Fire extinguishers can be a homeowner or business owner’s first line of defense in the event that a fire should break out. However, owning a fire extinguisher is not enough – you must also know how to use them and what type is right for your particular home or business. We discuss this very topic in today’s fire safety blog!
Fire Extinguisher FAQ
Picture this scenario: you are at home or in the office and you suddenly smell the unmistakable odor of smoke. You quickly realize something is on fire, so being the smart person you are, you run and grab your fire extinguisher, locate the fire, and aim the fire extinguisher at the flames. Then it dawns on you – how exactly, does this thing work anyway?
Reducing fire damage and making sure your family stays safe in the event of a disaster requires a mix of planning, preparedness, and remaining calm in any given situation. One way you can achieve this is by learning how, when, and why to use your fire extinguisher – not to mention what type you actually need.
When to Use a Fire Extinguisher
Whether you are at home or at your business, if a fire breaks out, you may only have moments to decide between fight or flight. If you think you can safely put out the fire, grab your fire extinguisher and get to work. If there is even the slightest chance you cannot, get your family or co-workers to safety and dial 911 immediately.
If you do not know how to use your fire extinguisher before the fire breaks out, call in the professionals. Mid-fire is not the time to learn. In addition, never try to fight a fire unless there is a clear path or route of escape. If there is a clear exit, but it won’t remain so for very long, do not risk it – leave the premises.
Finally, if you are unsure if your fire extinguisher class (more below) is appropriate for the type of fire you are fighting, call 911 instead – using the wrong extinguisher can only exacerbate the problem.
Types of Fire Extinguishers
There are five types of fire extinguishers that homeowners or business owners can use to fight fires and reduce the risk of fire damage on their property. The types and what sort of fire they are good for are listed below:
- Class A: Normal combustibles and flammables, including cloth, paper, and wood.
- Class B: Flammable liquids, such as gas, oil, paint, paint thinner, and solvents.
- Class C: This type of fire involves electrical equipment and appliances that are plugged in or receiving electricity. Fires caused by electric drills, table saws, computer equipment, televisions, engines, wiring, and fuse boxes all qualify for this class.
- Class D: Fires involving combustible metals such as magnesium, sodium, zirconium and so forth). If this type of fire breaks out, do not attempt to fight it unless you have been specifically trained to handle this class.
- Class K: Restaurants are prone to this type of fire, as it involves cooking oil and commercial grade cooking equipment.
In addition to the types above, some fires can, of course, be classified as multiple types. All fire extinguishers are labeled for the type of fire they are capable of fighting, as well as which ones you should never use them on. For example, you would never use a Class A fire extinguisher on a Class B or Class C fire – the results could be deadly!
Fire Extinguisher How-To
Follow the below advice when using a fire extinguisher.
- Stand six to eight feet away from any flames.
- Ensure that you have a clear exit from the area in the event the fire spreads or becomes out of control.
- Pull the pin to unlock the operating lever.
- Aim the fire extinguisher hose at the base of the fire.
- Apply pressure to the lever located above the handle to release the agent.
- In a sweeping motion, saturate the base of the fire back and forth until it is extinguished.
- Continue this process if the fire re-ignites.
- If the fire does not go out or spreads, retreat to safety.
- Other Fire Extinguisher Tips
The following fire safety tips should be followed to ensure your fire extinguisher is ready to use in the event of a fire.
- Install fire extinguishers in areas where fires are likely to break out, including kitchens and break rooms.
- Make sure all fire extinguishers in the home or at work are fully charged.
- Make sure all family members or employees know the location of any fire extinguishers and fire alarms.
- Train yourself, loved ones, and co-workers on the proper use of fire extinguishers.