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The Best Fire Extinguishers
When you have only seconds to put out a kitchen fire, you want an extinguisher that’s easy to use and effective. We were shocked at how many aren’t.
We followed steps on manufacturer Kidde's website to return a copy of the recalled former winning fire extinguisher, the Kidde model FA110, and promptly received a replacement. The replacement, which has the same model number as the recalled model, has a metal nozzle and handle instead of plastic. We also bought additional copies of the replacement model at a retail store, and we tested the updated model by putting out fires. We found it quick, easy, and intuitive to use; it contained plenty of flame-suppressing material, and quickly extinguished flames with a responsive, easily focused spray. We now return to highly recommending this extinguisher.Update: November 2017: Kidde has issued a recall of all of its fire extinguishers with plastic handles, including our winning model FA110 (or FA110G) and the not recommended model RESSP. If you have purchased either model, go to Kidde.com and select Product Safety Recall Notice for more information, or call the Kidde Customer Support Line at 855-271-0773 from 8:30am-5pm ET weekdays and 9am-3pm ET weekends to request a free replacement fire extinguisher (it will be a different model) and for instructions on returning the recalled unit, as it may not work properly in a fire emergency. We recommend our second and third place models, the First Alert Tundra spray and the Amerex 2.5 Lb ABC Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher. While both had minor ease-of-use issues, we found both effective at putting out fires.
What You Need To Know
Unattended cooking is the primary source of fire-related injuries and household fires in America; more than $1.1 billion in property damages are claimed each year. Neglecting a pan of hot oil or leaving a dish towel too close to a burner are all-too-easy ways to find yourself suddenly facing fire. And fire spreads fast—experts say you have less than 2 minutes before a fire will be out of control.
That’s why it’s wise to always keep a fire extinguisher within easy reach of your stove. But the big trouble with most fire extinguishers is that you can’t practice with them or give them a test run in the store; once the trigger punctures the pressurized canister, they can’t be used a second time. So how do you know which one is the best for the job—one that will be absolutely easy to use, even with no prior experience, and will work fast when seconds count?
To find out, we bought eight models of home fire extinguishers and drove to a firefighter training facility west of Boston to test them on staged cooking-related fires. Under the supervision of Deputy Chief John F. Sullivan and Captain Robert Hassett of the Worcester Fire Department, we set up shop in the department’s “burn building,” a blackened concrete structure behind the fire station. With a stack of 10-inch skillets, a dozen cotton dish towels, portable electric burners, and a jug of vegetable oil, we set a series of typical kitchen fires and went about trying to put them out.
Choose Your Weapon
The fire extinguisher market offers a bewildering array of products designed to combat specific types of fires, whether they start in a restaurant deep fryer, in a tractor-trailer, or on a boat. For home cooks, the choice is a little simpler. In this category, fire extinguishers break down into two main types. Those with an “ABC” rating are known as “multipurpose” extinguishers, meaning they can tackle (A) cloth, wood, and paper; (B) flammable liquids and gases, such as grease and gasoline; and (C) electrical fires. “BC”-rated extinguishers cover only the latter two categories. Both types work similarly: When you squeeze the trigger, a chamber inside the pressurized canister is punctured and a spray of fire-suppressing material is propelled. (For more information, see “How to Use a Fire Extinguisher.”) For our testing, we chose two ABC and two BC models. The ability to extinguish cloth fires (dish towels, potholders, etc.) is a priority, but BC extinguishers are often sold as “kitchen” extinguishers, which implies that they are still up to the task. Plus, a BC extinguisher took first place in our previous testing. We stuck with the smallest size since bigger isn’t better—you want ...
Everything We Tested
Reviews you can trust
Reviews you can trust
The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.