How To Use A Fire Extinguisher

Posted by Amanda Steele on Oct 1st 2023

How To Use A Fire Extinguisher

Fire safety might be something you learn about as a child, but as an adult, it's easy to forget even the basics. While you likely see fire extinguishers in commercial buildings, and hopefully have at least one in your home, you may not know what to use this device.

If you're lucky, you've never faced a fire that required a fire extinguisher, so you may have questions about how to use a fire extinguisher correctly. In this guide from ADA Central, we go over all the essentials of fire extinguisher use, including fire extinguisher maintenance and other fire safety tips.

Keep reading to learn how to keep your home or business safe from fires.

Steps For Using A Fire Extinguisher

Fire extinguishers are important to have around in your home or business. However, they aren't very useful if you don't know how to use them properly. The first thing you must do is ensure you have the right fire extinguisher. ABC extinguishing agents are recommended for use in the home. Some businesses may require a more idealized fire extinguisher, depending on the industry.

It's essential to note that you should only use a fire extinguisher if you know how to use one and feel confident in doing so. You should also not attempt to use an extinguishing agent on a large fire or in a risky situation.

With this in mind, here are the steps you should take to use portable fire extinguishers.

  1. Call for help: Before using the fire extinguishers, you should call the fire department. Even small fires can grow quickly, so it's always better to be safe.
  2. Determine an evacuation plan: After calling the fire department, you should then determine a safe way to evacuate. If things get out of hand, you should abandon the fire extinguisher and evacuate instead.
  3. Use the fire extinguisher: After you've ensured it's safe to use a fire extinguisher, you can use the PASS method for deploying the extinguishing agent. Let's review the PASS method below.

PASS Method For Fire Extinguishers

An easy way to remember how to use a fire extinguisher is by following the PASS approach. Here's how it works:

  • Pull the pin: after removing the fire extinguisher from its place in your home or building, pull the pin. This unlocks the operating lever.
  • Aim low: Point the e fire extinguisher toward the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the trigger: Once you've aimed, you can then discharge the extinguishing agent. Most fire extinguishers have a lever but some have a button.
  • Sweep the fire extinguisher from side to side: Finally, move the fire extinguisher from side to side in a sweeping motion until the fire is gone. If it starts up again, you should repeat the side-sweeping motion.

If the fire isn't going out or is nearing your evacuation path, you should leave to safety and wait until the fire department arrives. If you don't follow these steps, you could end up making the fire worse.

More Fire Extinguisher Safety Tips

Dealing with fires can be quite dangerous, so you always want to be as careful and thorough as possible. Along with following the PASS method for using fire extinguishers, you should follow a few more safety tips, such as:

  • Always keep your back to the exit so you can remove yourself quickly.
  • Ensure you are at least eight feet away from the fire before using the fire extinguisher.
  • Call the fire department no matter what. You still need them to check that the fire is completely gone.

Do You Need A Fire Extinguisher In Your Home?

While no one thinks they'll have a fire in their home, it can happen to anyone. Accidents happen, and you can't always prevent a fire. The most important fire safety equipment to have in your house is working fire alarms.

The second most important is a fire extinguisher. These can put out all kinds of fires, even grease fires and electrical fires. So, they are generally much safer to use than water. They are also generally more effective and safer to operate.

When you have a fire inside your home, start by evacuating your family and calling the fire department. Once you've done these two things, you can use a fire extinguisher to put out the fire, if it's safe to do so.

Make sure your back is to an exit so that you can leave quickly if you need to.

How Many Fire Extinguishers Do You Need In Your Business?

While it's recommended that homes have fire extinguishers, it's required for businesses and commercial buildings. To comply with OSHA, employers need to use a fire extinguisher that's approved by OSHA.

They also need to keep current with inspections and offer annual fire extinguisher training. Finally, businesses must make sure that all the extinguishers are easy to access and marked clearly with signage.

Fire Extinguisher Maintenance Tips

To keep your fire extinguisher in good shape, you should do the following things:

  • Ensure the fire extinguisher isn't blocked by any objects, furniture, or doors.
  • Check that the extinguisher is mounted away from heat sources and in a clear escape route.
  • Make sure the pressure is at the right levels.

If you’re unsure, err on the side of caution and let the firefighters handle it.

ADA-Compliant & Safety Signage

If you own or manage a commercial property, you're required to have fire extinguishers on site. They also need to be well-maintained and up to building code, so anyone in the building can use a fire extinguisher for a fire emergency.

Along with having fire extinguishers in your busing, you also need to ensure you have the correct safety signage to indicate where things like fire escapes and extinguishers are. At ADA Central, we provide a large inventory of ADA-compliant signs, custom vinyl signs, and much more.

Reach out today to learn more or check out our selection of signs for your business.