How to use a fire extinguisher

Knowing how to use a fire extinguisher is vital in case of an emergency. Fire extinguishers are widely available firefighting tools, commonly found in public places and workplaces to combat fires. 


In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of using a fire extinguisher properly, including when to use one and who should operate it.


When to Use a Fire Extinguisher


Before using a fire extinguisher to combat a fire, ensure that a fire alarm has been activated, and an evacuation plan with a safe route is in place. Fire extinguishers are most effective when dealing with small fires in their early stages. However, it’s crucial to assess whether you can extinguish the fire safely without putting yourself or others at risk.


Who Should Use a Fire Extinguisher?


Only individuals who have received proper training should use a fire extinguisher. Workplace fire safety training courses are essential, ensuring that at least one person in each workplace is trained in its use. Untrained individuals should never attempt to operate a fire extinguisher.


1st Attendance offers a range of Fire Safety Training Courses to teach correct usage.


Using the Right Type of Fire Extinguisher


Selecting the appropriate type of fire extinguisher is paramount. Different extinguishers are designed for various classes of fires, and using the wrong type can worsen the situation. For example, using a water extinguisher on an electrical fire can lead to electrocution due to water conducting electricity. Refer to our guide on fire extinguisher types for more information.


How to Use a Fire Extinguisher


Once you’ve confirmed that you have the right fire extinguisher and it’s safe to proceed, follow these steps. Remember, only trained individuals should use fire extinguishers:

The PASS Method


PULL – Stand a safe distance from the fire and pull the pin to break the seal.


AIM – Point the nozzle towards the base of the fire, aiming low. (If using a CO2 extinguisher, avoid touching the nozzle as it becomes cold and may cause skin damage.)


SQUEEZE – Squeeze the handle to release the extinguishing agent.


SWEEP – Sweep the extinguisher sideways back and forth at the base of the fire until it’s empty or the fire is completely extinguished with no risk of reignition.


How to use a fire extinguisher infographic

What To Do If the Fire Persists

If the fire persists even after using an extinguisher, it’s time to evacuate the area and let emergency services handle it. Evacuate using your predetermined route, ensuring all doors are closed to prevent the fire from spreading further.

In summary, understanding how to use a fire extinguisher properly can be a lifesaving skill in an emergency. Ensure that you are trained, choose the right extinguisher for the type of fire, and follow the PASS method for safe and effective fire suppression. In case the fire isn’t extinguished, prioritise your safety and evacuate while closing doors behind you.