A fire extinguisher is a storage container for a fire-extinguishing agent such as water or chemicals. Fire extinguishers are labeled according to the type of fire they are intended for. Using the wrong type of extinguisher on a fire can make the situation worse.
Traditionally, fire extinguishers have only been labeled A, B, C or D to indicate the type of fire they are to be used on.Recently, pictograms or pictures have come into use. A blue pictogram or picture on the extinguisher indicates the type of fire it should be used on, and a black picture with a slash through it indicates the type of fire it should not be used on. Fire extinguishers may have the letter indicators, pictograms, or both.
Fire Extinguisher Types
Class A: Ordinary Combustibles
- To be used on fires in paper, cloth, wood, rubber and many plastics. This is a water type extinguisher.
Class B: Flammable Liquids
- To be used on oils, gasoline, some paints, lacquers, grease in a frying pan or oven, solvents and other flammable liquids.
Class C: Electrical Equipment
- To be used on fires in wiring, fuse boxes and other energized electrical equipment.
Class D: Metals
- To be used on combustible metals such as magnesium or sodium.
Learn How To PASS
Pull the pin. Some extinguishers require the releasing of a lock latch, pressing a puncture lever or other similar motion.
Aim the extinguisher nozzle (horn or hose) at the base of the fire.
Squeeze or press the handle.
Sweep from side to side at the base of the fire until it goes out. Shut off the extinguisher. Watch for a reflash and reactivate the extinguisher if necessary. Foam and water extinguishers require a slightly different action. Read the instructions.
Remember - If there is a fire in your home, get everyone outside.
Fight a small fire only. If the fire gets big, get out!
Close doors to slow the fire spread and make sure you stay between the fire and an exit.
Buying and Maintaining a Fire Extinguisher
- If you plan to buy only one type of extinguisher, a multi-purpose dry chemical extinguisher labeled ABC puts out most types of fires.
- The larger the extinguisher, the more fire it puts out. Make sure you can hold and operate the one you purchase.
- Ask your dealer or contact your fire department to determine how to have your extinguisher serviced and inspected. Recharge or replace the extinguisher after any use.
For more information, contact your local fire department.
TIP: Using the wrong type of fire extinguisher can make the fire worse!