Hale Fire Protection District

Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are crucial tools for preventing fires from spreading and saving lives. They come in different sizes and types.

Fire is a destructive force that can cause harm to people, damage property and lead to loss of life. Fire extinguishers are crucial tools for preventing fires from spreading and saving lives. They come in different sizes and types, but the most common ones are those that use water or foam, dry chemical, or carbon dioxide. It is important to have fire extinguishers placed in strategic locations, within easy reach, in homes and workplaces. However, knowing how to use them is more important than just having them around. The acronym PASS (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep) is an easy way to remember the steps to use a fire extinguisher effectively. With proper training and practice, anyone can learn how to use a fire extinguisher in case of an emergency and be a hero in preventing a disaster.

Fire Extinguishers


What Do the Letters Mean?

fire extinguisher chart

There are also multipurpose fire extinguishers that might be labeled “B-C” or “A-B-C” that can be used on most types of home fires. Most home improvement stores carry multipurpose fire extinguishers that cover Class A through Class C.

Understanding Your Fire Extinguisher

  • Always look for the “UL Listed” or “ULC Listed” label on a fire extinguisher to ensure it is certified for use by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
  • Fire extinguishers vary in size and weight, but it is recommended to select the largest fire extinguisher that a user can safely and comfortably operate.
  • How to read the classification label: The number before the “A” represents a multiple of 1.25 gallons of water whereas the number before the “B” represents a multiple of the area or size in square feet of fire to be extinguished. For example, a fire extinguisher classification of 1A:10B:C indicates that it provides the equivalent of 1.25 gallons of water applied on a Class A fire. The number 10 indicates it can extinguish Class B fires up to 10 square feet in size, and the C indicates that it can be used for Class C fires.

Decide when to use a fire extinguisher

    • Have I alerted others in the building that there is a fire?

    • Has someone called the fire department?

    • Am I physically able to use a fire extinguisher?

      Young children and older adults should not use fire extinguishers.

    • Is the fire small and contained in a single object or to a surface (like a pan or a wastebasket)?

    • Am I safe from the fire’s toxic smoke?

    • Do I have a clear escape route?

Use a fire extinguisher when all of these questions are answered “yes.” If you’re unsure about whether it is safe to use a fire extinguisher, and for all other situations, alert others, leave the building, and call 911 from a mobile or neighbor’s phone.


Fire Extinguisher Maintenance

    • Easy access in an emergency
      • Be sure nothing is blocking or limiting your ability to reach it.
    • The recommended pressure level
      • Many extinguishers have gauges that show when pressure is too high or too low.
    • Working parts
      • Make sure the can, hoses and nozzles are not damaged, dented or rusted.
    • Cleanliness
      • Remove any dust, oil or grease that might be on the outside of the extinguisher.
    • Guidelines and instructions
      • Some extinguishers need to be shaken monthly; others need to be pressure tested every few years. You can recharge some fire extinguishers while others will need to be replaced if the pressure is too low.

For printable handouts to share with family and friends, 

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