It is always better to fight a fire through prevention and early detection. However, with training and practice adults can use portable fire extinguishers to extinguish small contained fires. (Such as a cooking pan, wastebasket fire or campfire blaze.) This may minimize property damage and prevent needless injury.
Four Types of Fire Extinguishers
Materials such as wood, paper, cloth and rubber which are normally found around the home
Flammable or combustible liquids, grease, oil-based paints, lacquers, some rubbers
Energized electrical equipment and household appliances such as televisions, radios and stoves
Combustible metals such as magnesium, sodium or potassium
When Should An Extinguisher NOT Be Used?
- If you don't know how to use it
- If you are breathing in smoke/gases
- If the fire is larger than you
Note: A portable fire extinguisher is designed for a 'small' contained fire.
When Should An Extinguisher Be Used?
If you discover a fire, you can use a portable fire extinguisher if:
- Everyone has left the fire area and is evacuating the building.
- The fire department has been called.
- The fire is confined to a small area.
- A clear escape route exists between you and the fire.
- There is an appropriate, working fire extinguisher available.
- You have read the extinguisher instructions and received training in its safe operation.
Instructions for Use
- Keep well back of the fire when using the extinguisher.
- Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you.
- Remove the pin or lever release mechanism, unlocking the operating lever.
- Aim the extinguisher nozzle at the base of the fire. Hold the extinguisher vertically.
- Squeeze the handle to fully release the contents of the extinguisher.
- Move the nozzle from side to side in a sweeping motion at the base of the fire. Fight the fire closest to you and continue the sweeping motion until the fire is extinguished.
Other Safety Tips
- Check the pressure gauge on the extinguisher each month to ensure the device is holding its charge
- Refill or replace your fire extinguisher after each use. Rechargeable models should be serviced after every use and disposable extinguishers must be replaced.
Extinguishers must be recharged and serviced by authorized companies.
- Extinguishers should be located in areas that contain potential fire hazards (kitchen, workshop, garage, basement).
- In each area, place the extinguisher near the door so you can reach it easily, extinguish the fire and ensure a safe escape.