Red Portable Fire Extinguisher with Red and White Extinguisher SignPortable Fire Extinguishers

When there is a fire, your focus should be on leaving the building and calling 9-1-1. Portable fire extinguishers are made for small fires with very little smoke. When used properly, an extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until firefighters arrive.


Your safety is the most important thing. Only think about using an extinguisher if:

  • The fire is small and there is very little smoke.
  • You know where the extinguisher is kept, and you can easily reach it.
  • You know the extinguisher will work because it has had regular maintenance.

When to Use

Only use an extinguisher if:

  • The fire is small, there is very little smoke, and the fire is not spreading.
  • Everyone in the building has been made aware there is a fire.
  • People have left or are leaving the building.
  • 9-1-1 has been called.
  • You have a clear escape path.
  • You know how to use an extinguisher.

Know How to Use an Extinguisher

  • Read the instructions that come with the extinguisher.
  • Know what type of fire it will put out.
  • Remember P-A-S-S.

P-A-S-S (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep)

To use a fire extinguisher:

  • Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you and release the locking mechanism.
  • Aim low at the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
  • Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side. Keep your eyes on fire. Repeat if the fire starts up again. Never turn your back on a fire even if you think it is out.

Note: Have the extinguisher serviced, even if you did not empty the extinguisher.

Choose the Right Extinguisher

There are five classes of fire. Fire extinguishers must be labelled to show the class of fire they can extinguish.

Class A

Ordinary combustibles such as paper, wood, rubbish, drapes, and upholstery.

Class B

Flammable liquids such as gasoline, oils, solvents, paints, and flammable gases.

Class C

Electrical fires involving Class “A” or Class “B” materials and live electrical power – overheated wiring, fuse boxes, stoves, motors etc.

Class D

Combustible metal fires. Magnesium and Titanium are the most common types of metal fires. Once a metal ignites do not use water to extinguish it.

Class K

Fires that involve cooking oils, grease or animal fat and can be extinguished using Purple K, the typical agent found in kitchen or galley extinguishers.


  • The recommended extinguisher for home use is an ABC type.
  • The size should be at least 2A10BC (four pound)

The extinguisher must be tested and listed by The Underwriters' Laboratories of Canada (ULC). Look for the ULC label on the extinguisher.

Where Should I Keep the Extinguisher

Install your extinguishers in plain view, above the reach of children, near an exit, and away from stoves and heating appliances. Best places for your extinguishers are in the kitchen, workshop, upstairs, at the top of a basement stairwell, and in the garage.

Extinguisher Maintenance

If your extinguisher needs service, please check on-line or the Yellow Pages for fire protection service companies.

Extinguisher Disposal

Fire extinguishers, even when empty are hazardous waste. Take them to any of Northumberland County's HHW depots.

Fire Extinguisher Training

Port Hope Fire and Emergency Services can deliver fire extinguisher training to organizations. The fee is $75 per hour with a two-hour minimum. Please contact Port Hope Fire and Emergency Services at 905-753-2230 for additional information or to schedule a training session.