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How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

A fire extinguisher can definitely be a life-saving tool in certain situations, but did you know there are different types of fire extinguishers for different types of fires? Planning ahead and stocking a fire extinguisher in an area of your home where it is most likely to be used is a great idea, all it takes is a little education and planning ahead and you should be ready if anything is to happen in the future.

There are five types of fire extinguishers.

Class A

This extinguisher puts out fires with ordinary combustible materials like cloth, rubber, paper, wood and many plastics. This would be a great type of extinguisher to have in many rooms of your home, as it can help put out many different types of fires.

Class B

This extinguisher should be used on fires involving flammable liquids. Grease, gasoline and oil-based paints are all flammable liquids that this extinguisher would work on. This type of extinguisher would work well in a garage, kitchen or art studio.

Class C

This extinguisher is good for fires involving appliances, tools or other electronic equipment that would be energized or plugged in to an outlet. This type of extinguisher would be good in a garage, workroom, kitchen or anywhere electronics are being heavily used.

Class D

This extinguisher is designed to use on specific flammable metals, typically in factories that work with metals. This is not typically a residential type of extinguisher, they are more likely to be found in the factories where these specific metals are utilized.

Class K

This extinguisher is used on fires that involve animal oils, vegetable oils or fats in cooking appliances. Typically stocked in commercial-grade kitchens such as restaurants, caterers and cafeterias, these extinguishers have been finding their way into residential kitchens recently.


There are also multi-purpose fire extinguishers on the market that have labels with more than one of the classes listed above that will work for multiple situations and fires.

When faced with a situation where you may have to use a fire extinguisher, there are a few things to think about before actually using the extinguisher. Portable fire extinguishers designed for use at home are great for containing small fires immediately. However, you must remember these extinguishers are small and cannot fight large fires alone. If you think a fire is too large for your extinguisher, or if the fire may spread quickly make sure you call 911 before you try to extinguish the fire by yourself.


If you keep fire extinguishers in your home, you will need to make sure they are properly maintained so they will work correctly when called upon for usage. Some things to keep in mind include keeping the extinguisher in an area where it will most likely be needed if anything were to happen. Make sure the extinguisher is not blocked by other items that would limit access during an emergency.

Keep the pressure on your extinguisher at the recommended level. Check the gauge indicating where the pressure is. Make sure all parts of the extinguisher are operable and not damaged or restricted. Check extinguishers once a month and shake them to keep the chemicals from settling.


When it comes time to actually use the extinguisher, there is a fairly easy acronym to help remember how to use it correctly: PASS. Here’s how it breaks down:

P: Pull the pin on the top of the fire extinguisher. This pin releases a lock which allows you to discharge the extinguisher.

A: Aim at the base of the fire instead of the flames, or top of the fire. In order to extinguish a fire you must extinguish the source, or the fuel at the bottom of the fire.

S: Squeeze the lever slowly. This releases the extinguishing agent in a steady stream until the lever is released and the discharge will stop.

S: Sweep from side to side, move the fire extinguisher in a back and forth sweeping motion until the fire is completely extinguished. Make sure you are several feet away from the actual fire, and you can begin moving towards it once the fire begins to lessen.

Should you ever have to use a fire extinguisher, hopefully you’ll find it easy-to-use and effective against whatever foe you are up against.

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