Portable Fire Extinguishers: Your First Defense Against Fire

Posted by Commercial Fire Blog Team on May 11, 2021



Never underestimate the amount of time you have to extinguish or retreat from fire. In a building, fire can spread at an alarming rate—in just thirty seconds it can become unmanageable, threatening life, limb, and property. As a matter of fact, fire can emit toxic smoke in just one minute, reach 600° within three minutes, and engulf an entire floor or building in about five minutes (depending on the size of the building or floor).1

The first few seconds of a fire can mean the difference between preservation of life and property or the loss of both. Ninety-three percent of deaths and ninety-five percent of property damage occurs once the fire has progressed beyond the early stage. When a portable fire extinguisher is used within the first two minutes, ninety-four percent of fires are completely extinguished. Let’s take a look at all of the benefits Portable Fire Extinguishers offer.


They Reduce Fatalities, Injuries, and Property Damage

When portable fire extinguishers are used, at the onset of a fire, evidence shows that they’re highly effective at extinguishing the flames. This success rate translates into fewer injuries, less property damage, and more importantly, a reduction in fatalities.


They’re Fast, Easy, and Safe to Use

A typical five-pound portable fire extinguisher takes as little as fifteen seconds to discharge. When used correctly, those fifteen seconds are sufficient to put out a fire in its early stages. Another advantage to this quick discharge time is that it allows the user, and others, to vacate the area, should the fire persist. Operating a portable fire extinguisher is simple, too. Following the P.A.S.S. System—Point, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep—ensures safe, successful operation by virtually anyone. But again, portable fire extinguishers should only be used on small developing fires—never large, growing or out-of-control blazes.


They’re Inexpensive Overall
According to the Fire Equipment Manufacturers Association (FEMA), the current cost for portable fire extinguishers, in commercial properties, is less than one cent per square foot. This information is based on a study by Richard Bukowski, at RJA (formerly of NIST), which suggests that the total lifecycle cost of a portable fire extinguisher can range from one-half cent to under four cents per square foot, per year. His calculations include all the costs associated with buying and maintaining these units throughout their serviceable lifetime. That makes portable fire extinguishers one of the best values, for effective preventative measures, in fire protection today.



Fire Safety is everyone’s responsibility. And as the first defense against its potential for devastating consequences, portable fire extinguishers top the list. As a matter of fact, ninety-four percent of fires are extinguished in the first two minutes, when a portable fire extinguisher is used. That’s why so many fire safety agencies and advocates promote portable fire extinguishers as an essential part of any fire protection plan.



1Source, https://skysaver.com/blog/how-fires-spread-in-tall-buildings-skysaver-blog/, reviewed April 13, 2021.

Topics: Fire Extinguishers