Fire Extinguisher Safety - NYCM Insurance Blog

Find an Agent

Home Top Ad

Responsive Ads Here

Oct 11, 2023

Fire Extinguisher Safety

Read Our Comprehensive Guide to Fire Extinguisher Safety


When a fire starts unexpectedly, having a fire extinguisher close by can make all the difference between a quick scare or a disaster. Owning a fire extinguisher, or multiple, can give you the peace of mind of knowing that you have the tools to act should a small fire ever start in or around your home or vehicle.


Before using a fire extinguisher, it’s important to understand when it’s safe to try to put a fire out yourself. You should also familiarize yourself with how to use your fire extinguisher and to be aware of when it’s time to replace it. This will ensure the extinguisher works as intended in case you need to use it.


Continue reading to learn the answers to 5 common questions about fire extinguishers!


When Should I Use a Fire Extinguisher?


Making sure your fire extinguishers are easily accessible and knowing how to use them can save lives and property. Before you use a fire extinguisher, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) recommends that people first confirm some important questions:


       “Have I alerted others in the building that there’s a fire?

       Has someone called the fire department?

       Am I physically able to use a fire extinguisher?

       Is the fire small and contained in a single object (like a pan or a wastebasket)?

       Am I safe from the fire’s toxic smoke?

       Do I have a clear escape route?”


USFA guidelines state that if the answer is “yes” to all of these questions, then the situation warrants the use of a fire extinguisher. If you cannot answer “yes” to all of these questions, it is recommended to alert others, leave the building, and call 911 as soon as possible. Always remember that being able to safely evacuate the building should be your number one priority.


How Do I Use a Fire Extinguisher?


If you are in a situation where the use of a fire extinguisher is warranted, being familiar with your extinguisher ahead of time will help you understand how to deploy it if the time comes. The USFA recommends that people use the acronym of PASS as a memory tool for how to use a fire extinguisher:


When it comes to using a fire extinguisher, it may only be effective if used properly and during its active lifespan. To ensure this, you will want to perform regular inspections of your fire extinguishers.


How Can I Inspect My Fire Extinguisher?


The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends fire extinguishers should be inspected at home every month. To complete a fire extinguisher inspection, here are some things you will need to check:


       Is the extinguisher located in an optimal spot?

If you cannot quickly and easily access your fire extinguisher, it should be moved to another location. Consider placing extinguishers in higher risk areas, such as near your stove, dryer, or grill. Pro-tip: Have at least one fire extinguisher on every floor of your home.

       Is the pressure gauge in the green?

In order for your extinguisher to function properly, it needs to be optimally charged with the right amount of pressure. If your extinguisher’s gauge is showing in the red, you will need to replace it.

       Is the extinguisher damaged?

Check the fire extinguisher’s can, nozzle, and hose area for damage or rust. Clean and shake your extinguisher when completing the inspection to test for any leaks.

       When was the last time my fire extinguisher was inspected by a professional?

When you complete your  at-home inspections, check the date on the maintenance tag to see when it was last inspected by a professional. The NFPA recommends that all fire extinguishers should be inspected by a professional both upon initial installation and once a year.


When Do Fire Extinguishers Expire?


The life expectancy of fire extinguishers can vary based on a number of factors, but many manufacturers state that disposable fire extinguishers should be replaced about every 10 years. By having a professional conduct annual fire extinguisher inspections, you can also have the added safety of relying on their expertise to know when it is time to replace the old with the new.


Which Fire Extinguisher Should I Use?


You may have noticed that different fire extinguishers have different letters of A, B, C, or D on the label. These letters indicate what fire class – or what kind(s) of fire –  an extinguisher is equipped to put out:


       Class A extinguishers are suitable for fires of ordinary combustible material, like wood, fabric, rubber, paper, and also plastic materials.

       Class B extinguishers are suitable for fires of flammable and combustible liquids, petroleum greases, oils, alcohols, and flammable greasants.

       Class C extinguishers are only suitable for fires involving energized electrical equipment.

       Class D extinguishers are used on fires dealing with flammable or combustible metals.


Some fire extinguishers are multi-purpose and may be printed with more than one letter. Depending on the kind of fire extinguisher you purchase, the extinguishing agent within will vary in order to best put out various substances.


In the right hands, a fire extinguisher can be a huge aid in preventing a catastrophe. Click below to learn about 13 bad habits that run the risk of a house fire.