Fire Extinguishers are Essential in the Home

Fire Extinguishers are Essential in the Home
Posted on 01/01/2019

By UFA Assistant Chief Mike Watson

I wanted to share some information on the need for fire extinguishers in the home, where they should be located, what type of fire extinguishers are appropriate, and how to take care of them.

Fire extinguishers are essential in the home for two reasons: They can extinguish small fires (the size of a small garbage can) or suppress flames enough to allow you to escape while firefighters are responding.

The best plan is to have a fire extinguisher on each floor of the home, located at or toward exits. Additionally, a fire extinguisher should be located in the kitchen, garage and in areas that have a workbench area or project area. They should be easily seen, reached and user-friendly. The goal is to suppress a fire or slow its growth without becoming trapped or getting your escape route blocked.

Household extinguishers are classified A, B or C (or a combination of these) to indicate which types of fires on which they can be used. Here is a breakdown of what the categories mean:

•  Class A: ordinary combustibles like cloth, wood, and paper

•  Class B: flammable liquids like grease, gasoline, and oil

•  Class C: electrical appliances and tools

Many reliable brands of extinguishers sold at home stores (such as Home Depot and Lowe’s) are classified A:B:C and are suitable for all three categories of fires. They are pressurized and emit dry chemical powder when discharged. These ABC multi-purpose home fire extinguishers are the ones that are recommended most.

Approximately once a month, simply turn your extinguisher upside-down a couple times and then place it back in its spot. This will help prevent the dry chemical from settling and sticking to the inside bottom of the extinguisher. Read the label for instructions on how to properly use your extinguisher(s) and to learn when to replace them. Most home fire extinguishers have a lifespan of seven to 10 years.

In addition to having fire extinguishers, make sure you have an exit plan that your whole family is aware of and practice the plan. From a life-safety standpoint, it is more important to get out than to engage in fire suppression. That said, if you can extinguish a fire without placing yourself at undue risk, you could prevent a lot of damage to your home or apartment. Don’t forget to call 911 immediately and please don't cancel the fire department, even if you believe the fire is out.

Our firefighters are here to serve you. Feel free to drop by one of our fire stations to meet them and ask questions about the proper use of fire extinguishers, exit drills or anything else you would like to chat about.

Thank you and as always, stay safe!