Fire Extinguishers

A fire extinguisher is a first attack tool for use in the early stages of a fire. It should only be used by someone who:

  • Is confident in the use of the extinguisher
  • Knows what is on fire and how large the fire is
  • Is physically able to use the extinguisher
  • Has ensured that the Fire Service has been called on 000

The safest and most efficient way to extinguish a contained cooking fire (in the pan) is by using a fire blanket. (Please see Home Fire Safety Information Sheet "Fire Blankets".)


The recommended type of fire extinguisher for most domestic situations is a dry powder type with a minimum rating of 5B:E. This type of extinguisher is suitable for fires involving cooking oils and fats as well as electrical fires.


A one kilogram (1kg) dry powder extinguisher is recommended for domestic use. If the fire can not be extinguished using a 1kg extinguisher it is too large and you should evacuate.


The extinguisher should be mounted near the entrance or exit to the kitchen, as kitchens are where most domestic fires occur.


At least every six months remove the extinguisher from its mounting bracket and shake it to ensure that the powder within has not compacted.

Check that the pressure gauge is reading in the green zone to ensure that there is ample gas propellant to make the extinguisher work.

Check for any other visible damage. Replace the extinguisher if you have any concerns.


Familiarise yourself with the instructions on the fire extinguisher every time you examine it. An emergency is not the time to read extinguisher instructions.

Know how to use the fire extinguisher.

  1. Raise the alarm, summon help and have someone call the fire service on '000'.
  2. Keep your escape path at your back. Never allow the fire to get between you and the escape path.
  3. Remember the acronym PASS

P =

Pull   the pin

A =

Aim   the extinguisher nozzle at the base of flames

S =

Squeeze   the trigger while holding the extinguisher upright

S =

Sweep   the extinguisher or nozzle from side to side covering the base of the fire.
  1. Observe the fire after the initial extinguishment. It may re-ignite.
  2. The contents of small extinguishers may last as little as eight seconds and up to 60 seconds for larger extinguishers. The time to discharge an extinguisher depends on the type and size of the extinguisher.

Do not use (or continue to use) an extinguisher if:

  • the fire is larger than a waste paper basket
  • the fire is spreading quickly beyond the point of origin
  • the extinguisher is not having any effect or is having an adverse reaction on the fire
  • you are putting your life at risk
  • you cannot extinguish the fire quickly (less than 30 sec)
  • you do not know what fuels are involved in the fire.

If any of the above circumstances apply then you should:

  • Close the door to contain the fire
  • Ensure everyone is out of the building
  • Ring the fire service on '000' from a phone outside of the building
  • Never go back into the building once out
  • Wait to meet the fire service.

Remember - Saving lives through a quick escape is far more important than saving property. The first priority must be evacuation and calling the fire service on 000.

Download the Domestic Fire Extinguishers information sheet which includes an identification chart.


For further advice ring the Community Safety and Resilience Department 8204 3611 
Country callers 1300 767 637