Fire extinguishers are essential safety devices that can help you put out small fires or contain them until the fire department arrives. However, having a fire extinguisher is not enough if you don’t know how to mount it properly and use it correctly. In this article, we will show you how to mount a fire extinguisher on the wall, what types of fire extinguishers are suitable for different fire classes, and what safety tips you should follow when using a fire extinguisher.
- Fire extinguishers are classified by the types of fires they can fight: Class A, B, C, D, or K.
- You should choose a fire extinguisher that matches the fire risks in your home or workplace, and that is large enough to handle a small fire but not too heavy to operate.
- You should mount your fire extinguisher on a wall bracket or in a cabinet near an exit, with a handle between 3 and 5 feet above the floor.
- You should check your fire extinguisher regularly for any signs of damage, leakage, or corrosion, and replace it if necessary.
- You should only use a fire extinguisher if the fire is small and contained, everyone has evacuated the building, the fire department has been called, and you have a clear escape route.
- You should remember the word PASS when using a fire extinguisher: Pull the pin, Aim low at the base of the fire, Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly, and Sweep the nozzle from side to side.
How to Choose a Fire Extinguisher
Before you mount a fire extinguisher on the wall, you need to make sure you have the right one for your needs. Fire extinguishers are labeled with letters and numbers that indicate what types of fires they can fight and how much fire they can handle. The table below summarizes the different fire classes and the corresponding fire extinguishers.
|Fire Class||Description||Fire Extinguisher|
|A||Fires in ordinary combustible materials, such as wood, paper, cloth, rubber, and plastic.||Water, water mist, water spray, foam, dry powder (standard), wet chemical.|
|B||Fires in flammable liquids, such as gasoline, oil, grease, paint, and solvents.||Foam, dry powder (standard), carbon dioxide (CO2), wet chemical.|
|C||Fires in energized electrical equipment, such as appliances, wiring, fuse boxes, and circuit breakers.||Dry powder (standard), carbon dioxide (CO2).|
|D||Fires in combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, sodium, potassium, and lithium.||Dry powder (specialist).|
|K||Fires in cooking oils and fats, such as vegetable oil, animal fat, and grease.||Wet chemical.|
You should choose a fire extinguisher that matches the most common fire risks in your home or workplace. For example, if you have a kitchen with electrical appliances and cooking oils, you may want to have a multipurpose fire extinguisher that can handle Class A, B, and C fires (such as dry powder or CO2), as well as a wet chemical fire extinguisher that is specifically designed for Class K fires.
You should also consider the size and weight of the fire extinguisher. The size of the fire extinguisher is indicated by a number that represents how much fire it can put out compared to water. For example, a 2A fire extinguisher can put out twice as much fire as 2.5 gallons of water. The higher the number, the larger the fire it can handle. However, larger fire extinguishers are also heavier and harder to operate. You should choose a fire extinguisher that is large enough to handle a small fire but not too heavy for you to carry and use comfortably.
How to Mount a Fire Extinguisher on the Wall
Once you have chosen the right fire extinguisher for your needs, you need to mount it on the wall in a convenient and accessible location. Here are some tips on how to mount a fire extinguisher on the wall:
- Use a wall bracket or a cabinet that is designed for your specific type and size of fire extinguisher. Do not use nails or screws that may damage the cylinder or compromise its integrity.
- Mount your fire extinguisher near an exit or an escape route so that you can easily reach it and get out safely if needed. Do not mount it behind doors or furniture that may block your access or visibility.
- Mount your fire extinguisher with a handle between 3 and 5 feet above the floor so that it is within reach for most adults. If the fire extinguisher is heavier than 40 pounds, mount it lower with the handle no more than 3 feet above the floor.
- Leave at least 4 inches of space between the bottom of the fire extinguisher and the floor to prevent corrosion or damage from moisture or debris.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and local codes for mounting your fire extinguisher. If you are not sure how to mount it properly, contact a professional fire equipment dealer or installer for assistance.
How to Maintain a Fire Extinguisher
After you mount a fire extinguisher on the wall, you need to maintain it regularly to ensure that it is in good working condition and ready to use in case of a fire. Here are some tips on how to maintain a fire extinguisher:
- Check your fire extinguisher at least once a month for any signs of damage, leakage, corrosion, or tampering. Make sure that the pressure gauge is in the green zone, the nozzle and hose are clear of any obstructions, the pin and seal are intact, and the label and instructions are legible.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and local codes for servicing your fire extinguisher. Some fire extinguishers require annual or periodic professional inspection and testing, while others may have longer service intervals or self-service options. If your fire extinguisher needs servicing, contact a qualified fire equipment dealer or technician for assistance.
- Replace your fire extinguisher if it is expired, damaged, discharged, or recalled. Do not attempt to refill or repair a fire extinguisher yourself. Dispose of your old fire extinguisher according to local regulations and environmental guidelines.
How to Use a Fire Extinguisher Safely and Effectively
Knowing how to mount and maintain a fire extinguisher is important, but knowing how to use it safely and effectively is even more crucial. Here are some safety tips on how to use a fire extinguisher:
- Before you use a fire extinguisher, make sure that the fire is small and contained, everyone has evacuated the building, the fire department has been called or is being called, and you have a clear escape route. Do not use a fire extinguisher if the fire is too large or spreading, the room is filled with smoke or toxic fumes, or you are in danger of being trapped by the fire.
- Choose the right type of fire extinguisher for the type of fire you are facing. Do not use a water-based fire extinguisher on an electrical or grease fire, as it may cause electrocution or spread the flames. Do not use a CO2 fire extinguisher on a metal fire, as it may react violently with the metal. Check the label and symbols on your fire extinguisher to make sure it is suitable for the fire class.
- Remember the word PASS when using a fire extinguisher: Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep.
- Pull the pin that locks the lever or button of your fire extinguisher. This will allow you to discharge the agent.
- Aim low at the base of the fire, not at the flames. This will help you to put out the source of the fuel rather than just dispersing the heat.
- Squeeze the lever or button slowly and evenly to release a steady stream of agents. Do not squeeze too hard or too fast, as this may cause the agent to run out quickly or create a backdraft that may push the flames back at you.
- Sweep the nozzle from side to side across the base of the fire until it is completely out. Move closer to the fire as it diminishes, but keep a safe distance and watch out for any signs of reignition.
- After you use a fire extinguisher, back away from the area and keep an eye on it until the fire department arrives. Do not touch or move anything that may have been affected by the fire or the agent. Report any injuries or damages to the authorities.
Fire extinguishers are vital safety devices that can help you prevent a small fire from becoming a major disaster. However, they are only effective if you know how to choose them, mount them, maintain them, and use them properly. By following this guide, you can ensure that you have the right fire extinguisher for your needs and that you are prepared to use it safely and effectively in case of a fire emergency.