Your guide to home fire extinguishers

Your guide to home fire extinguishers
Posted on 02/07/2024
group of fire extinguishers

The Lenexa Fire Department breaks down how to buy, use and dispose of your fire extinguisher the right way.

What type of extinguisher should I buy?

The National Fire Protection Association recommends a home fire extinguisher with a minimum rating of 5-lb 2A:10B:C. What does that mean?

  • 5-lb: The pounds indicate the weight of the extinguishing agent in the canister. It’s typically a dry chemical powder.

  • 2A: The number before the A is the water equivalency for the extinguisher. 1=1.25 gallons. A 2A extinguisher put out a fire as well as 2.5 gallons of water in testing.

  • 10B: The number in front of the B indicates the approximate area (in square feet) of a flammable liquid fire that one extinguisher could put out.

  • C: There is no number for C. If an extinguisher is C-rated, that means there is no risk of shock when using it on energized equipment.

The letters indicate the class of fire the extinguisher can put out. (Class D and K fires have special extinguishers specific to the material being extinguished. These are normally only found in commercial settings.

  • A: Ordinary Combustibles. Wood, paper, cloth, etc.
  • B: Flammable Liquids. Grease, paint, solvents, etc.
  • C: Electrical Equipment. Electrical panel, wiring, etc.
  • D: Combustible Metal. Magnesium, aluminum, etc.
  • E: Cooking Media: Vegetable or animal oils and fats. 

How to use an extinguisher

Before using a fire extinguisher, ensure everyone is out of the house, you have a clear path to an exit and the fire department has been called. If the fire is small and not rapidly spreading, follow P-A-S-S to use a fire extinguisher. 

  1. Pull the pin.
  2. Aim low.
  3. Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
  4. Sweep the nozzle from side to side. 

Most importantly, know when to leave. If the fire does not extinguish quickly, get out! 


If the extinguisher has been used and is empty, put it in your standard trash bin for disposal. 

If the extinguisher is expired or still pressurized, consider recycling it. Cintas at 15533 W. 100th Ter. will recycle extinguishers for a small fee. No appointment is necessary.

Published Feb. 7, 2024