Fire Extinguisher Safety

How to choose a fire extinguisher

Below are the minimum business recommendations from the National Fire Protection Association Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers (NFPA 10). Many cities and states require fire extinguishers with a minimum UL rating of 2-A:10-B:C in buildings. Check with your local fire authorities for the building code requirements in your area.

  • Low Hazards (PRO 210): A 2-A: 10-B:C rated rechargeable unit. For offices, churches, assembly halls, classrooms and hotel guest areas. Class A-B-C
  • Medium Hazards (PRO 340): A 3-A:40-B:C rated rechargeable unit. For light manufacturing facilities, dining areas, auto showrooms, parking gargaes and storage areas. Class A-B-C
  • High Hazards (PRO 460): A 4-A:60-B:C rated rechargeable unit. For manufacturing facilities with processes involving flammable liquids, boat and vehicle services, and woodworking processes. Class A-B-C

How to use fire extinguishers

Stand 6 to 8 feet away from the fire and follow the four-step PASS procedure recommended by the National Fire Protection Association:

  • P - Pull the pin and hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you.
  • A - Aim low at the base of the fire.
  • S - Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly to discharge the extinguishing agent. (When the agent first hits the fire, the fire may briefly flare up. This should be expected).
  • S - Sweep the nozzle from side to side, moving carefully toward the fire. Keep the extinguisher aimed at the base of the fire.

When to use fire extinguishers

Remember that fire extinguishers are only one element of a complete fire survival plan. Only use your extinguisher after making sure:

  • All occupants have been evacuated to safety
  • The fire department has been notified
  • There is a clear exit behind the person using the extinguisher

Use your extinguisher only to keep a small self-contained fire from growing, only when the room is not filled with smoke, or to create a safe pathway out of the building. Be sure to read the instructions and become familiar with your fire extinguisher's parts and operation before a fire breaks out.