How To Use A Fire Extinguisher

In moments of crisis, knowing how to effectively use a fire extinguisher is vital. Understanding the proper procedures allows individuals to act swiftly and decisively in the face of an emergency. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the essential steps of how and when to use one, who should operate one, and ensure you’re equipped with the knowledge to safeguard lives and property.

Step 1: Assess the Situation  

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. If the fire is large, spreading quickly, or emitting toxic smoke, evacuate the area immediately and alert emergency services.

Who Should Use a Fire Extinguisher?

In an ideal scenario, all individuals who use a fire extinguisher should have received proper training. Workplace fire safety training courses are essential, so ensuring that at least one person in each workplace is trained is highly important.


At 1st Attendance, we offer a range of Fire Safety Training Courses designed to teach the correct procedures for fire extinguisher use.

Step 2: Select The Correct Fire Extinguisher 

Fire extinguishers come in various classes designed to combat specific types of fires, but which one should you use? Selecting the appropriate type is paramount as using the wrong type can worsen the situation. For example, using a water extinguisher on an electrical fire can lead to electrocution due to conductivity.

The label on the extinguisher will indicate the suitable fire classes it can extinguish. The most common classification system in the UK includes:

Class A: Water
Red Label – Ordinary combustibles (wood, paper, cloth)

Class B: Dry Powder
Blue Label – Flammable liquids (gasoline, oil, grease)

Class C: Foam
Cream Label – Electrical fires

Class D: CO2
Black Label – Combustible metals

Class K: Wet Chemical
Yellow Label – Cooking oils and fats

To learn more please see our workplace Fire Extinguisher Training Course.  

Step 3: Extinguish Using The PASS Method

Once you’ve confirmed that you have the right fire extinguisher and it’s safe to proceed, follow the PASS Method:


PULL – Stand a safe distance from the fire and pull the pin to release the locking mechanism.

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 side to side at the base of the fire until it’s empty or the fire is completely extinguished with no risk of reignition.

Step 4: Approach the Fire Safely

Approach the fire cautiously, keeping a safe distance to avoid exposure to heat and smoke. Stand with your back to the nearest exit to ensure a clear path for evacuation if the fire becomes uncontrollable.

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.

Understanding how to use a fire extinguisher correctly can be lifesaving 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. By following the steps outlined in this guide you’ll be well-equipped to tackle small fires effectively and contribute to a safer environment for yourself and those around you.

If you would like more information or to arrange workplace fire safety training, please get in touch.