Tip Tuesday: Fire Extinguisher 101

Katelyn Smrecansky Security Resources

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It may sound like a simple task but the fact is, not everyone knows how to properly use a fire extinguisher. Typical extinguishers have ten seconds of power, depending on if it’s been partially used before. When you buy one, be sure to familiarize yourself with the instructions and proper use. Most fire departments even offer the service of teaching people how to use them! Follow the steps below to effectively put out a fire with your extinguisher and how to handle the situation safely.

1. Call 911 immediately before extinguishing a serious fire by yourself.

2. Understand your exit areas in case you need to retreat quickly and the fire is getting out of hand. Always remember that your life is more valuable than property!

3. Only use a fire extinguisher on a contained fire as they have limited amount of extinguishing power.

4. In the United States there are five classes of fire extinguishers. It’s good to know which kind you have.
a. Class A: This is suitable for cloth, wood, rubber, paper, various plastics, and regular combustible fires. It is usually filled with 2 1/2 gallons of pressurized water.
b. Class B: This is suitable for grease, gasoline or oil-based fires is usually filled with a dry chemical. Extinguishers smaller than 6lbs are not recommended.
c. Class C: This is suitable for electrical fires caused by appliances, tools, and other plugged in gear.
d. Class D: This is used for water-reactive metals such as burning magnesium and will be located in factories using such metals. It comes in the form of a powder that must cover the material to extinguish it.
e. Class K: This contains a special purpose wet chemical agent for use in kitchen fires and deep fryers to stop fires started by vegetable oils, animal fats, or other fats started in cooking appliances.

5. Always remember to P.A.S.S
a. Pull the safety pin from the handle which is located at the top of the fire extinguisher. Once removed, it releases the locking mechanism, allowing you to discharge the extinguisher.
b. Aim the extinguisher nozzle or hose at the base of the fire. This removes the source of the fire.
c. Squeeze the handle or lever slowly to discharge the agent. Letting go of the handle will stop the discharge, so keep it held down.
d. Sweep side to side approximately 6in over the fire until expended. The sweeping motion helps to extinguish the fire. Stand several feet back from the fire. Extinguishers are meant to be used from a distance.

6. Do not leave the area even if the fire has been extinguished in case it reignites.

7. Then be sure to purchase a new extinguisher!
a. Keep it in an easily accessible place but high enough to keep away from children
b. It’s a good idea to keep one in the kitchen
c. Other good places include your garage, car or boat
d. Then ensure your family, roommates, etc. know where they are located

8. Contact Sonitrol Pacific at 800-898-1899 to learn more about our fire monitoring services.