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Fire Extinguishers

A portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives. But when it comes to extinguishers, one type does not fit all. There are five primary types of fire extinguishers, each designed to put out different kinds of fires. There are also multi-purpose fire extinguishers that might be labeled “B-C” or “A-B-C”. These are best suited for home use and can be found at most home improvement stores.

A:  For use with materials like cloth, wood, and paper;

B:  For use with combustible and flammable liquids like grease, gasoline, oil and oil-based paints;

C:  For use with electrical equipment like appliances, tools, or other equipment that is plugged in;

D:  For use with flammable metals like aluminum, magnesium, and titanium; and

K For use with vegetable oils, animal oils and fats in cooking appliances.

5 Types of Fire Extinguishers

Before you consider using an extinguisher there are some very important details to remember:

  • The U. S. Fire Administration recommends that only those trained in the proper use and maintenance of fire extinguishers consider using them when appropriate! Contact your local fire department for training in your area;

  • If you do not think you would be able to safely put the fire out in five seconds using an extinguisher, do not attempt to use it! Leave the area and call 911; and

  • When using an extinguisher, follow the PASS method.  Pull the pin, Aim low, Squeeze the handle, and Sweep from side to side.

portable fire extinguisher

To learn more about fire safety and how to properly extinguish fires, check out FEMA’s preparedness activity module, Putting Out Fires.

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