What Is an ABC Fire Extinguisher?

Before attempting to fight a fire, you must know what is burning in order to choose the proper fire extinguisher. A Class ABC fire extinguisher can be used for multiple kinds of fires and is a good choice for household use.

What Is an ABC Fire Extinguisher?


The Class ABC fire extinguisher can be used on three different kinds of fires: Class A (ordinary combustibles such as wood or paper), Class B (flammable liquid fires such as grease or gasoline) or Class C (electrical fires).


A Class ABC fire extinguisher should be labeled clearly. If your fire extinguisher has only one letter, it is not rated for multiple types of fires. The symbols may be a green triangle with an A, a red square with a B and a blue circle with a C. More modern picture symbols may be used instead, showing a garbage can and wood (A), a gas can (B) and an electrical plug (C).


Usually a fire extinguisher that contains dry chemicals is rated for multiple kinds of fires. Extinguishers filled with water can be used only for Class A fires, while carbon dioxide extinguishers are used for Class B and Class C fires.


Use the acronym PASS to remember how to use a fire extinguisher. PULL the pin at the top. AIM it at the source of the fire, not randomly at the flames. SQUEEZE the handle to release the contents while standing at least 8 feet away. SWEEP the extinguisher in a back-and-forth motion until the fire is out.


Even after a fire is put out, it is possible for it to reignite. Pay close attention to the site of the fire to be sure it does not break out again.

It is important to pay attention to safety at all times when trying to put out a fire with a fire extinguisher. Do not attempt to put out a fire that is spreading rapidly. Always call the fire department before you try to fight a fire yourself.

Safety Tip

Be sure to look at the type of extinguisher you have before attempting to put out a fire. Using the wrong kind of fire extinguisher to put out a fire may actually cause it to spread.