How to use a fire extinguisher

Portable fire extinguishers can be a very effective tools only if you read, understand, and follow all safety guidelines for their use.

Its important to remember is that fire extinguishers have limits. They are great for small fires and for containing some fires until help arrives, but are not designed for large spreading fires. Everyone who plans to use a fire extinguisher must understand the manufacturerâ??s instructions concerning storing , maintaining, and using extinguishers.

Most fires, in the beginning stage, can be extinguished easily with portable equipment, but only if the equipment is readily accessible and the user knows how to use it. The reaction time, from when the fire is first realised, is extremely important. If time is wasted in a search for the proper fire extinguisher and a review of the operating instructions, a small, easily controlled fire will spread in size and intensity. The fire will get out of control and both lives and equipment may be endangered.

Use this acronym (PASS) as a quick reference;

  1. Pull the Pin at the top of the extinguisher.
    The pin releases a locking mechanism and will allow you to discharge the extinguisher.
  2. Aim at the base of the fire, not the flames.
    This is important - in order to put out the fire, you must extinguish the fuel.
  3. Squeeze the lever slowly.
    This will release the extinguishing agent in the extinguisher. If the handle is released, the discharge will stop.
  4. 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!!!!

A typical dry-chemical-powder fire extinguisher contains 10 seconds of extinguishing power. This could be less 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.

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.