Fire extinguisher

A fire extinguisher is used to put out an incipient fire that does not threaten your safety. You are strongly advised to keep a portable fire extinguisher in your home.

If the fire spreads or if there is a great deal of smoke, you must evacuate your home immediately and call 911.

Choosing a fire extinguisher

All fire extinguishers must meet Canadian standards and display the Underwriters Laboratories of Canada "ULC" logo.

Choose a multi-purpose powder extinguisher marked "ABC".

A:  extinguishes a fire caused by flammable materials such as wood, paper, or cloth.

B: extinguishes a fire caused by flammable liquids such as oil or gasoline.

C: extinguishes a fire caused by a live electrical device.

Choose a dry chemical extinguisher with a minimum rating of 2A 10B C. This rating is printed on the label.

There are single-use disposable extinguishers and rechargeable extinguishers. Disposable extinguishers have a life span of 12 years. The date is written on the bottom of the device.

Choose a lightweight model and learn how to use it by reading the manufacturer's instructions.

Installing a fire extinguisher in the home

Place it in plain view, near an exit.

It must never be placed on the floor. It must be installed on a support specially designed for the extinguisher, at least 10 centimetres (4 inches) from the floor and at a maximum of 1.5 metres (5 feet). If its weight exceeds 18 kilos (40 pounds), it may be installed 1 metre (3 feet) off the floor.

Make sure it is out of the reach of children.

Avoid placing it too close to potential fire sources such as stoves and heaters.

Place the operating instructions in plain view.

Install it within easy reach, but out of the reach of children.

Do not hang clothes or other objects on it.

Do not remove the label indicating the date of the last inspection or maintenance.

Check that the seal and handling indicator are not broken or missing.

Checking and maintenance

Every month, check that the fire extinguisher is in place and that access to it is clear.

Check that the operating instructions are visible.

Weigh it to determine if it is full.

Check for rust or damage. If the fire extinguisher shows signs of deterioration, corrosion, or leakage, or if the nozzles are clogged, it should be discarded.

Check the pressure of the extinguisher; the needle should be in the green.

Each year, have it checked by a qualified person.

If it is refillable, have it refilled every six years or as soon as it has been used, even if only for a few seconds.

How to use a fire extinguisher

  1. First, make sure you are not in danger.
  2. Remove the fire extinguisher from its holder.
  3. Hold the extinguisher in your hands to gauge its weight and make sure it is full.
  4. Check that the pressure gauge needle is in the green.
  5. Stand between the fire and an exit.
  6. Stay at least 2 to 3 metres (6 to 10 feet) away from the fire.
  7. If it is an outdoor fire, stand with your back to the wind.
  8. Pull the pin out of the seal as needed.
  9. Remove the hose from the cylinder, if there is one, and point it toward the base of the flames by pressing the lever fully down.
  10. Move from left to right at the base of the flames, covering the width of the fire.
  11. Stop only when the flames are all out or the extinguisher is empty.
  12. If the fire does not go out or if the room fills with smoke, evacuate the area and call 911.
  13. Call 911 even if the fire appears to be out. It could have spread through the walls or the kitchen range hood.
  14. If you have used a single-use extinguisher, dispose of it after use.
  15. If the extinguisher is refillable, have it filled as soon as possible.

How to dispose of a fire extinguisher

Disposable powder device
Empty it outside. Be sure to do so on a windless day. This is a great opportunity to practice. Then take it to an ecocentre where it can be recycled.

Rechargeable device older than 12 years or damaged
Never empty the device. Take it to the service provider for inspection. If the fire extinguisher is not reusable, the service provider will mark the unit as irreparable. The service provider will need your permission to destroy it. You can also return it to the manufacturer yourself.


Last update: February 23, 2023


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