Fire Extinguishers - you may not notice them until you need them to save property, life

  • Published
  • By Fire Department
  • Edwards AFB
While there's a good chance your fire extinguishers will sit on the wall for years collecting dust, it could end up saving your property and even your life.

A fire extinguisher is an absolute necessity in any home or office. It is important to understand exactly what fire extinguishers do and how they do it. We'll also discuss the correct way to use an extinguisher and see what sort of fire suppressant works best on different types of fires.

Fire is the result of a chemical reaction called combustion - typically a reaction between oxygen in the atmosphere and some sort of fuel (wood or gasoline). Of course, wood and gasoline don't spontaneously catch on fire just because they're surrounded by oxygen. For combustion to take place, the fuel has to be heated to its ignition temperature.

With so many fire extinguishers to choose from, selecting the proper one for your home or office can be a daunting task. Everyone should have at least one fire extinguisher at home and in the office, but it's just as important to ensure you have the proper type of fire extinguisher. Talk to your Edwards AFB Fire Department to help you select the right extinguisher.

Following is a quick guide to help choose the right type of extinguisher:
  • Class A extinguishers are for ordinary combustible materials such as paper, wood, cardboard, and most plastics.
  • Class B extinguishers are for fires that involve flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, grease and oil.
  • Class C extinguishers are for fires that involve electrical equipment, such as appliances, wiring, circuit breakers and outlets. Never use water to extinguish class C fires - the risk of electrical shock is far too great!
  • Class D fire extinguishers are commonly found in a chemical laboratory. They are for fires that involve combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, potassium and sodium.
  • Class K fire extinguishers are for fires that involve cooking oils, trans-fats, or fats in cooking appliances and are typically found in restaurant and cafeteria kitchens.
  • Once you've selected the right extinguisher for your home or office, you'll need to know how to operate it. It's easy to remember how to use a fire extinguisher if you can remember the acronym PASS, which stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep.
  • Pull the pin. This will allow you to discharge the extinguisher.
  • Aim at the base of the fire. If you aim at the flames, the extinguishing agent will fly right through and do no good. You want to hit the fuel.
  • Squeeze the top handle or lever. This depresses a button that releases the pressurized extinguishing agent in the extinguisher.
  • Sweep from side to side until the fire is completely out. Start using the extinguisher from a safe distance away, and then move forward. Once the fire is out, keep an eye on the area in case it reignites.
While the PASS acronym has helped many people remember how to operate a fire extinguisher, there is no substitute for hands-on experience. In fact, all personnel are required to have fire extinguisher training once a year. If you would like to practice using a fire extinguisher (or set up a class to do so), contact the Edwards AFB Fire Prevention team at 277-3643 for an appointment. The fire department offers fire extinguisher training on the first and third Tuesday of every month at 1 pm at Bldg. 2860.

Should you encounter a fire, close the door to contain it. This will confine the fire to a smaller area. Alert people in the area. You can easily alert others by pulling a pull station. Pull stations are usually located next to an exit or stairwell door. Dial 911 from your office phone and give as much information to the dispatcher as possible. If you are calling from your cell phone, dial (661) 277-4540 to report the emergency.

Want more information on Fire Extinguishers? Contact the Edwards Air Force Base Fire Department. They can help you with all fire safety related topics. They may also perform a home or business fire safety inspection.
Contact the Edwards Fire Prevention office at 277-3643 for more information.