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How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Posted on: September 30, 2010

Knowing how to properly use a fire extinguisher is as important as simply owning one in the first place. Every fire extinguisher has instructions written on the side, but in an emergency, having to read them to know what to do can cost valuable seconds and potentially cost you your home or business. Most New Jersey, Delaware and Philadelphia businesses require their employees to take a fire safety course, which includes instruction on proper use of fire extinguishers as well as instruction on the best ways to evacuate the building. Usually, these classes are provided by the local fire department.

Basics of fire extinguisher use

Before you begin training with your fire extinguisher, take note of what type of fire extinguisher it is. Some fire extinguishers are only appropriate for certain types of fires and having the right type is crucial toward ensuring your safety. For example, water should never be used to douse electrical fires or fires from flammable liquids – water that is used on electrical fires could cause electrocution, and water that is used on flammable liquids could do nothing but spread the fire around. Although there are many different types of fire extinguisher, you don’t have to worry about learning each one. Though they may be filled with different extinguishants, all handheld fire extinguishers operate the in a very similar way.

When you are ready to begin using your fire extinguisher, just remember: P.A.S.S.

  • P – Pull the pin at the top of the fire extinguisher. This releases the lock and allows you to discharge the extinguishant.
  • A – Aim at the base of the fire. Make sure you aim your fire extinguisher at the base of the fire instead of the flames so that you don’t risk blowing them around and causing the fire to spread.
  • S – Squeeze the lever slowly. This will release the extinguishant from your fire extinguisher. The extinguishant will stop flowing as soon as the handle is released.
  • S – Sweep from side to side, covering up all areas of the fire’s source with the extinguishant until the fire is completely doused (remember: aim at the base, not the flames!). Make sure you start a safe distance away from the source of the fire (most fire extinguishers have a range of more than 10 feet) and work your way in until the fire has been completely extinguished. Wait a few seconds after it gone to make sure it doesn’t reignite.

Typical fire extinguishers provide about 10 seconds of extinguishing power when they are fully charged. Therefore, it is important to know exactly how to use your fire extinguisher so that you don’t waste any of the precious extinguishing agent. Be sure to recharge your fire extinguisher after each use so it is ready to protect you again.

If you own a business in New Jersey, Delaware or Philadelphia and want to receive fire extinguisher training, inspection, testing or recharging, contact Confires Fire Protection today!

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