How To Use A Fire Extinguisher

Knowing how to use a fire extinguisher before the need to use one is vital as there will be no time to read the instructions in the event of a fire. Fire extinguishers are simple to learn and use correctly, but not knowing how to use one could prove fatal.

You must firstly determine the class of fire and choose the appropriate type of extinguisher to be used on that class of fire. Trying to extinguish a fire with the wrong type of extinguisher could be ineffective or make the fire worse leading to serious harm to the user.

The simplest method of learning and remembering how to use an extinguisher is to remember the acronym P.A.S.S which is detailed below.

(P) Pull out the safety pin

(A) Aim at the base of the fire

(S) Squeeze the levers

(S) Sweep from side to side

Pull The Safety Pin Out The Fire ExtinguisherPull Out The Safety Pin

Every fire extinguisher is equipped with a safety pin which is a red metal or plastic ring on the handle to stop the extinguishing agent from dispersing if the lever is pressed by mistake. It’s placed between the levers and fitted with a seal to hold the pin in place and prevent tampering. Once the pin is pulled, the seal will break, allowing the user to discharge the extinguishing agent.



Aim The Fire Extinguisher At The Base Of The Fire

Aim At The Base Of The Fire

To extinguish a fire effectively, the extinguisher hose or horn should be directed at the base of the fire. The base of the fire is the fuel source, so aiming at the flames of a fire would be ineffective as this is only made up of gas.



Squeeze The Fire Extinguisher Levers To Discharge The Agent

Squeeze The Levers

Squeezing the levers together will disperse the extinguishing agent out of the hose or horn. If the extinguisher is BS EN 3 compliant, it will be equipped with a device that allows the discharge to be stopped and started when needed.



Sweep The Fire Extinguisher Hose or Horn Side To Side

Sweep From Side To Side

Sweeping the hose or horn across the base of the fire from side to side will allow the extinguishing agent to be dispersed on the fuel source effectively.

Even though the methods above are usually how fire extinguishers work, it’s always a good idea to familiarise yourself with the types of extinguisher you have available, so you know for sure how they operate.


Fire Extinguisher Safety Information

✓ Get assistance or call 999 and ask for the fire brigade before trying to tackle a fire.

✓ Check that you have the appropriate extinguisher for the class of fire. Using the wrong fire extinguisher on a fire could be ineffective and make fire even worse, causing serious danger to yourself and others.

✓ Always keep your fire escape route clear and make sure to never let the fire get between you and your fire exit.

✓ Fire extinguishers can only do so much and are only made to extinguish small isolated fires or early stage fires. Don’t attempt to tackle a fire that’s too big to handle or widespread as this can cause serious danger to the user.

✓ Inspect the area where the fire is for anything that could pose an explosive risk such as combustible liquid containers and don’t try to tackle the fire if these are present.

✓ Activate the fire alarm and evacuate the building or area immediately if there is a huge build up of smoke. Call the fire brigade as they are trained to deal with the dangers of smoke.

✓ Fires involving gas or electric can really dangerous.  Isolate the gas or electricity supply before attempting to fight the fire. Attempting to extinguish a gas fire without disconnecting the supply creates a huge risk of an explosion.

✓ Heat and smoke rise, so keep as low to the ground as is safely possible in the event of a fire.

✓ Keep a good distance away from the fire when you first start and have your back towards the fire exit. The more the fire is extinguished, the closer you can get.

✓ If you have any doubt or see any other potential risks, evacuate and call the fire brigade for assistance.