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News Review
Smoke Alarms and Fire Extinguishers… They Go Hand In Hand.
Posted Date: 2/5/2014

John Valenzuela
Public Information Officer
City of Tempe
(480) 858-7257

Smoke alarms sense smoke long before fire has had time to spread. And used properly, a portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives.

Smoke Alarms
Fire, smoke and toxic gases move swiftly and silently through a home, reducing visibility and your ability to escape safely. Every home needs a device that can wake people up in time to escape. Install at least one working smoke alarm outside each sleeping area and one on each level of the home. Smoke alarms are not recommended for kitchens because of false alarms from cooking vapors, garages where automobile exhaust might cause false alarm, attics or other unheated spaces where extremes of temperature or humidity might affect their operation.

Because smoke rises, each alarm should be mounted high on a wall or on the ceiling to detect traces of smoke. Wall mounted alarms should be no less than four inches or nor more than 12 inches from the ceiling. Ceiling mounted detectors should be at least four inches from a wall. Smoke alarms should not be mounted near air vents.

When purchasing a smoke alarm, be sure it has the label of an independent testing lab. It's recommended to have a combination ionization/photoelectric smoke alarm. It is extremely important to test and clean all detectors monthly and you should never paint over your smoke alarm. Replace the batteries at least once a year if the alarm is battery operated, and smoke alarms need to be replaced every ten years.

Fire Extinguishers
There are three basic classes of fires: Class A, Class B, and Class C. All fire extinguishers are labeled using standard symbols for the classes of fires they put out. A slash through any of the symbols tells you the extinguisher cannot be used on that class of fire. Portable fire extinguishers are also rated for the size of fire they can handle. The larger the numbers, the larger amount of fire that the extinguisher can put out, but also the heavier they become. Make sure you can hold and operate an extinguisher before you buy it. Multipurpose fire extinguishers labeled ABC can be used on all three classes of fire.

It is extremely important that you learn how to correctly use your extinguisher. The instructions are displayed on the extinguisher so take time to read over these several times a year to remain familiar with them. While trying to extinguish a fire with a fire extinguisher, always keep your back to an unobstructed exit, stand six to eight feet away from the fire and remember the PASS-word........PULL the pin, AIM at the base of the fire, SQUEEZE, and SWEEP from side to side.

Remember, a small fire can quickly become a large one. The first step in fighting a fire of any size is to call 9-1-1. If the fire is bigger than you are don't try to put it out, go outside immediately. For more information visit

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