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Do you know how to use it? Facts on fire extinguishers every family needs to know

MILWAUKEE -- October is Fire Safety Month -- and while many of us likely have a fire extinguisher at home -- do you really know how to use it? Dormie Roberts with Blain's Farm and Fleet joins Real Milwaukee with some fire extinguisher facts that will help keep your family safe.

Fire Extinguisher Class
The first step is to look at the label on a fire extinguisher to determine its class. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and UL created three Classes of Fires - A, B, and C. These letters are shown on the label of the fire extinguisher to indicate that it`s been tested and found to be effective on those classes of fire.
• Class A: Fires that involve common combustibles such as wood, paper, cloth, rubber, trash, and plastics.
• Class B: Fires that involve solvents, oil, gasoline, paints, lacquers and other oil-based products.
• Class C: Fires that involve energized electrical equipment.

Fire Extinguisher Rating
The next step is to look at ratings. The numbers 1-10 before the letter A represents the rating for that A capability, the higher the number the larger A class fire the unit can handle. The numbers 10, 20,40,60,80 before the letter B represents the rating for the B capability, once again the higher the number the larger B class fires the unit can handle. The letter C does not get a rating as the letter only signifies that the unit is electrically non-conductive.

Types of Fire Extinguishers
There are five different types of fire extinguishers, according to Kidde:
• Water - Absorbs the heat & cools the burning material.
• Dry Chemical - Smothers the fuel (preventing vapors from igniting) and interrupts the chemical chain reaction.
• CO2 - Removes the oxygen from the fire.
• Halotron - Interrupts the chemical chain reaction.
• Wet Chemical - Smothers and seals the fuel (preventing vapors from igniting) and removes the heat by cooling.

Do fire extinguishers expire?

Rechargeable fire extinguishers - According to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, rechargeable fire extinguishers must be recharged every 10 years. A rechargeable fire extinguisher has a metal head, and a gauge that reads Charge / Recharge. Check your fire extinguishers gauge monthly to verify that your fire extinguisher is still charged. If the extinguisher`s gauge needle is in the Recharge area, have your fire extinguisher recharged immediately. For more information about your specific fire extinguisher, refer to your user`s manual.

Disposable fire extinguishers - According to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, disposable fire extinguishers must be replaced every 12 years. A disposable fire extinguisher has a plastic head, and a gauge that reads Full / Empty. Check your fire extinguishers gauge monthly to verify that your fire extinguisher is still full. If the extinguisher`s gauge needle is in the EMPTY area, replace your fire extinguisher immediately. For more information about your specific fire extinguisher, refer to your user`s manual.

How do I use a fire extinguisher?
When putting out a fire, stand 6-8 feet away from the fire and follow the four-step PASS procedure, recommended by the NFPA:
• P - Pull the pin and hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you.
• A - Aim low at the base of the fire.
• S - Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly to discharge the extinguishing agent. When the agent firsts hits, the fire may briefly flare up. This is to be expected.
• S - Sweep the nozzle from side to side, moving carefully toward the fire. Keep the extinguisher aimed at the fire.

How do I store a fire extinguisher?
Kidde fire extinguishers should be stored in temperatures ranging from -40°F to 120°F to prevent the extinguisher from being damaged. Fire extinguishers stored below -40°F may result in the extinguisher`s valve or hose cracking.