When selecting a fire extinguisher, read the label carefully to find out what kinds of fires it is made to extinguish. “ABC” or multipurpose extinguishers are effective on most small fires in the home. A “water can” extinguisher is good on most dry/solid objects, but should not be used on electrical or grease fires. When operating an extinguisher, remember the acronym PASS, Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep. Pull the tab if there is one, aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire, squeeze the nozzle to activate it, and sweep it back and forth. Always keep your back to an exit so you can quickly escape if the fire cannot be extinguished. Extinguishers are made with the directions printed on a label, some extinguishers may differ slightly so always follow the directions on the extinguisher. If the directions are missing or illegible the PASS system is a good rule of thumb to follow.
Extinguishers are effective only if you know how to use them and only on small contained fires. A fire extinguisher will not extinguish an entire room and its contents. For larger fires or fires that are spreading quickly evacuate the home immediately and call 911 for help from the fire department. If you do have a fire in your home and use an extinguisher to put it out, you should still dial 911 and have a fire chief checkout the fire to make sure it is fully extinguished and that it did not spread to other areas. Nobody wants to think about the possibility of a fire happening in their home, but we all agree it’s much better to be safe than sorry. A small investment of your time and effort now is all it takes to protect your family from the dangers of fire. Keeping a small extinguisher in your vehicle is also highly recommended.
Selecting a Fire Extinguisher
All ratings are shown on the extinguisher faceplate. Some extinguishers are marked with multiple ratings such as AB, BC and ABC. These extinguishers are capable of putting out more than one class of fire. Class A and B extinguishers carry a numerical rating that indicates how large a fire an experienced person can safely put out with that extinguisher. Class C extinguishers have only a letter rating to indicate that the extinguishing agent will not conduct electrical current. Class C extinguishers must also carry a Class A or B rating.
Class A -Extinguish ordinary combustibles by cooling the material below its ignition temperature and soaking the fibers to prevent re-ignition. Use pressurized water, foam or multipurpose(ABC-rated) dry chemical extinguishers. DO NOT USE carbon dioxide or ordinary (BC-rated) dry chemical extinguishers on Class A fires.
Class B – Extinguish flammable liquids, greases or gases by removing the oxygen, preventing the vapors from reaching the ignition source or inhibiting the chemical chain reaction. Foam, carbon dioxide, ordinary (BC-rated) dry chemical, multipurpose dry chemical, and halon extinguishers may be used to fight Class B fires.
Class C – Extinguish energized electrical equipment by using an extinguishing agent that is not capable of conducting electrical currents. Carbon dioxide, ordinary (BC-rated) dry chemical, multipurpose dry chemical and halon* fire extinguishers may be used to fight Class C fires.