Things No One Tells You About Fire Extinguishers

using a fire extinguisher GIF

UseBuy fire extinguishers, they said. 
It will be easy, they said. 

The truth: Using a fire extinguisher isn’t always easy.

Getting to a fire before it spreads usually dictates how effective your fire extinguisher will be. You’ll have to make a decision about whether it’s better to try to extinguish the fire on your own or get out quickly to avoid being hurt. If you aren’t confident in your ability to fight a fire, even if you have an extinguisher, evacuate the scene and call the fire department. 

There are a few additional things that you need to know about fire extinguishers. Read on.

  1. You cannot purchase a fire extinguisher and then assume you are covered for the rest of your life. Rechargeable fire extinguishers need to pass the hydro test every 12 years. Disposable fire extinguishers should be replaced every 12 years.
  2. Fire extinguishers need regular maintenance and upkeep. Around once a month, a visual and physical check should be done to ensure the device is in working condition. It is best to read about the checks in the manual you receive. Or you can have a competent professional check your extinguishers.
  3. Fire extinguishers are labeled with their class and a number preceding it. That number tells how effective the fire extinguisher is, based on its comparison to 1.25 gallons of water. For example, a 4-A extinguisher has the fire-fighting power of 5 gallons of water (4 x 1.25 = 5). Higher numbers usually mean heavier tanks! You should pick a fire extinguisher that you are sure you’d be able to carry and hold during an emergency.

Stay alert while using your fire extinguishers, and don’t aim them at anyone unless they’re actively on fire! Those Three Stooges antics might fly in the movies, but unnecessarily breathing in the chemicals from a fire extinguisher could make you sick.

Stay safe out there, friends! If buying fire extinguishers was the first step in your fire preparedness plan, be sure to check out our full fire safety guide. Run those drills on the regular and don’t breathe the smoke!

About the Authors

It takes a village! We are researching, writing and fact checking as a family. Collaboration is the name of the game, whether we’re running from a zombie horde or finding the best way to turn a complex concept into a deliciously digestible set of bullet points.

Katherine Esperanza is a Los Angeles based writer. When she's not conjuring new queer slice-of-life short stories, she's busy watching the newest films, out at queer shows, supporting queer artists, or just checking out the queer community as a whole.

A former international non-profiteer, small business owner, and co-op'er, Katherine is delighted to help introduce more leftist politics into the disaster preparedness/prepper sphere, which is currently far too right-wing.