Fire extinguishers are a valuable tool that if used properly can save lives and property. When used correctly, they can put out a small fire or contain it until the fire department arrives. It is recommended that every household have at least one fire extinguisher and that each member of the house be trained to use it.
Classes of Fire
There are 4 basic classes of fire:
Class A: Ordinary combustibles such as wood, cloth and paper.
Class B: Flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil and grease.
Class C: Energized electrical equipment such as appliances, fuse boxes, and wiring.
Class D: Combustible metals such as magnesium.
Types of Fire Extinguishers
There are many different types of portable fire extinguishers, each one containing a different extinguishing agent based on its intended use. Each extinguisher will be labeled according to which classes of fire it is suitable for: Class A, B, C, or D, or a combination of each. In addition, it will also have a number before the class of fire indicating how much fire it should put out. The larger the number, the larger the fire it should extinguish. For example, a common multi-purpose residential fire extinguisher might have a rating of 1A:10B:C. Make sure you have the proper extinguisher for the right type of fire; otherwise, you could make the fire worse and put yourself in danger.
Fire extinguishers should be located where they are highly visible and within easy reach to maximize efficiency in extinguishing a fire while it is still small.
How to Use a Fire Extinguisher
An easy way to remember how to use a fire extinguisher is with the acronym PASS!
Pull - Pull the pin at the top of the extinguisher. This unlocks the extinguisher and allows it to be discharged.
Aim - Aim the extinguisher nozzle at the base of the fire.
Squeeze - Squeeze the lever above the handle. This will discharge the extinguishing agent.
Sweep - Sweep the extinguisher nozzle from side to side while aiming at the base of the fire.
Make sure that:
You know how to properly operate the fire extinguisher
You have the proper extinguisher for the type and size of fire
Everyone has left or is leaving the building
The fire department is being called
You have a clear escape route that won't be compromised