Do you have a fire extinguisher in your home? Do you and the members of your household know where the fire extinguisher is stored?  Do you know how to use a fire extinguisher?  These are all questions that we need to be able to answer “yes”, so this week, I want to share with you some information that everyone should know regard fire extinguishers.

Ideally, every home should have a fire extinguisher located in each area of the home where fire damage is more prone to occur (for example:  kitchens, basements, and workshops) so if a fire were to break out and is caught early enough, the amount of fire/smoke damage could be kept to a minimum.  There are numerous types of fire extinguishers on the market.  Before purchasing or replacing an extinguisher, it is important to know about the different classes of fires so you will make sure to have the correct extinguisher on hand.

The 5 types/classes of fires are as follows:

  • Class A—fires in ordinary combustibles (wood, paper, cloth, trash and plastics)
  • Class B—fires in flammable liquids (gasoline, paint, petroleum oil) and flammable gases (propane and butane)
  • Class C—fires involving energized electrical equipment (motors, transformers, appliances)
  • Class D—fires in combustible metals (potassium, sodium, aluminum and magnesium)
  • Class K—fires in cooking oils and greases (animal fats and vegetable fats)

The type of extinguisher to use is based on the type of fire.  For instance, do not use a water extinguisher on a Class B or C fire as the water could spread flammable liquids in Class B fires and could cause a shock hazard on Class C fires.  Each fire extinguisher is labeled on the front with the class or classes of fire(s) that it can be used on.  ABC extinguishers are most common in homes.  Remember, fire extinguishers must be maintained and inspected, so every 30 days you should:

  • Make sure the extinguisher is in the correct location
  • Make sure it is visible and accessible
  • Make sure the gauge/pressure indicator shows the correct pressure

My next blog entry will discuss the proper technique for using a fire extinguisher and the rules for fighting fires in your home.