How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

The most important thing to remember if you discover a fire is to remain calm, think logically and raise the alarm. Fire can spread very quickly and you should never underestimate it. You should only attempt to tackle a fire yourself; if you are sure you can do this safely. If in doubt – it’s best to get out, stay out, call 999 and leave it to the professionals.

Fire extinguishers are your first line of defence in the event of a fire, but you first you need to make sure you are using the correct type of extinguisher for the fire. Using the wrong type can be dangerous and risk making the fire worse. Check the pictogram instructions on the front if you are not sure which types of fires your extinguisher is suitable for.

Before you start, check the extinguisher for any signs of visible damage. Ensure the seal has not been broken and on ones where there is a pressure gauge located near the handle, it should be in the green. This means that the fire extinguisher is charged up and ready to use.

If the extinguisher passes all these checks then it is safe to use. Break the plastic safety tag and get into position. Make sure you stand at a distance of about 8-12 feet away from the flames, any closer or further away will be ineffective, potentially dangerous and risk spreading the fire.

Just Remember P.A.S.S.

P – Pull out the safety pin, located at the top of the extinguisher.

A – Aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire.

S – Squeeze the handle to spray the contents.

S – Sweep from side to side until all of the flames have been extinguished. Keep spraying to avoid re-ignition until extinguisher contents have been fully discharged.

Special Advice for Foam and CO2 Fire Extinguishers

Most extinguishers should be operated in the same way as mentioned above, although there are special guidelines for foam and CO2 extinguishers. Foam extinguishers should be aimed at the back edge of a fire instead of the base to be most effective.

Care and attention should be exercised when using Carbon Dioxide fire extinguishers. The user should position the discharge horn before use, as during use this becomes very cold and touching it will result in freeze burns. Also for this reason, when using you should hold the extinguisher by the handle and NOT the horn.

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