Proper Use of a Fire Extinguisher

Whether you are at home, work or various public places, you may have the opportunity to put out a small fire using a fire extinguisher.

The Salt Lake City Fire Department reminds everyone that the first thing you should do in case of any fire is sound the fire alarm (if appropriate) and call the fire department. After that, if the fire is still small enough to fight with a nearby fire extinguisher, the following steps will help keep you safe:

  • Identify a safe evacuation path before approaching the fire (Do not allow the fire, heat or smoke to come between you and your evacuation path)
  • Discharge the extinguisher within its effective range using the P.A.S.S. technique (pull, aim, squeeze, sweep)
  1. Pull … Pull the pin. This will also break the tamper seal.
  2. Aim … Aim low, pointing the extinguisher nozzle (or its horn or hose) at the base of the fire.
  3. Squeeze … Squeeze the handle to release the extinguishing agent
  4. Sweep … Sweep from side to side at the base of the fire until it appears to be out. Watch the area. If the fire re-ignites, repeat steps 2 – 4.
  • Back away from an extinguished fire in case it flames up again
  • Evacuate immediately if the extinguisher is empty and the fire is not out
  • Evacuate immediately if the fire progresses beyond the incipient stage

Remember, portable fire extinguishers are valuable for immediate use on small fires. They contain a limited amount of extinguishing material and need to be properly used so that this material is not wasted.

Here is a video demonstrating the use of a fire extinguisher.

Use a fire extinguisher only if:

  • You have alerted other occupants and someone has called the fire department;
  • The fire is small and contained to a single object, such as a wastebasket;
  • You are safe from the toxic smoke produced by the fire;
  • You have a means of escape identified and the fire is not between you and the escape route; and
  • Your instincts tell you that it is safe to use an extinguisher

If all of these conditions are not present, you should not try to use a fire extinguisher.

Only trained firefighters, with the proper equipment, should safely extinguish bigger fires.