January 2011 Fire Extinguishers


                                     FIRE EXTINGUISHERS

Oxygen, heat, and fuel are referred to as the “fire triangle”.  Add the fourth element, “a chemical reaction”, and you have a fire.  The important thing to remember is take one of these things away and you won’t have a fire or the fire will be extinguished.  Essentially, fire extinguishers put out fires by taking away one of the elements of the fire triangle.  Fire safety is based upon the principle of keeping fuel sources and ignition sources separated.

Having a fire extinguisher is one thing, having it handy in case of fire is another.   It is recommended to have at least one fire extinguisher on each floor of your home.  Also, keep them in plain sight and no more than five feet above the floor. Remember, smoke rises and if you have your fire extinguisher stored in a high location, you may not be able to see it if a fire breaks out.  Do not put them in closets because that will cost you valuable time when you are reaching for it. And even though a fire extinguisher may not match your décor, do not put it behind curtains or drapes.

The most important places to have a fire extinguisher are in areas that are more susceptible to fire. These areas are the kitchen and the garage.

  • Kitchen: According to U.S. Fire Administration statistics, the kitchen is the place where fires most often start. If you have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, most grease fires can be contained. Do not put the fire extinguisher near the stove as it will be out of your reach if the fire is on the stovetop. You should not have to risk burns just to reach your extinguisher. Therefore, the best place to put the fire extinguisher is by the door of the kitchen so you have easy access to it.
  • Garage: It is a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher here because in most homes, this is the place we use as storage. Often, leftover paints, solvents, and building materials will be piled up without a second thought. Again, the best location to mount the fire extinguisher is by the door.

To use a fire extinguisher, pull the pin on the extinguisher and remember to aim at the base of the fire as we are trying to take the fuel away from the fire.  Use a sweeping motion, moving the extinguisher from side to side.  Operate the extinguisher from several feet away and then move towards the fire as it starts to extinguish.  Make sure you are familiar with the instructions on the use of the fire extinguisher.  Different types of fire extinguishers should be used at different distances.  Remember; aim at the base of the fire, not at the flames!

The following are the classes of fire extinguishers and  the use of them on various kinds of fires.

  • Class A – ordinary materials such as paper, wood, cardboard and most plastics.  The numerical rating on this type of extinguisher indicates the amount of water it holds and the amount of fire it can extinguish. 
  • Class B – combustible materials such as gasoline, kerosene, grease, and oil.  The numerical rating on this type of extinguisher indicates the amount of square feet of fire it can extinguish. 
  • Class C – electrical equipment such as appliances, wiring, circuit breakers, and outlets. Never use water to extinguish electrical fires.  This extinguisher does not have a numerical rating; the C classification means it is non conductive. 
  • Class D – combustible metals magnesium, titanium, and sodium. 
  • Class K – vegetable oils, animal oils, or fats in cooking appliances.  This type of extinguisher is used mostly in restaurants. 

Check with your local fire department for more information on the use of fire extinguishers.  Most importantly, if a fire breaks out in your home, ensure you have an exit for yourself and your family and call 911.

                                                                                   Mike Petullo CEM Chairman

                                                                              CMFPD Administrative Control Board