Home Fire Extinguishers

Using a home fire extinguisher takes knowledge and practice. Before you buy, be certain you know your needs. Are you looking for one for your kitchen? Perhaps you'd like to keep one in your garage. Either way, there are several types of extinguishers, and you should buy a type best for you.

An extinguisher is classified according to the type of burning material it will extinguish. Using the class of extinguisher that is not designed for the material that is burning can actually spread a fire, or worse, cause you to get hurt.
A green triangle with an A inside of it

Classes of Fire Extinguishers

Ordinary Materials

Ordinary material include wood and paper. The number on the label reflects the amount of fire the extinguisher can douse. 10A will extinguish 10 times as much as 1A.
A red square with a B in it

Flammable Liquids

Flammable liquids include grease and gasoline.
A blue circle with a C inside of it

Live Electrical Equipment

The agent will not conduct electricity.
A yellow star with a letter D inside of it

Combustible Metals

This type of material is not generally found in the home.

Multipurpose Extinguishers

A multipurpose extinguisher, ABC or BC, is designed to put out different types of fire. Most homes are best protected with this type.

Using Your Extinguisher

If you have a fire, before attempting to use a fire extinguisher, make sure you call 9-1-1.

Remember How to Operate Your Extinguisher

An easy way to remember how to operate your extinguisher is to think PASS:
  • Pull the pin. You will find the pin near the handle or button. The pin keeps the extinguisher from operating by accident.
  • Aim low, near the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the lever that is above the handle to release the extinguishing agent. Note that some extinguishers have a button rather than a lever.
  • Sweep from side to side, still aiming at the base of the fire.

When to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Only attempt to use an extinguisher if:
  • You have called 9-1-1 to report your fire.
  • You know what is burning and you have the correct extinguisher.
  • You know how to use the extinguisher.
  • You know that the fire is small and contained. If not, leave the area and direct others to do the same.
  • You know where the nearest exit is. Remember to keep the door to your back. Don't let the fire get between you and your exit.


Get out if:
  • If you feel panic or confused.
  • The fire spreads from its original area.
  • Smoke fills the room.
  • The extinguisher stops working and the fire is still burning.

A Fire Extinguisher