (Some extinguishers may have a button instead of a lever).
Sweep from side to side: Moving carefully toward the fire, keep the fire extinguisher aimed at the base of the fire and sweep back and forth until the flames appear to be out. Watch the fire area. If the fire re-ignites, repeat the process.
Always be sure the fire department inspects the fire site, even if you think you have extinguished the fire. Have additional questions? Give us a call to see how we can prepare you best at (888) 455-3473 or see all the ways you can contact us here.