Fire Extinguisher Purchases & Uses

There are 2 types of fire extinguishers available on the market today. They are either rechargeable or disposable, and come in portable sizes. Portable extinguishers (rechargeable or disposable) for home use are not designed to fight large or spreading fires.
  • Even against small fires, they are useful only under certain conditions.
  • The operator must know how to use the extinguisher. There is no time to read directions during an emergency.
  • The extinguisher must be within easy reach, in working order and fully charged.
  • The operator must have a clear escape route that will not be blocked by fire.
  • The extinguisher must match the type of fire being fought. Extinguishers containing water are unsuitable for use on grease or electrical fires.
  • The extinguisher must be large enough to put out the fire. Many portable extinguishers discharge completely in a few as 8 to 10 seconds.

Choosing Your Extinguisher


Select only fire extinguishers that have been tested by an independent laboratory (e.g. Underwriters Laboratories) and labeled for the type and size of fire they can extinguish. Use these labels as a guide to purchase the type of extinguisher that suits your needs. Multipurpose fire extinguishers, labeled ABC, may be used on all 3 classes of fire. If you use the wrong type of extinguisher, you can endanger yourself and make the fire worse.

Classes of Fires


Class A: Ordinary combustibles such as wood, cloth and paper.
Class B: Flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil and oil-based paints.
Class C: Energized electrical equipment which includes:
  • Appliances
  • Circuit Breakers
  • Fuse Boxes
  • Machinery
  • Wiring

Extinguisher Sizes


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

Installation & Maintenance


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 routine maintenance. Read your operator's manual to learn how to inspect and maintain the extinguisher.

Rechargeable extinguishers must be serviced after every use, while disposable extinguishers can be used only once and must be replaced after use.

Remember the PASS-Word


Pull the pin: This unlocks the lever and allows you to discharge the extinguisher.
Aim low: Point the extinguisher nozzle (or hose) at the base of the fire.
Squeeze the lever above the handle: This discharges the extinguishing agent. Releasing the lever will stop the discharge.
Sweep from side to side: Moving carefully toward the fire, keep the extinguisher aimed at the base of the fire and sweep side to side until the flames are extinguished. Watch the fire area. If the fire reignites, repeat the process.

Even if you think you've extinguished the fire, always be sure to call the fire department to inspect the fire site.

Call 714-288-2541 for a fire extinguisher brochure.