Everyone should have at least one fire extinguisher at home, but it’s just as important to ensure you have the proper type of fire extinguisher. Fire protection experts recommend that you have three extinguishers in your home: One for the kitchen, one for the basement and one for the garage. If there’s a fire, get everyone outside and have someone call the fire department. Only then should you attempt to fight a small fire. If the fire becomes large, get out. Fire extinguishers are designed to put out small fires, not large ones.

"Extinguishers should be installed near an escape route and be easily accessible in case of an emergency."

The ABCD’s of fire extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are divided into four categories, A, B, C, or D, based on different types of fires. The following is a quick guide to help choose the appropriate extinguisher for the right type of fire.

  • Class A extinguishers are for ordinary combustibles materials such as paper, wood, drapes and upholstery.
  • Class B extinguishers are for flammable and combustible liquids such as fuel oil, gasoline, paint, grease in a frying pan, solvents and other flammable liquids.
  • Class C extinguishers are for electrical equipment such as appliances, wiring, overheated fuse boxes, conductors, and other electrical sources.
  • Class D extinguishers are for metals such as magnesium, potassium and sodium, and are commonly found in a chemical laboratory.
  • A multi-purpose dry chemical extinguisher labeled ABC puts out most types of fires: wood, paper, cloth, flammable liquids and electrical fires. If you plan on buying more than one, Fire Prevention Canada suggest purchasing a BC for the kitchen, an A for the living room and an ABC for the basement and garage. Learn how to PASS Before using your fire extinguisher, make sure to read the instructions. Although there are many different types of fire extinguishers, all of them operate in a similar manner.
  • Pull the pin. Some units require the releasing of a lock latch, pressing a puncture lever, inversion or other motion.
  • Aim the extinguisher nozzle (horn) at the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze or press the handle.
  • Sweep from side-to-side at the base of the fire and discharge the contents of the extinguisher. Extinguishers should be installed near an escape route and be easily accessible in case of an emergency. They should be maintained on a regular basis, at least once a year. Ask the retailer how to have your extinguisher serviced and inspected. Refill the extinguisher after ANY use. A partially used extinguisher might as well be empty. Also, ensure that your fire extinguisher is labeled by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.