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Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguisherFighting Small Fires

These devices can put out or contain small fires, but only if you know how to use them. Before even considering using a portable fire extinguisher, make sure you have access to a clear exit. Also ensure that you are using the right extinguisher for the type of fire you are trying to put out. Look for these symbols on the label:

Type A - Ordinary Combustibles

These include common household items such as paper, wood and cloth.

Ordinary Combustable


Type B - Flammable liquids

Gasoline, cooking oils or fats, oil based paint and kerosene are just some of these.

Flamable liquid


Type C - Electrical Equipment

Wall outlets, power cords, small and large appliances, wiring and fuse boxes fall under this category.

Electrical Equipement

**NOTE**Never use a Type A extinguisher on flammable liquids. This is likely to spread the fire and make it worse, or splash burning liquid onto you.

P.A.S.S. - How to Use an Extinguisher

Here's a simple way to remember the steps to take when using a portable fire extinguisher. Start by standing 2 to 3 metres back from the fire and ensure that you have an open exit route behind you never try putting out a fire if you do not have a clear exit. Then remember the word P.A.S.S.

Pull the pin.

The pin is there as a safeguard and locks the handle. Pulling it out enables it for use.

Aim low.

The hose or nozzle should be pointed at the base of the fire to best put it out.

Squeeze the lever above the handle.

This will shoot the extinguishing substance from the hose or nozzle. Keep in mind that most small extinguishers hold only 8 to 10 seconds worth of extinguishing power.

Sweep from side to side.

As you move slowly toward the fire, keep the hose or nozzle aimed at the base of the fire. If the flames appear to be out, release the handle and watch closely. If the fire ignites again, repeat the process.

Other Tips

Before you use an extinguisher to fight small fires, make sure everyone else has left the area and that firefighters have been called using 911.

Call the Emergency Services Department to inspect the fire area, even if you are sure you have extinguished the fire.

Once a month, inspect your extinguisher for damage and make sure it is properly charged (see manufacturer's instructions for details).

If you use an extinguisher, it must be recharged by a professional. If it is a disposable unit, throw it out.