Fire Extinguishers


Every home should have a fire extinguisher with the following characteristics:

  • Multipurpose dry chemical
  • Type ABC
  • Minimum rating of 2A10BC

Fire extinguishers should be readily available where home fires commonly start.

  • Do not place in cupboards or store directly beside appliances such as stoves and furnaces
  • Mount them close to the exit doors in the kitchen, basement and garage

Extinguisher maintenance

  • Extinguishers must be serviced by a professional at least every 10 years and/or according to manufacturer’s instructions
  • Extinguishers also require service after each use

Check your fire extinguishers every month to ensure:

  • The pin in place
  • The seal is not broken
  • The pressure gauge indicates the required pressure
  • The discharge nozzle is not obstructed
  • Look for the ULC label when purchasing extinguishers at hardware and department stores.

Visit the fire extinguisher website for more information.


Properly operated, fire extinguishers can help stop a small fire before it has a chance to grow out of control.

  • Extinguishers are generally rated with ABC or BC rating
  • The letter tells you what types of fires it is designed to fight.

Fires are classified as follows:

  • Class A: materials that burn such as wood, cloth, paper, rubber or plastic
  • Class B: liquids that burn such as gas, oil and grease
  • Class C: Electrical equipment

The number before the letters tells you how big a fire it will put out compared to other extinguishers.

  • A 1OBC device will put out a larger fire than a 5BC device
  • Coast Guard approved extinguishers required for boats are hand portable, either 5BC or 1OBC classification and have a specific marine type-mounting bracket.
  • A fire extinguisher you choose must be certified and labelled by the US/CON Coast Guard (for marine use) ULC or UL.
  • It is recommended the extinguishers be mounted in a readily accessible position, away from the areas where a fire could likely start, such as the galley or the engine compartment.

There are four basic steps to using a fire extinguisher.
Remember the P.A.S.S. Word

Pull the safety pin by grabbing the ring and twisting.
Aim the hose at the base of the fire.
Squeeze the handle.
Sweep the hose from side to side while discharging

and Be Prepared

Training and practice are the best ways to prepare for emergencies.

  • Make certain you know the P.A.S.S. system and understand how to safely use a fire extinguisher before you ever need to.
  • Don't force yourself to fight a fire that makes you uncomfortable or puts you at risk.
  • Fire extinguishers are small quick fixes. If you are unable to put out the fire with one extinguisher, leave.
  • Don't let the fire come between you and your exit. Keep your back to the exit and the fire in front of you.

Visit the Fire Education page to book a Fire Extinguisher training session.

Return to the Fire Safety and Guidelines page.