Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Home Fire Suppression - Fire Extinguishers

Home Fire Suppression - Fire Extinguishers

Fires statistically occur a lot around fireworks with over half of the total July US home fires due to fireworks according to the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS). A recent neighborhood brush fire made me think of this article I wrote for a magazine a while back.

Fire extinguishers are not the sexist thing to buy while shopping, but they do seem pretty awesome when a fire is licking the ceiling of your garage, kitchen or burning your deck. Nothing is more devastating than feeling helpless as a fire continues to burn even after being soaked in water. For common liquid, gas, plastic, or battery based fires, water does nothing to extinguish the flames, but an ABC fire extinguisher will.

Fire extinguishers are not all the same. ABC Fire Extinguishers use monoammonium phosphate, a dry chemical with the ability to quickly smother many different types of fires including:

  • Class A is for trash, wood, and paper
  • Class B is for liquids and gasses
  • Class C is for energized electrical sources & batteries


  • Choosing a refillable large UL Rated ABC extinguisher 2+ lbs preferable 5-lb model.
  • Model with a visible pressure gauge.
  • Purchase only a Bright Red color which is widely and easily recognized as an extinguisher color
  • Avoiding compact/mini sizes or “designer” models due to their very limited capacity and often ratings limited to only A or A & B type fires.
  • Standardize on only one style of trigger control for the extinguisher, preferably with a standard commercial style lever and safety pin configuration. Non-standard “designer” button, trigger, or slider controls can be difficult to remember how they work in high stress situations. A standard pull pin and squeeze control is usually the best and most familiar option.
  • Wall mounting or securing a full sized ABC fire extinguisher in the garage and each vehicle, kitchen, bedroom and next to each exterior exit door.
  • Add extra smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in additional rooms which typically do not have detectors such as garages, storage rooms, and sheds to give yourself more time and warning should a fire or carbon monoxide emergency occur.
  • Set a reminder to check your smoke alarms, Carbon Monoxide detectors and Fire extinguishers at least yearly.
  • Replace or refill extinguishers if the gauge reads under-charged or over-charged.
  • Kidd and First Alert are two quality extinguisher brands which are available widely.
  • Refillable grade extinguishers are typically higher quality, however from a cost perspective are less expensive to replace vs refill.
  • Replace or refill extinguisher after ANY DISCHARGE USE.


  • Most fire extinguishers operate using the following P.A.S.S. technique:
  • PULL... Pull the pin. This will also break the tamper seal.
  • AIM... Aim low, pointing the extinguisher nozzle (or its horn or hose) at the base of the fire.
  • NOTE: Do not touch the plastic discharge horn on CO2 extinguishers, it gets very cold and may damage skin.
  • SQUEEZE... Squeeze the handle to release the extinguishing agent.
  • SWEEP... Sweep from side to side at the base of the fire until it appears to be out. Watch the area. If the fire re-ignites, repeat steps 2 - 4.
  • If you have the slightest doubt about your ability to fight a fire....EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY!


  • Observe county and state wind and “dry” fire hazard warnings
  • Assure a garden hose is fully extended and operational
  • Soak roof, landscaping and lawn with hose/sprinkler
  • Always assure a large 5-lb operable extinguisher is place outside
  • Tall grass/brush fires are difficult and dangerous to extinguish without experience and large amounts of water. Call 911 immediately.

Fire extinguishers are the best insurance policy to fight against the most common destruction threat for a home or auto. Stay safe and have a great Independence Day holiday.

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