How and to Use a Fire Extinguisher Properly

The invention of fire did so much for the development of our society and continues to prove its worth to this day. Of all the glory fire brings us, it also presents a wide amount of danger to you, your family, and your home. Preparation and awareness are key when managing any fire.

Whether you own a home or a business, you should always have a fire extinguisher — or several, if required — nearby. Not only that, but your fire extinguisher should be inspected or replaced yearly to ensure it works properly, in the event of a fire.

Fire extinguishers are extremely important to limiting fire damage Sarasota residents face when a fire breaks out. Unfortunately, most people have never had to use one, some people were never even taught how to use one, and others have no idea when you’re supposed to use one.

So, when should you use a fire extinguisher?

Fires can get out of hand quickly. While everyone dreams of being the hero in these types of situations, ensuring you and your family are safe is the top priority. That’s why evacuation is always the best option, especially when the fire starts to spread throughout the home.

With that being said, fire extinguishers are more for situational use and shouldn’t be viewed as a fix-all solution to every fire. According to Underwriter Laboratories, there are five considerations that must be met before using a fire extinguisher:

  1. You’re dealing with a small fire that isn’t spreading.
  2. You’re aware of how to use a fire extinguisher, which we’ll discuss below.
  3. Your family has already evacuated and you have a safe way out if your efforts don’t work.
  4. You or one of your family members has already called the fire department and they’re on the way.
  5. Smoke hasn’t filled the room, your back is to the exit, and the fire isn’t in the way of your escape.

If those five conditions are met, a fire extinguisher can be an effective way of limiting the spread and even eliminating the threat entirely. Just make sure the fire extinguisher works before you attempt anything. It’s not something you want to learn in the heat of the moment, especially when time is of the essence.

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher Properly

Knowing when to use a fire extinguisher is something everyone should understand, but you also need to know how to use a fire extinguisher. Like we mentioned above, time is of the essence when dealing with a fire. You won’t have time to learn how to use it once the fire already breaks out.

The good news is all fire extinguishers are designed to work the same. Better yet, there’s a simple acronym you can remember when using a fire extinguisher — P.A.S.S. Let’s take a closer look:

  1. Pull – before you can discharge the extinguishing agent, you must first pull the pin at the top of the extinguisher. This will release the locking mechanism.
  2. Aim – when extinguishing a fire, it’s important you aim the nozzle at the base of the fire. Aiming at the flames will cause them to blow around and spread.
  3. Squeeze – with the pin pulled and the hose properly aimed at the fire, slowly squeeze the lever to release the extinguishing agent.
  4. Sweep – once you extinguish the base of the flame, sweep the nozzle from side to side to fully extinguish the surrounding area. Make sure it’s out before letting your guard down.

As tempting as it might be, you should never practice using a fire extinguisher without a fire. You can get comfortable aiming the hose and become familiar with the location of the pin, but you should never pull or squeeze anything unless there’s a fire.

Don’t worry, you’ll be well-prepared to use a fire extinguisher if you can remember the PASS acronym.


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