Safety Center

What Types of Fire Extinguishers Should I Have in My Home?

Attempting to put out a fire using water can be ineffective or even cause more damage – especially if the cause of the fire is grease. A fire extinguisher will better prepare you for a sudden fire in your home.

Types of fire extinguishers

Each type of fire extinguisher contains a different agent used to put out flames.

  • Class A – for standard combustible materials such as cloth, wood, and paper

  • Class B – for flammable liquids such as oil, grease, paint, and solvents

  • Class C – for electrical fires such as electrical panel or wiring

  • Class D – for flammable metals such as aluminum, magnesium, and sodium

  • Class K – for cooking appliances and cooking oil

Many fire extinguishers serve multiple purposes, coming under several class brackets. For example, you might see extinguisher models labeled AB, BC, or ABC.

Portable extinguishers vs. non-rechargeable extinguishers

  • Non-rechargeable – can only be used once.
  • Portable – can be refilled after use.

What Is a standard size fire extinguisher?

There isn't a "one size fits all" for home fire extinguishers. The best size for home use is between 5 and 10 pounds since a home fire extinguisher should be light and easy to handle.

How many fire extinguishers do I need?

Have at least one for each floor of your home (including your basement and attic). Front and rear exits are ideal and in the hallway near the bedrooms. It's also a good idea to keep one in the kitchen, where most home fires begin.

How to use a fire extinguisher

  • Pull – the pin, which will break the tamper-proof seal
  • Aim – the extinguisher low, with the nozzle at the base of the fire
  • Squeeze – the handle to release the extinguishing substance
  • Sweep – the nozzle side-to-side and aim at the bottom of the fire until it is out

What is the shelf life of a fire extinguisher?

Most extinguishers have expiration dates and pressure gauges to let you know when it needs to be serviced or replaced. Check your extinguishers every month to ensure they are in working order.

What to check:

  • Look for any cracks or splits in the nozzle, hose, gauge, or metal, which could indicate the extinguisher pressure has dropped and it might not work

  • If the safety pin is missing, someone may have used the extinguisher

  • If the handle or hose is loose — or any part of the inside of the device is moving — have it professionally serviced or replaced

  • If the expiration tag is missing or you can't read the label, get it serviced or replaced

  • If the extinguisher canister is dented or rusted, replace it

  • Consider also having a fire blanket, which is lighter and easier to use than an extinguisher

Fire extinguishers are an effective way to subdue a home fire. However, it would help if you prioritized getting all household members to safety before attempting to put out a house fire. If you cannot control the fire using your extinguisher, get out, and contact emergency personnel.

NJM Insurance Group’s Commitment to Safety

NJM’s enduring commitment to safety can be traced back to our earliest days — with a focus that has expanded from improving conditions in manufacturing facilities to helping keep customers safe on the roads and at home. NJM is a leader in personal and commercial auto, homeowners, and workers’ compensation insurance.

Our Safety Center pages are filled with tips related to the safety and maintenance of your home and autos. The information contained in these articles should not be construed as professional advice, and is not intended to replace official sources. Other resources linked from these pages are maintained by independent providers; therefore, NJM cannot guarantee their accuracy.