Using a portable fire extinguisher to help control small fires is a valuable component of fire safety. Learn these fire extinguisher safety tips to become comfortable and prepared to use one to help stop small fires from spreading or contain it until firefighters have arrived on the scene.
What Type of Fire Extinguisher to Use?
There are four types of fire extinguishers available. Each extinguisher will have a label on it showing what class of fire they are able to extinguish. According to Fire Prevention Canada, these are the four types:
- Fires involving ordinary combustibles such as paper, wood, drapes and upholstery.
- Fires involving flammable and combustible liquids such as fuel oil, gasoline, paint, grease in a frying pan, solvents and other flammable liquids.
- Fires involving electrical equipment such as wiring, overheated fuse boxes, conductors and other electrical sources.
- Fires involving metals such as magnesium and sodium.
A Class ABC extinguisher made up of monoammonium phosphate, can also be used to put out most fires. If you plan to have more than one fire extinguisher in the house, Fire Prevention Canada recommends having a BC extinguisher for the kitchen, an A extinguisher for the living room and an ABC extinguisher for the basement and garage.
It’s important to remember that using the wrong type of fire extinguisher could be harmful and make the condition of the fire worst. Be aware of which fire extinguishers you have in your home or office. Make sure the fire extinguisher has a label from a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
Where Should you Put a Fire Extinguisher?
At your home, a fire extinguisher can be placed in the kitchen, basement stairwell, patio, living room and garage. Ideally, it should be placed in area where children won’t be able to reach and near an exit route if possible.
At the workplace, the location of where the fire extinguishers are should be made clear to employees. They can possibly be found in hallways, meeting rooms, the kitchen and near any exit doors.
A portable fire extinguisher needs to be readily accessible for use if a fire does happen. You can refer to your operator’s manual on how to inspect the extinguisher. Replace any disposable fire extinguishers or recharge them after each use.
When to Use a Fire Extinguisher?
A fire extinguisher is used to fight small fires only. It should be used after everyone has been evacuated and emergency services has been called. To operate a portable fire extinguisher, you can use the PASS method. The Canada Safety Council describes PASS as:
Pull the pin. Some extinguishers may require the releasing of a lock latch, pressing a puncture lever, inversion or other motion.
Aim the extinguisher nozzle (horn) at the base of the fire.
Squeeze or press the handle.
Sweep from side-to-side at the base of the fire and discharge the content of the extinguisher.
Most home insurance policies can cover damages to your home in the event of a fire. Contact a claims advisor to begin the claims process.