Using a Fire Extinguisher

Here are some helpful tips and suggestions about fires and the use of fire extinguishers. Need more? Talk to your local fire and police officials about safety training programs in your area. Remember - be safe and be smart.

Fire Extinguishers

  1. Most household fire extinguishers should carry an ABC rating. An ABC rating is appropriate for most household fires. Check the label on your fire extinguisher to see which rating it carries.
  2. There are different types of fires:
    • Class A fires involve common combustibles such as wood, paper, cloth, rubber, trash and plastics.
    • Class B fires involve grease, solvents, oil, gasoline, paints, lacquers and other oil-based products. Class B fires often spread rapidly.
    • Class C fires involve are suitable for use on electrically energized fires such as wiring, controls, motors, machinery or appliance fires.
    • Class D fires involve combustible metals.
  3. Watch this brief video to learn a bit more about the classification of fire extinguishers from Edina, MN Fire Marshall Tom Jenson:

Where to Store Your Extinguisher

  1. Install fire extinguishers carrying an ABC rating on every level of the home and include the kitchen, basement and garage.
  2. Place the fire extinguisher by an exit so that you can leave if you notice the fire becoming too large for you to extinguish yourself.
  3. Do NOT keep your extinguisher near the stove. If a fire breaks out at the stove, you want to be able to grab your extinguisher from elsewhere.
  4. Make sure to tell all family members where the extinguishers are located.

How to Use an Extinguisher

  1. Train all family members - including responsible children - when and how to use fire extinguishers.
  2. Use a fire extinguisher only if:
    • The fire is small.
    • You know how to use a fire extinguisher.
    • The correct extinguisher is immediately at hand.
    • You have a clear exit path behind you.
  3. In the following video, Edina, MN Fire Marshall Tom Jenson explains how to work a fire extinguisher using the acronym, "P.A.S.S."

    P......Pull the Pin at the top of the extinguisher.
    A......Aim the extinguisher nozzle at the base of the flames.
    S......Squeeze trigger while holding the extinguisher upright. If you release the handle, the discharge will stop.
    S......Sweep the extinguisher from side to side, covering the area of the fire with the extinguishing agent. After the fire appears to be out, watch it carefully since it may re-ignite!
  4. Inspect your extinguisher each month. Make sure it's in the proper location (see above) and check the charge level. The dial should be at 100 percent or “full.” If it is below those levels, have the extinguisher recharged by a professional (usually listed in the Yellow Pages or ask your fire department). Replace your extinguisher if it cannot be recharged.

    WHN TIP: Replace/Recharge!

    You should replace or recharge your extinguisher once it has been used, even if only a little material was released.

    WHN TIP: Toxic?

    Dry chemical extinguishers are usually filled with mono-ammonium phosphate, which is a nontoxic substance. However, large amounts of this powder in the air can cause breathing difficulties. Leave the room after an extinguisher is used.

  5. If you'd like to dispose of your fire extinguisher, contact your local fire or sanitation departments. Your area may have local laws on correct and legal disposal.

Reviewed: 5/2009