Fire Extinguishers


When making the decision to purchase a fire extinguisher for your home there are a few factors to take into consideration. The first is size. When it comes to fire suppression size does matter. But keep in mind that larger fire extinguishers tend to weigh more due to the increase in fire suppression chemicals. There's also a difference between rechargeable and disposable extinguishers. A disposable extinguisher comes fitted with a plastic valve, whereas A rechargeable one comes with a metal valve. Although a rechargeable extinguisher will cost more, it can be refilled once the pressure gauge shows that use or time has depleted the contents. This is still less expensive than buying a new disposable extinguisher.

All fire extinguishers available at your local retailer will be designated as an A,B, or C extinguisher. This identifies the types of fires the extinguisher is designed for. A is ordinary combustibles like wood, paper, and cloth; B is flammable liquids, such as gasoline or cooking oil; and C is live electricity. You will also notice a number associated with the letter A & B designation. This number is assigned by Underwriters Laboratory (UL), where the higher the numeric value the more effective the extinguisher is against that type of fire (example 4-A, 10-B). The C letter carries no numeric value as it only identifies the extinguishing agent is non-conductive. Some fire extinguishers can also be marked as a combination ABC fire extinguisher, which means they will work on all 3 types of fires.

A 5-pound fire extinguisher is ideal for use in a kitchen or laundry room where quick access and use is important. A 10-pound extinguisher is recommended for a garage or home workshop where a fire might grow in size before being noticed. 

The acronym P.A.S.S. is designed to remind the user how to properly deploy a fire extinguisher:

  • P – pull the safety pin
  • A – aim the extinguishing agent at the base of the fire (not at the flames directly)
  • S – squeeze the trigger to dispense the extinguishing agent
  • S – sweep side-to-side at the source of the flames until the extinguisher is emptied

Once a fire extinguisher has been used, even if it has not been emptied, it is recommended to refill or replace the extinguisher. When purchasing a fire extinguisher or getting a fire extinguisher refilled, always use a reputable established company. 

The National Fire Protection Association ( recommends a fire extinguisher for each floor of the home. But no matter how many extinguishers you may have in your home, nothing can substitute for the most important safety tool: a fire escape plan. For more information on E.D.I.T.H. (Exit Drills In The Home) please visit