How to Use a Fire Extinguisher
There is always a chance of your encountering an out-of-control fire at least once in your life, so
learning how to use a fire extinguisher is an important skill to be able to resort to. This article
explains the process of using a fire extinguisher in an emergency.
Before using your potable fire extinguisher, take time to read the instruction manual before it’s
too late. Although there are many different types of fire extinguishers, all of them operate in a
A typical fire extinguisher contains 10 seconds of extinguishing power. This could be lesser if it
has already been partially discharged. Always read the instructions that come with the fire
extinguisher beforehand and become familiarized with its parts. It is highly recommended by fire
prevention experts that you get hands-on training before operating a fire extinguisher. Most local
fire departments offer this service.
Fire Extinguishers can be heavy, so it’s a good idea to practice picking up and holding an
extinguisher to get an idea of the weight and feel.
Practice releasing the discharge hose or horn and aiming it at the base of an imagined fire. Do
not pull the pin or squeeze the lever. This will break the extinguisher seal and cause it to lose
Once the fire is out, don’t walk away! Watch the area for a few minutes in case it re-ignites.
Recharge the extinguisher immediately after use.
Use this acronym as a quick reference (it is a good idea to print this reference and pin it next to
your fire extinguisher):
P A S S
Pull the Pin on top of the fire extinguisher. The pin
releases a locking mechanism and will allow you to
discharge the extinguisher.
Aim at the base of the fire. This is necessary – in order to put out the fire.
Squeeze the lever slowly. This will release the extinguishing agent in the extinguisher. If the
handle is released, the discharge will stop.
Sweep from side to side. Using a sweeping motion, move the fire extinguisher back and forth
until the fire is completely out. Operate the extinguisher from a safe distance, several feet away,
and then move towards the fire once it starts to diminish. Be sure to read the instructions on your
fire extinguisher – different fire extinguishers recommend operating them from different
distances. Remember: Aim at the base of the fire, not at the flames!!!!
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