Portable Fire Extinguishers

The proper use of portable fire extinguishers can extinguish many fires while they are still small. You should be aware, however, that your local fire department should be notified without delay as soon as any fire is discovered.

The Code requirements regulates the number, type, and placement of the portable fire extinguishers that are required for any building. These portable fire extinguishers are an important part of an overall fire safety program. It is important to keep in mind that the successful use of portable fire extinguishers depends on the following:

Also, you should know that portable fire extinguishers are valuable for immediate use on small fires. They contain a limited amount of extinguishing material and need to be used properly so that this material is not wasted.

OSHA may require that an employer provide education to its employees on how to use the portable fire extinguishers that are located in the workplace. Generally, operation instructions are provided on the side of the fire extinguisher. They clearly describe how to use the extinguisher in case of an emergency. An example of these instructions is shown below.

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When used properly, a portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property. Portable fire extinguishers, intended for your home or business, are not designed to fight large or spreading fires. With so many fire extinguishers to choose from, selecting the proper one for your home or business can be a daunting task. Fire extinguishers are divided into five categories, based on their uses. Extinguishers can even have multi-uses.

The classes of fire extinguishers are:

Class A – Extinguishers are for ordinary combustible materials such as paper, wood, cardboard, and most plastics. The numerical rating on these types of extinguishers indicates the amount of water it holds and the amount of fire it can extinguish.class_a_fire
Class B – Fires involve flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, grease and oil. The numerical rating for class B extinguishers indicates the approximate number of square feet of fire it can extinguish.class_b_fire
Class C – Fires 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 C extinguishers do not have a numerical rating. The C classification means the extinguishing agent is non-conductive.class_c_fire
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. These types of extinguishers also have no numerical rating, nor are they given a multi-purpose rating – they are designed for class D fires only. (NO picture symbol)class_d_fire
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.class_k_fire

*****A commercial occupancy in the State of Illinois must have a certified fire extinguisher by a licensed company and must be tested annually*****