Portable fire extinguishers are designed to help control small fires that may break out in a home, business, school or other setting. From an errant fireplace spark to an overturned candle, knowing how to properly way to use a fire extinguisher is essential and can help prevent the spread of the fire and fire damage.
When to Use a Fire Extinguisher
Many small fires can be controlled and doused with the right portable fire extinguisher. Only use the fire extinguisher if it's the right one for the fire. Remember, a Class A air-pressurized water (AWP) fire extinguisher can only be used on paper/wood/trash fires. Never use it on a grease or electrical fire. Only attempt to use a fire extinguisher if you are not in any imminent danger. Never allow smoke, heat or fire to cut off your evacuation path.
Steps for Using a Fire Extinguisher
Sound the fire alarm and call 911/fire department if appropriate. Have others in the room/building evacuate as needed and identify your own escape path.
Identify the type of fire and select appropriate the fire extinguisher. All homes should be equipped with a standard ABC fire extinguisher. This model can be used to douse Class A (wood/paper/trash), Class B (flammable liquids) and Class C (electrical) fires. A Class D fire extinguisher is needed for combustible metals. All commercial kitchens should have a Class K fire extinguisher to specifically fight any deep fryer (cooking oils/fats) fires.
Quickly inspect the fire extinguisher before using. Read the manufacturer's instructions and warnings, check that the pressure gauge needle is in the green, check for cracks along the hose and make sure the nozzle isn't clogged.
Step 4: Use the P.A.S.S. acronym to discharge the fire extinguisher.
- P = Pull the pin, which also breaks the tamper seal (this is okay.)
- A = Aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire, taking aim from about six to eight feet away.
- S = Squeeze the handle to release the dousing (extinguishing) agent.
- S = Sweep the hose back and forth at the base of the fire until it appears out or until the fire extinguisher is empty.
Safety tip: If using a CO2 (carbon dioxide) extinguisher, avoid touching the plastic discharge horn as it becomes extremely cold and can harm bare skin.
If the fire extinguisher is empty and the fire is not out, evacuate immediately. If it seems like you're not gaining control of the fire by using the fire extinguisher, evacuate immediately. Never put your life in danger. After the fire has been extinguished and it's time to assess the damage, let ServiceMaster Restore help. Our professional teams are fully trained for all levels of smoke and fire damage remediation.