How to Use a Fire Extinguisher Safely: A Step-By-Step Guide

September 19, 2023

Fires are unpredictable and potentially devastating, but with the right knowledge and equipment, we can minimize their impact. One crucial tool in fire safety is the portable fire extinguisher. Knowing how to use a fire extinguisher effectively can be the difference between a minor incident and a major disaster. In this blog, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to use a fire extinguisher safely.

Step 1: Assess the Situation

Before attempting to use a fire extinguisher, quickly assess the fire to ensure it is safe for you to tackle. Then, if the fire is spreading rapidly, the flames are too large, or if it is an electrical fire, evacuate the area immediately and call the emergency services. Your safety is the top priority, and fire extinguishing should only be attempted when it is small and contained.

Step 2: Choose the Right Fire Extinguisher

Fire extinguishers are designed to combat specific types of fires. There are four primary types:

  1. Class A: For fires involving ordinary combustibles like wood, paper, cloth, and some plastics.
  2. Class B: Suitable for fires caused by flammable liquids like gasoline, oil, and grease.
  3. Class C: Used for fires involving electrical equipment and appliances.
  4. Class D: Designed for fires fueled by flammable metals like magnesium and lithium (rare in household settings).

Ensure you have the right type of fire extinguisher for the specific fire you are dealing with.

Step 3: Remember PASS Technique

Using a fire extinguisher effectively follows the PASS technique:

  1. Pull: Pull the pin on the fire extinguisher to break the tamper seal and allow it to be discharged.
  2. Aim: Aim the nozzle or hose of the extinguisher at the base of the fire. This is crucial, as targeting the base starves the fire of its fuel source.
  3. Squeeze: Squeeze the handle to release the extinguishing agent. Make sure to use it efficiently as most extinguishers have a limited discharge time.
  4. Sweep: Sweep the extinguisher from side to side to cover the entire base of the fire until it is entirely out. Continue to monitor the area for re-ignition.

Here’s a video that will demonstrate how to implement the P.A.S.S. method.

Step 4: Stand at a Safe Distance

Maintain a safe distance from the fire, typically around 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 meters), while operating it. Standing too close to the fire could expose you to excessive heat and smoke, risking your safety.

Step 5: Evacuate if Necessary

Additionally, If the fire does not diminish after using the extinguisher or if it starts to grow rapidly, evacuate the area immediately. You should never put yourself in harm’s way when dealing with a fire, and always prioritize your safety and the safety of others.

Step 6: Call Emergency Services

If you manage to extinguish the fire successfully, it is crucial to then call the emergency services and report the incident. Overall, fires have the potential to rekindle, and professionals need to ensure the area is safe and free from potential hazards.

Step 7: Recharge or Replace the Extinguisher

After using the extinguisher, it has to be recharged or replaced immediately. Do not leave an empty or partially used extinguisher unattended, as it will not be effective in case of another emergency.

In conclusion, knowing how to use a fire extinguisher is essential for everyone concerned about fire safety. Remember the PASS technique, choose the appropriate extinguisher for the fire type, and prioritize your safety at all times. Lastly, staying prepared and acting swiftly can help prevent small fires from escalating into catastrophic events. Stay safe and compliant!