In a recent study of 2100 fire incidents where fire extinguishers were present 75% were put out with the extinguisher. This is important because fire doubles in size every minute. A pot on the stove that you could put out yourself could be half the house with a longer reponse time from the FD. In a perfect world you call 911 at 1pm, The dispatcher gets it to us by 1:01, We are on the truck by 1:02, on scene by 1:04, Spraying water by 1:05. This is a best case scenario so you have that fire growing for 5 minutes when you could have put it out with a $20 Extinguisher and saved a lot of time and hardship.
What types of Fire Extinguishers are there?
The common household extingusihers you will see are 10BC, 5BC, and 1A10BC. So lets decode this real quick. The letter indicate what type of fire you have. A= ordinary combustable such as paper, couch, etc. B= Flamable liquids such as gasoline, cooking oil, etc. C= means you can spray an electrified appliance without getting ZAPPED. The number in the front indicats the size. So an "ABC" extinguisher is an all purpose home extinguisher. A "BC" extinguisher is for kitchens and garages. The reason they are different, without getting overly technical, is that while the "ABC" extinguishers will put out a kitchen fire a little bit faster but it will ruin whatever appliance you are spraying because it encapsulates whatever you are spraying and will stick to your range,vehicle, or whatever. The "BC" extinguisher will lay ontop of the range and wipe off easily.
Where do I need to have them?
Everyone's financial situation is different so I try to give levels of protection. The #1 Cause of house fires in the country is Unattended Cooking. You are making some eggs for breakfast, the kids are screaming upstairs, and you run up after you hear a terrible scream. You end up being up there for much longer than you thought and you come back down to a small fire on your stove. THIS HAPPENS EVERYDAY! Most people would put the extinguisher under the sink but the problem is the sink is normally right next to the range. The last thing you want to do is go near the fire. So you keep the kitchen extinguisher 10BC near a kitchen exit, preferably mounted on the wall, but if not in a closet that will not get moved or covered by things. That is priority #1 and if you have a small ranch house that may be all you need. However if you have multiple levels you really should have one on each level. If you have a fire upstairs from a curling iron or computer equipment the 45 seconds it takes you to run down to get your extinguisher just allowed that fire to almost double and possible get out of control. You want to have these at hand quickly which means the best case is having one on each level, one in the garage(high hazard area), and one in each vehicle. There are, on average, 152,000 Vehicle fires every year resulting in 209 death, 764 inuries, and 536 Million dollars worth of damage. Mechanical and Electrical problems were 2/3 of them. So in those 2/3 there was no accident a fire just started. How nice would it be to just put the nozzle of your extinguisher under the hood, put it out, and save a ton of trouble. There will still need to be a lot of work to be done but you could have saved a life in the vehicle, you would not lose your vehicles contents in the process and your insurance claim would be quite a bit less all because of a $20 extinguisher that lasts 12 years.