How to use a fire extinguisher



Before using a fire extinguisher you need to know a couple of things.

Firstly, how to use them safely and when to use them. If the flames are taller than you, step away and leave it to the experts.

Secondly, how to select the appropriate extinguisher for the type of fire you are trying to put out.

Choosing the wrong type of extinguisher might not put the fire out, and may make it worse. For example, you must not use a water fire extinguisher on an electrical fire.

Information about the extinguishers and which classes of fire they can be used on can be found on the signage where the extinguisher is kept and on the extinguisher itself.

Using the fire extinguisher

To use a fire extinguisher all you need to remember is “PASS”.

P – Pull the pin.

Pull the pin to unlock the extinguisher. This will also break the seal.

A – Aim at the base of the fire

Aim at the base of the fire and stand roughly six to ten feet away (or roughly two to three metres).

S – Squeeze the level

Squeeze the lever to discharge the agent. Most extinguishers will give you about 10 to 20 seconds of discharge time.

S – Sweep from side to side

Sweep the spray from left to right until the flames are completely extinguished. If one extinguisher cannot put the fire out, leave the fire and get yourself out.

Top Tips

  1. When using a CO2 fire extinguisher, never hold the horn as it becomes extremely cold during use and can lead to severe frost burns.
  2. Always use the base handle of the extinguisher when freely supporting the device, avoid holding the cylinder or nozzle for extended periods.
  3. Never turn your back on a fire, even if you think it’s out.
  4. Once you have used the extinguisher, even if you didn’t use all of it, you must get it recharged as soon as possible.

In addition, you should also inspect any fire extinguishers you have in your premises.

This involves:

  • Reading the information on the back of the extinguisher to ensure it is in date and has been suitably inspected.
  • Checking that the pressure gauge needle indicates an adequate level of pressure, pointing somewhere in the green part of the gauge.
  • Making sure the nozzle is clear, the seal isn’t broken and there are no other signs of damage.

Fire extinguishers are meant only meant to handle small fires. If a fire becomes too large you should follow your evacuation procedures immediately and not attempt to fight the fire.

For more information on extinguishers and fire safety management, visit our website at