When used properly, a fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until firefighters arrive. Fire extinguishers do not replace the need to call your local fire department ‐ always call 9‐1‐1 when a fire occurs, no matter how small.    
Fire Extinguisher Operation & Maintenance

Operating a Fire Extinguisher

Remember the acronym “P.A.S.S.” to effectively put out a fire:

  • PULL the pin
  • AIM the nozzle at base of fire
  • SQUEEZE the handle
  • SWEEP the nozzle side to side

A typical fire extinguisher contains 10 seconds of extinguishing power. Once the fire is out, don’t walk away! Watch the area for a few minutes in case it re‐ignites. Be sure to recharge all extinguishers immediately after use regardless of how much they were used.


Never place yourself or others in jeopardy by attempting to extinguish a fire. If you cannot extinguish a small fire with a portable fire extinguisher, or if the smoke becomes hazardous, leave the area immediately. Close the door to confine and contain the fire. Call 9‐1‐1 and wait outside for the firefighters to arrive.

Types of Fire Extinguishers

The most common household fire extinguishers are dry chemical and rated class ABC. These are effective for use on common combustibles, flammable liquids and fires involving electrical equipment.

Inspection & Maintenance

  • Check your extinguishers every 30 days for the following:
  • The extinguisher is not blocked by equipment or objects that could interfere with access in an emergency.
  • The pressure is at the recommended level. The needle on the gauge should be in the green zone.
  • The nozzle or other parts are not hindered in any way.
  • The pin and tamper seal (if it has one) are intact.
  • There are no dents, leaks, rust, chemical deposits or other signs of wear. Wipe off any corrosive chemicals, oil or dust that may have deposited on the extinguisher.
  • Shake or use a rubber mallet to tamp the extinguisher once a month to prevent the powder from settling.

Fire extinguishers should be inspected annually by a certified service company and pressure tested (a process called hydrostatic testing) after 12 years to ensure that the cylinder is safe to use. Consult your owner’s manual, extinguisher label or the manufacturer to see when yours may need such testing. If the extinguisher is damaged or needs recharging, replace it immediately!