Fire Extinguishers

Fighting small fires
Before you fight a fire be sure that:
  • The fire department is being, or has been, called
  • There is no one left in the building
  • You are familiar with the extinguisher's parts and operation
  • You have a safe, unobstructed escape route
  • You have the confidence to fight a fire
  • Your extinguisher matches the type of fire
How to Use a Portable Fire Extinguisher
Remember the Word PASS
  • P - Pull the pin. This unlocks the operating lever and allows you to discharge the extinguisher. 
  • A - Aim the extinguisher nozzle or hose at the base of the flames.
  • S - Squeeze the trigger while holding the extinguisher upright.
  • S - Sweep the extinguisher from side to side, covering the area of the fire with the extinguishing agent. Watch the fire area. If the fire reignites, repeat the process.
Warning - Portable fire extinguishers discharge faster than most people think - many within 15-30 seconds.

Use the Correct Extinguisher
Look for the standard symbols or letter to identify which type of fire your extinguisher can put out.

Classification of Fuels

Fires are classified according to the type of fuel that is burning. If you use the wrong type of fire extinguisher on the wrong class of fire, you can, in fact, make matters worse. It is therefore very important to understand the 4 different classifications.

 Class Symbol
 Definition of Classification
 A black and white illustration of a trash can and wood burning.  Illustration for Classification A - Ordinary Combustibles  Class A - Ordinary Combustibles
Class A fires involve solid combustible materials that are not metals such as wood, paper, textiles and some plastics. (Class A fires generally leave Ash). The background of the symbol will be either metallic or green, if in color.
 A black and white illustration of a gas can being poured on a fire.  Illustration for Classification B - Flamable Liquids  Class B - Flammable or Combustible Liquids and Gasses
Class B fires involve flammable or combustible liquids and gases such as gasoline, diesel fuel, paint, paint thinners, and propane. (Class B fires generally involve materials that Boil or Bubble). The background of the symbol will be either metallic or red, if in color.
 A black and white illustration of an electrical outlet on fire.  Illustration for Classification C - Electrical Equipment  Class C - Energized Electrical Equipment
As long as it's "plugged in" it would be considered a Class C fire. Examples include fires involving fuse boxes, circuit breakers, appliances, and machinery. (Class C fires generally deal with electrical Current). The background of the symbol will be either metallic or blue, if in color.
 A black and white illustration of a metal beam on fire.  Illustration for classification D - Combustible Metals  Class D - Combustible Metals
Unless you work in laboratory or in an industry that uses these materials, it is unlikely you'll have to deal with a class D fire. A Class D fire involves combustible metals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium and titanium. It takes special extinguishing agents (Metal-X, foam) to fight such a fire. The background of the fire will either be metallic or yellow, if in color.