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Fire Extinguisher

Home Safety: Fire

Fire Extinguishers

What to buy

Know your ABCs to make sure you choose the right kind of fire extinguisher.

  • Type A is for fighting fires involving paper, wood, fabric, or plastic.
  • Type B is for fires involving grease and flammable liquids such as gas.
  • Type C is for fires involving live electronics.
  • Combination extinguishers make sense for most homes. Choose a B:C model for the kitchen and garage and an A:B:C model for use throughout the house.

How and when to use

  • Only fight a small, contained fire and only if everybody else is out of the house, the fire department has been called, the fire is not spreading, and you have a clear path to a door behind you.
  • Remember the acronym PASS, which stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep. You Pull the pin, Aim low at the base of the fire, Squeeze the trigger, and Sweep from side to side.
  • Know that most home fire extinguishers empty quickly—the small ones in as little as 10 seconds.
  • If the fire starts to grow, get out immediately. Never think you can fight a spreading fire yourself.
  • Non-refillable extinguishers are good for one use only, replace them after you use them. Remember to have a rechargeable unit refilled right away after you use it.

Testing an extinguisher

  • Do not test a home extinguisher unless the manufacturer's instructions say otherwise. Squeezing the trigger for even a second releases some of the pressure.
  • If you have never used a fire extinguisher, call your local fire department and ask them if they have a fire safety program you can take. If not, consider buying a fire extinguisher and using it just so you can see how it handles and how long it lasts.
  • Refillable extinguishers have pressure gauges to tell you the pressure level. Some one-use models come with a pressure-check button.


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