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The Beginner’s Guide to Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguisher in a kitchen.

January 2024


When it comes to safety in your apartment or townhome, one of the most crucial tools you can have is a fire extinguisher. It’s like having a personal firefighter at your disposal, ready to leap into action at the first sign of danger. But if you’ve never owned or used one, the world of fire extinguishers can seem daunting. That’s why we’d like to walk you through everything you need to know in an easy-to-understand way.

Picking the Right Fire Extinguisher

First things first: not all fire extinguishers are created equal. There are different types for different kinds of fires. Most home fires fall into three categories – A, B, and C. Class A fires involve ordinary combustibles like wood and paper, Class B fires involve flammable liquids like oil or gasoline, and Class C fires involve electrical equipment.

For most homes, a multi-purpose extinguisher labeled “ABC” is the best choice. It’s versatile and can handle almost any small fire you may encounter. When shopping, you’ll also notice that fire extinguishers come in different sizes. A larger extinguisher might seem like a better choice, but remember, it will also be heavier. A good rule of thumb is to pick one that you can handle comfortably.

Where to Keep Your Fire Extinguisher

Now that you’ve got your extinguisher, you need to decide where to keep it. The key is accessibility. You want to be able to grab it quickly in an emergency. The kitchen is a common spot for fires to start, so it’s a good idea to have one there. But keep it away from potential fire sources like the stove. You don’t want to have to reach through flames to get it!

If you have a multi-story townhome, consider having one on each level.

Maintaining Your Fire Extinguisher

Maintenance is crucial for ensuring your fire extinguisher will work when you need it. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Check the pressure. Most extinguishers have a gauge that shows if the pressure is at the recommended level. Check this monthly.
  • Inspect for damage. Look for any signs of wear and tear, like dents or rust. If you find any, it might be time for a replacement.
  • Ensure accessibility. Regularly check that the extinguisher isn’t blocked by furniture or other items.
  • Professional servicing. Depending on the type, fire extinguishers need to be serviced by a professional every few years. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for specifics.

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

If a fire breaks out, remember the acronym PASS:

  • P is for pull the pin. This breaks the tamper seal.
  • A is for aim low. Point the extinguisher nozzle (or its hose) at the base of the fire.
  • S is for squeeze the handle. This releases the extinguishing agent.
  • S is for sweep from side to side. Move the nozzle or hose in a sweeping motion until the fire is completely out.

Remember, fire extinguishers are for small fires that are just starting. If a fire becomes too large or the environment becomes too dangerous, evacuate immediately and call 911.

Living at Erie Station Village means you are part of a community. So, keeping a fire extinguisher in your apartment or townhome doesn’t just mean keeping yourself safe from fire. It means keeping your neighbors safe, too. Remember, in case of a fire, your safety is the most important thing. Use your extinguisher wisely, but never hesitate to call 911 for professional help if the situation escalates. Stay safe and prepared!