How To Choose A Portable Fire Extinguisher

Knowing how to choose a portable fire extinguisher for your home or business is extremely important. Having a portable fire extinguisher close at hand can dramatically improve your odds of stopping a fire before it gets out of control. But only if it’s in working order and is the right size and type of extinguisher for the fire you’re fighting.

Here’s what you need to know to choose the right portable fire extinguisher for every situation:

Types of Fires and Fire Extinguishers
Fires are classified as A, B, C, D, or K based on what is fueling the fire. Portable fire extinguishers are classified by the type of fires they are designed to extinguish. Choosing the right extinguisher is critical. The wrong type won’t put out the fire and can actually make things worse.

  • Class A fires involve ordinary combustibles, such as paper, trash, some plastics, wood, and cloth. A rule of thumb is if it leaves an ash, it is a Class A fire.
  • Class B fires involve flammable gases or liquids, such as propane, oil, and gasoline.
  • Class C fires involve energized electrical components.
  • Class D fires involve combustible metals such as aluminum, magnesium, beryllium, and sodium.
  • Class K fires involve vegetable or animal cooking oils or fats typically used in deep fryers or griddles.

Fire extinguishers will have a symbol for each hazard type for which they are rated. Many portable extinguishers are rated for use with more than one classification of fire.

Look for hazard ratings on the fire extinguisher tank.

An extinguisher with a BC rating is suitable for use with fires involving flammable liquids and energized electrical equipment. An extinguisher with an ABC rating is suitable for fires involving ordinary combustibles, flammable liquids, and energized electrical equipment.

ABC is the most common and is a great choice to have on hand. Note: A class C rating is only given to extinguishers that do not conduct electricity and already have a Class A or B rating.

Fire Extinguisher Sizes
Fire extinguishers come in different sizes—measured in pounds—that reflect the amount of fire-fighting chemical inside the tank.

Five- to 10-pound sizes are common options. Five pounds is generally sufficient for the average size room, while 10 pounds is better for a garage, workshop, or other larger areas including commercial spaces. However, always factor in the physical capabilities of yourself and other adults who might need to use the extinguisher.

LVC Companies can answer all your questions on portable fire extinguisher selection, placement and maintenance to make sure your property is protected and up to code. LVC provides portable fire extinguisher sales and service in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

We specialize in the sale, testing, inspection and maintenance of portable fire extinguishers for commercial and multi-unit residential applications. Our lineup ranges from 2.5-pound handheld portables to 350-pound wheeled units. We sell industry-leading products from manufacturer partners Amerex and ANSUL. We also offer hands-on, live-fire training programs.

LVC also offers a Total Compliance Management program (TCM). This program coordinates and consolidates required inspections of multiple fire and life safety systems, including portable fire extinguishers. TCM also archives inspection records and tracks corrective measures, so you don’t have to.

Contact LVC today for more information or to schedule a consultation to discuss your portable fire extinguisher needs.


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