Fire Extinguishers
A portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives; but portable extinguishers have limitations. Because fire grows and spreads so rapidly, the number one priority for residents is to get out safely.

Safety Tips

  • Use a portable fire extinguisher when the fire is confined to a small area, such as a wastebasket, and is not growing; everyone has exited the building; the fire department has been called or is being called; and the room is not filled with smoke.
  • To operate a fire extinguisher, remember the word PASS:
    P Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you, and release the locking mechanism.
    A Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
    S Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly
    S Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.
  • For the home, select a multi-purpose extinguisher (can be used on all types of home fires) that is large enough to put out a small fire, but not so heavy as difficult to handle.
  • Choose a fire extinguisher that carries the label of an independent testing laboratory.
  • Read the instructions that come with the fire extinguisher and become familiar with its parts and operation before a fire breaks out. Local fire departments or fire equipment distributors often offer hands-on fire extinguisher training's.
  • Install fire extinguishers close to an exit and keep your back to a clear exit when you use the device so you can make an easy escape if the fire cannot be controlled. If the room fills with smoke, leave immediately.
  • Know when to go. Fire extinguishers are one element of a fire response plan, but the primary element is safe escape. Every household should have a home fire escape plan and working smoke alarms.



In 2012, the City of Birmingham and the Birmingham Fire Department made the Knox-Box System available for individual residents.  The Knox-Box System allows the fire department when dispatched to your home, to gain entry without causing damage.

A Knox-Box is a small safe that attaches to the outside of your house in a location accessible to the firefighter/paramedics.  Entry keys and other pertinent information may be placed in the lock box for fire department use.  The fire department has the only master key to open the lock box, and the master key is specific to the City of Birmingham.  After providing the services needed to you or your family, your home can be locked and secured using your key rather than boarding up broken windows or doors because the fire department had to force entry.  This allows a faster, more efficient response, with quicker scene evaluation by the fire department.  All of that can lead to better outcomes when you are dealing with emergencies where seconds can make a difference.

A Knox Box is recommended for residents with serious health problems or residents whose homes are protected by a fire alarm system or suppression system.   In short, if you can foresee that there is a good chance you will need assistance from the Fire Department anytime soon, then you should consider a Knox Box.

Residents interested in the Knox-Box Entry System for their homes can fill out a Knox Box Application and Knox Box Waiver.  For additional information contact the Birmingham Fire Department Knox Box phone line at (248) 530-1923 for further information.