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Wentzville Fire Protection District firefighter and fire truck at a fire training exercise

Wentzville FPD News & Fire Safety Tips

Wentzville Fire Protection District’s Comprehensive Guide to Fire Extinguishers

Understand the best fire extinguisher for every fire. Homeowners should keep a Class ABC extinguisher in their home for emergencies.

Every home and building must include a fire extinguisher. This simple tool provides protection when a fire unexpectedly erupts. Learning the proper technique for extinguishing a fire is a vital life skill that saves lives and property, minimizing damage, injury, and financial loss. 

There are numerous “classes” of fire extinguishers, and residents might feel confused about which extinguisher they need and should use for a house fire. Wentzville Fire Protection District is breaking down the mystery of extinguishers and explaining everything you need to know to extinguish a fire properly and feel empowered. 

Table of Contents:

What Is in a Fire Extinguisher?

Types of Fire Extinguishers

Fire Extinguisher Classes

  • ABC Fire Extinguisher

  • Class A Fire Extinguisher

  • Class B Fire Extinguisher

  • Class C Fire Extinguisher

  • Class D Fire Extinguisher

  • Class K Fire Extinguisher

  • What Is the Best Home Fire Extinguisher?

  • This Is the Best Kitchen Fire Extinguisher

Why You Need a Car Fire Extinguisher

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

  • Remember the PASS Fire Extinguisher Trick

What Do the Symbols on a Fire Extinguisher Indicate?

What Is in a Fire Extinguisher?

The frothy white spray that emits from a fire extinguisher might be an unexpected surprise for a user who is anticipating a clear spray of water. However, different types of extinguishers are designed with different fire extinguishing agents. This means the spray from each extinguisher might appear slightly different in color or texture. 

What is in a fire extinguisher depends on the type of fire the extinguisher must remediate. Fire types include:

  • Electrical

  • Gas or Fuel

  • Cooking

  • Chemical

Each type of extinguisher includes a unique suppressant. Extinguishers emit a mixture of water and potassium acetate(potassium salt), potassium carbonate(a type of salt), potassium citrate (a type of potassium salt), or a combination of the chemicals.

Confused? We will explain everything you need to know about these fires and the class of extinguishers designed to suppress them. 

Types of Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are divided into different classes that are formulated to suppress a specific type of fire. There are six classes of fire extinguishers.

Fire Extinguisher Classes

Use the chart to discover the ideal use of each type of fire extinguisher.

Fire Extinguisher Class


ABC Fire Extinguisher

Extinguishes all types of fires, including electrical, liquid, gas, chemical blazes. This is the ideal extinguisher for a home.

Class A Extinguisher

Remediates fires in most materials like rubber, wood, plastic, etc.

Class B Extinguisher

Suppresses fires that were ignited from liquids (e.g., grease, tar, alcohol, etc.)

Class C Extinguisher

Suppress electrical fires.

Class D Extinguisher

Extinguishes fires from metals (like zinc)

Class K Extinguisher

This extinguisher is used in commercial kitchen and extinguishes grease and other cooking fires.

What Is the Best Home Fire Extinguisher?

Homeowners do not need to keep five different extinguishers to manage potential fires. The best fire extinguisher for the home is the versatile and universal Class ABC extinguisher, which quickly suppresses fires of most origins.

This Is the Best Kitchen Fire Extinguisher

Different extinguishers are recommended for residential and commercial kitchens. The Class ABC extinguisher remediates home kitchen fires. However, commercial kitchens need to be protected with a Class K extinguisher. 

DIY Fire Extinguisher for the Kitchen

Cooking fires are the result of food or grease coming into contact with stove burners or the heating element in the oven. Individuals must know how to handle these fast-growing fires to minimize damage and remediate them quickly.

Water will not extinguish grease fires. Instead, douse the flames with either salt or baking soda. Keep these items handy while cooking. 

Another quick suppression tactic is to smother a fire in a pan or pot with a lid. If the fire starts in the oven, opening the door mixes oxygen, which feeds the flame. Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and the fire should smother naturally. If it does not extinguish, use either an ABC extinguisher or baking soda or salt if the fire originated from grease or oil.

Why You Need a Car Fire Extinguisher

All homes should have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and the garage. In addition, every vehicle also should include a car fire extinguisher. A small ABC fire extinguisher is ideal for the car and can extinguish gas, electrical, or other types of fires. 

Keeping a fire extinguisher in the car can save a life. Car accidents can lead to a small fire that ignites into an explosive emergency. 

The Wentzville crew demonstrates the PASS technique: Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep.

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Everyone can and should learn how to properly extinguish a fire. These tools are simple to operate. Use our step-by-step instructions for operating a fire extinguisher and remediate any small blaze.

Step 1: Remember the PASS Fire Extinguisher Trick

The first step to extinguish the fire ensures you have a cheat sheet for operating the extinguisher. P.A.S.S. is the acronym that guides fire extinguisher use and operation. PASS means: Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep.

Step 2: Pull the Pin

To prepare the extinguisher for use, remove the pin near the handle.

Step 2: Aim the Nozzle

Point the nozzle at the base of the fire. Always aim at the base, never the top of the flames.

Step 3: Squeeze the Handle

Squeeze the handle while aiming at the base of the fire. Squeezing releases and sprays the contents of the extinguisher.

Step 4: Sweep the Stream at the Base of the Flames

Sweep the extinguisher spray back and forth, aiming at the base of the flames (this addresses the fire's origin). Continue to sweep and spray until the fire is extinguished.

What Do the Symbols on a Fire Extinguisher Indicate?

Every fire extinguisher bears multiple symbols. What do they mean? Every extinguisher will include these symbols:

Letters: The letters denote the extinguisher class. The extinguisher will include an A, B, C, D, K or ABC

Shapes: Each type of extinguisher also correlates to a specific shape. Class A is indicated by a triangle, Class B is represented by a square, and a circle represents Class C. 

Instructions on how to use the extinguisher could feature pictures or graphics. These images will typically illustrate the PASS guidelines.

Extinguisher Education: Helping Students in Wentzville Understand Fire Suppression

The Wentzville Fire Protection District crews and leadership regularly visit area schools to educate students about fire safety. Our education and outreach also include teaching older students how to operate a fire extinguisher properly. We let students practice the PASS technique outdoors, empowering them to feel confident about handling a fire emergency. 

Contact the District to schedule a class or presentation for your school or organization.

1 Comment

I used to have one on each level of my house but they are so expensive that we don't even get them anymore and the ones we have are not refillable it's really sad they're so expensive

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