Fire Extinguisher

There are several types of fire extinguishers and ways to dispose of them. Follow the instructions below or contact the solid waste district at: 413-772-2438 (MA Relay for the hearing impaired: 711 or 1-800-439-2370 TTY/TDD) or by email.

Read the label on the fire extinguisher before you continue. If it contains carbon tetrachloride you must save it for our household hazardous waste collection. This chemical is a known carcinogen. Do not discharge or dispose of with your trash. If you have a carbon dioxide (CO2) fire extinguisher it could be under extreme pressure. You should contact your local fire department or call the solid waste district for assistance.

For other types of extinguishers: If the fire extinguisher is discharged or has lost all pressure, use tools to unscrew the valve from the base. Wear a dust mask or respirator and goggles and work outdoors. Slowly pour the powder inside the base into a trash bag. Avoid making a cloud of dust from the contents. The powder is not toxic but should not be breathed. The powder and the valve can be disposed of as trash. The metal base can be recycled with scrap metal.

If the fire extinguisher has some pressure remaining you can discharge it in an area where an acidic fertilizer would be used, such as around evergreens. Do not use on lawns. When relieving the pressure (emptying) the container for disposal, review manufacturers' instructions, or, if unavailable, use the PASS technique:

  • Pull the pin: this unlocks the operating lever and allows you to discharge the extinguisher. Some extinguishers may have other seals or tamper indicators.
  • Aim low: Point the extinguisher nozzle (or hose) at the base of the item.
  • Squeeze the lever above the handle: this discharges the extinguishing agent. Releasing the lever will stop the discharge. (Some extinguishers have a button instead of a lever.)
  • Sweep from side to side.

The powder and the valve can be disposed of as trash. The metal base can be recycled with scrap metal.

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