Stay Ready & Safe: How To Use A Fire Extinguisher

Did you know there are many different fire extinguisher types? They are known as fire extinguishers ABCDK. Many people have at least one fire extinguisher type in their home, but most don’t know how to use them properly or how to determine if they are in working order. Let’s discuss the different types, when they should be used, and where they should be stored in your home. 

Types of Fire Extinguishers: ABCDK

There are several types of fire extinguishers in the United States, and they are classified based on the types of fires they can extinguish. 

  • Class A extinguishers can put out wood, cloth and paper fires.
  • Class B extinguishers are for fires involving flammable liquids and gases. 
  • Class C extinguishers are made to put out electrical fires. 
  • Class D extinguishers are for putting out fires involving flammable metals.
  • Class K extinguishers are used in kitchens, because they can put out large oil and grease fires.

The majority of fire extinguishers used in households are types ABC, which are equipped to address a wide range of fires.

How to Use A Fire Extinguisher

Before fighting a fire, be sure your extinguisher can handle it. If the fire is bigger than you are, you probably will not be able to extinguish it. If this is the case, evacuate your home and call 911. Additionally, make sure the fire extinguisher type you are using is appropriate for the type of fire you are trying to put out. ABC fire extinguishers can handle kitchen fires, but they can also damage your stove.  Alternatively, you can also put out a kitchen fire with baking soda or a pot lid if it is small (never use water).

Once you are ready to use your fire extinguisher, use the fire extinguisher PASS method.

Step 1: Pull the pin in the handle
Step 2: Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire
Step 3: Squeeze the trigger
Step 4: Sweep the extinguisher from side to side

It is important that you aim at the base of the fire to smother it at its roots. Once extinguished, be sure to monitor it so that it does not rekindle.

Fire Extinguisher Maintenance and Storage

Most fire extinguishers will work  for 5 to 15 years, and they have indicators that tell you if they have enough pressure. If indicators are in the green zone, you have plenty of pressure. However, if indicators are not in the green zone, you will need to get it recharged by a fire extinguisher service professional

You should recharge an extinguisher after you have used it, even if it is still in the green zone. Once a month, along with verifying pressure, you should make sure that the hose or nozzle are clear and in good condition, the locking pin is secure, and the body of the unit is free of dents and rust. Replace or get your fire extinguisher serviced if there is any damage or low pressure.

Where you store a fire extinguisher is also important. You will want to make sure that it is in a place that is easy to access since seconds matter when there is a fire. Place extinguishers near areas where fires are most likely to start, such as your kitchen. You should also have one for each level of your home. If you store your extinguisher in a closet, make sure it is placed in the front so it is easily accessible, and if the fire extinguisher is in the kitchen keep it a fair distance away from the stove.

  • To learn more about how to use a fire extinguisher, please contact your local fire department or visit 
  • To find and purchase a fire extinguisher near you, check your nearest big box store, such as Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, Ace Hardware, and more. 
  • To take a fire extinguisher class and get an online certification, go to OSHA Fire Safety Training. 
  • To get your fire extinguisher inspected, contact your local fire department who can either perform the service for you or recommend you to another service.

You can learn more fire safety preparedness tips at our ALE Solutions blog.


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