How Do You Use A Fire Extinguisher?

How do you use a fire extinguisher? When using a fire extinguisher, follow the PASS system. Most fire extinguishers are fairly similar in how they are used even though they come in many shapes and sizes...

Most fire extinguishers are fairly similar in how they are used even though they come in many shapes and sizes with various ratings. Heather Caldwell is the communications manager for Kidde, the world's largest manufacturer of fire safety equipment. She says, "You should read the instructions that are on the label of the fire extinguisher. Then, you know how to use it before a fire starts. Many people don't take the fire extinguisher out of the box."


Owning a fire extinguisher is good, but knowing how to use it is just as important. It won't help you if you can't operate it. Caldwell adds, "To use the fire extinguisher, just remember the PASS system. That stands for pull, aim, squeeze, and sweep - pull the pin, aim the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire, squeeze the handle, and sweep at the base of the fire from side to side." It is also a good idea to "PASS" on this information to others.




Make sure to maintain a safe distance of at least several feet away when using the extinguisher and move forward slightly as the fire dissipates to prevent injury. Different fire extinguishers may recommended different distances for optimal effectiveness of use.

An average fire extinguisher will contain enough materials to be full discharged within about 10 seconds if the unit is full and ready to use. If the unit has been partially discharged, it may emit lower levels of the agents in a shorter time frame.

It is a good idea to have a safety drill and to practice use of a fire extinguisher by simulating what to do in an actual emergency. There is no need to actually pull the pin and discharge the contents of an extinguisher in a practice drill as long as you know the proper procedures to follow. This type of drill will let you go through the steps and feel what it is like to hold and operate a fire extinguisher so you are familiar with what to do if an emergency does happen. It is also a good idea to outline escape routes from your home and a central meeting location outside.

Regular monthly inspections of fire extinguishers are a good idea to make sure the devices are free from obstructions, easy to access, and in good working order. If an extinguisher has been used, damaged, or is missing, make sure it is repaired or replaced immediately.

Research your fire extinguisher options and purchase one as soon as possible if your home is not already equipped with one. There are several classifications and ratings for fire extinguishers. Every extinguisher is not to be used on every type of fire. Class A extinguishers are for use with combustible fires like those involving wood, paper, and plastics. Class B extinguishers are for use on fires involving flammable liquids like gasoline, kerosene, paint thinners, or other chemical solvents. Class C extinguishers are designed for use on electrical fires. There are several multipurpose extinguishers on the market that are great for use in most homes. You will want to have one on each level and near the kitchen and bedrooms.

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