Portable Fire Extinguishers
A Message from N.F.P.A.

When used properly, portable fire extinguishers 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, however, are not designed to fight large or spreading fires. Even for small fires they are useful only under certain conditions:

What Type of Extinguisher Should I Use?

There are three basic classes of fires, and all extinguishers are labeled as to what type of fire they can put out. They will have standard symbols on them and if there is a red slash through a symbol that tells you it cannot be used on that kind of fire.

The three classes are:

The fire extinguisher must be appropriate for the type of fire being fought. If you use the wrong kind of fire extinguisher, you can make the fire worse and endanger yourself (for example, if you use a water extinguisher on an electrical fire, you'll find that to be quite a shocking experience ... using a pressurized extinguishing agent on a grease fire will spread the fire rather than extinguishing it). Multipurpose fire extinguishers can be used on all three classes of fires.

What Size Extinguisher Should I Buy?

Portable fire extinguishers are also rated for the size of fire they can handle. This rating will appear on the label - for example, 2A:10B:C. The larger the numbers, the larger the fire that the extinguisher can put out ... but the higher-rated models are often much heavier. Make sure you can hold and operate an extinguisher before you buy it.

What You Need to Know About Installing and Maintaining Extinguishers ...

Fire extinguishers should be installed in plain view, above the reach of children, near an escape route and away from stoves and heating appliances.

Fire extinguishers require some routine care. Make sure you read your operator's manual to learn how to inspect your fire extinguisher. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on maintaining the extinguisher.

Rechargeable models must be serviced after every use (look in the Yellow Pages of your telephone directory under "Fire Extinguishers" for local companies that service them). The disposable fire extinguishers can be used only one time and must be replaced after use.

How to Use Your Fire Extinguisher ...

Always remember to keep your back to an unobstructed exit and stand six to eight feet away from the fire. Remember to PASS:

ALWAYS make sure the fire department is called and inspects the fire site, even if you think you have extinguished the fire!

Should You Try to Fight the Fire?

Before you begin to fight a fire:

It is reckless to fight a fire in any other circumstances. Instead, leave immediately and close off the area.

For more information on the selection and use of portable fire extinguishers, see NFPA publication No. BKLT-2 Portable Fire Extinguishers, or call your local fire department.

"Have You Checked Your Fire Extinguisher Lately?"