Household Fire Extinguishers

A fire extinguisher can be a lifesaver. Placed near an exit, in an easy-to-grab spot, it can put out a small fire before the firefighters arrive, or at least suppress the flames while you escape.


All household extinguishers are classified A, B, or C (or a combination of these) on the label to indicate which types of fires - ordinary combustibles, flammable liquids, or electrical-you can use them on. Many of the ones sold at home stores are classified A: B: C and fight all three types of fires.

The main distinction among home extinguishers is size. In most cases bigger is better, but sometimes the biggest extinguishers are too heavy to maneuver. (The weight on an extinguisher refers to the amount of chemical inside; the canister adds several more pounds.)

Fire Plan

The National Fire Protection Association page recommends an extinguisher for each floor. But no matter how many you have, nothing can substitute for the most important safety tool: a fire plan. Make sure everyone in the family knows how to get out in a hurry, where to meet outside, and how to call 9-1-1. Even if you think you've put out the fire on your own, don't cancel that emergency call. Leave it to the professionals to decide if the fire is really out.

Operating a Fire Extinguisher

It is important to know how to operate a fire extinguisher. You must remember the following, in case of a fire, remember P.A.S.S. - Pull - Aim - Squeeze - Sweep:

  1. Pull - Pull the Pin
  2. Aim - Aim the Extinguisher Nozzle or Hose at the Base of the Fire
  3. Squeeze - Squeeze or Press the Handles
  4. Sweep - Sweep From Side to Side at the Base of the Fire Until it Goes Out

If you have any doubts on when you should use the extinguisher, don't. Leave the house and dial 9-1-1 from a neighbor's house.