How To Operate a Fire Extinguisher

Do you know how to operate a fire extinguisher? For the most part, fire extinguishers are one of those tools that we want to have on hand but expect to never use.

Small fires are easily put out by many people. Fighting a fire that is beyond your ability, however, will result in death or serious injury. Just attempt to put out a fire when it is in its early stages, and always prioritize your own and others’ protection.

We’ll go through some quick tips on how to respond to a fire, how to pick the right fire extinguisher, how to operate a fire extinguisher, when to evacuate and how to avoid the most popular fire mistakes.

Procedure for Responding to an Emergent Fire in the Early Stages

  1. If necessary, activate the fire alarm and contact the fire department.
  2. Before approaching the flames, decide on a safe escape path. Allowing the fire, flame, or smoke to get in the way of your escape route is not a great idea.
  3. Choose the right fire extinguisher for the job.
  4. Using the P.A.S.S. method, discharge the extinguisher within its effective range.
  5. Keep an eye on the surrounding environment. If the fire flares up again, repeat steps 2 through 4.
  6. If a fire has been extinguished, keep a safe distance from it in case it rekindles.
  7. If the fire extinguisher is empty but the fire is still burning, evacuate immediately.
  8. If the fire has progressed past the incipient point, evacuate immediately.

When reacting to an incipient stage fire, the above procedures should be followed. It is critical to combat a fire at the incipient stage because it is easiest to suppress and does the least harm.

NB; EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY if you have any doubts about your ability to combat a fire!

How to Choose the Appropriate Fire Extinguisher

The correct type of extinguisher must be used to put out the fire. Anyone who may be required to use firefighting equipment or simple firefighting techniques should be qualified in their use. Using the incorrect form of fire extinguisher can be fatal.

Fire extinguishers can be classified by color coding and labeling. Verify that the extinguisher that you want to use is appropriate for the fire form e.g., that the water extinguisher should never be used on electrical fires.

The following are the most common types of fires:

Class A; The fuel source for this form of fire is ordinary combustible material. Wood, paper, clothing, litter, rubber, cloths, and plastics are examples of such materials.

Class B; There are fires that are fueled by flammable liquids. Petroleum-based oils, paints, kerosene, and gasoline are all examples of liquid-based fuels.

Class C; This applies to fires involving flammable gases, the most common of which are propane, methane, butane, and LPG gases.

Class D; Combustible metals are used as the fuel source in these fires. Magnesium, zirconium, sodium, lithium, and potassium are among the metals in this category.

Class E; This is a form of electrical fire caused by energized equipment. Motors, machinery, and electronic transformers are often the source of electrical fires. Electrical fires are a common occurrence in the workplace and at home.

Class F; Cooking oils, animal fats, greases and vegetable fats initiate or fuel these fires.

The majority of home fire extinguishers are multipurpose and numbered for use in the A, B, and C classes. Keep in mind that ABC extinguishers must have minimal travel distance from anywhere in your building.

Symbols on fire extinguisher labels show the types of fires the extinguisher is intended to put out. If any of the symbols has a circle and a red slash through it, it means the extinguisher can’t be used to put out that particular fire.

The Best Way on How to Operate a Fire Extinguisher

People who haven’t been trained should avoid using fire extinguishers. Make sure you or anyone else has raised the fire alarm and that you have a secure escape route before using a fire extinguisher to put out a fire.

  1. Before using the fire extinguisher, ensure you have a clear path of escape. If you can’t put out the fire, you’ll have to make a safe escape.
  2. When you plan to use the fire extinguisher. Keep your back to the obvious exit you mentioned earlier and face the flames.
  3. The P.A.S.S method is a basic fire extinguisher training technique that can be used to discharge the extinguisher and put out the fire:
How to operate a fire extinguisher

P – Pull the pin on the extinguisher. The pin prevents the handle from being pressed and unintentionally operating the extinguisher while it is in place.

A – Aim the fire standing at a safe distance. Aim the nozzle or outlet towards the base of the fire.

S – Squeeze the handles together to release the extinguishing agent that has been trapped inside. Release the handles to halt the discharge.

S – Sweep the base of the fire from side to side until it appears to be out. Look around. Aim, Squeeze and Sweep if the fire re-ignites.

NB: If you can’t put out the fire or the extinguisher runs out, evacuate yourself and everyone else in the building as soon as possible, locking all doors behind you and calling the fire department.

If any of the following circumstances exist, staff should immediately follow evacuation protocols and not use an extinguisher to put out the fire:

  1. The evacuation routes are obstructed. The fire is not under control, and heat, smoke, and flames are obstructing possible escape routes.
  2. The atmosphere is either too hot or too smoky. If visibility is low, crawling on the floor is sufficient to escape heat or smoke.
  3. The air is unsafe to inhale.
  4. The fire has grown out of control.

Common Fire Safety Mistakes to Avoid.

The most common mistakes on how to operate a fire extinguisher are but not limited to;

Don’t overlook the instructions: Learn the operating instructions on your fire extinguisher thoroughly. Make sure that all the representatives can read the guidelines and understand them.

Don’t use a fire extinguisher that isn’t the right kind for the job: It is critical that you understand which fire extinguisher to use, for which class of fire and where each one is located – doing so will enable you to fight the fire much more effectively and safely.

Extinguishing Techniques That Aren’t Correct; Water should never be used to put out electrical or oil fires, as this will only make the situation worse. Fires involving solids such as wood, plastic, or paper should only be put out with water.

Inadequate Evacuation Planning; If you’re a company owner or a building manager, it’s important to have a well-defined escape route that all building occupants are aware of. This path must be clear, simple to follow, and lead to a secure meeting location.

It’s important to switch off all power to the fire’s source if you have an electrical fire. This action will also stop a fire if taken early enough, but if it doesn’t, it can at least keep it from spreading. Make sure you know where your building’s power supply is so that you can switch it off if necessary.

Need a fire extinguisher? Check out our buyer’s guide: Best Fire Extinguishers

Medswift offers the highest standard supply, installation, maintenance and repair and how to operate fire a extinguisher as well as fire safety training. For more information, get in touch with us today and we’ll be happy to help.

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