A portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives. But they do have limitations. Because fire grows and spreads so rapidly, the #1 priority for residents is to get out safely. Here is what you need to know about choosing and using a fire extinguisher.
Remember to Check Your Fire Extinguisher for:
- Easy access in an emergency: be sure nothing is blocking or limiting your ability to reach it.
- The recommended pressure level: many extinguishers have gauges that show when pressure is too high or too low.
- Working parts: make sure the can, hoses and nozzles aren’t damaged, dented, or rusted.
- Cleanliness: remove any dust, oil, or grease that might be on the outside of the extinguisher.
- Guidelines and instructions: some extinguishers need to be shaken monthly; others need to be pressure tested every few years.
When to Use a Fire Extinguisher
Fire extinguishers can be helpful on a small fire. Below is a checklist to help you prepare to use a fire extinguisher.
- Have I alerted others in the building that there’s a fire?
- Has someone called the fire department?
- Am I physically able to use a fire extinguisher?
- Is the fire small and contained in a single object (like a pan or a wastebasket)?
- Am I safe from the fire’s toxic smoke?
- Do I have a clear escape route?
Use a fire extinguisher when all of these questions are answered “yes.” If you’re unsure about whether or not it’s safe to use a fire extinguisher, and for all other situations, alert others, leave the building, and call 911 from a mobile or neighbor’s phone. It is not recommended that children use fire extinguishers.
How to Use a Fire Extinguisher
When operating a fire extinguisher, tell remember the word PASS.
- Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you and release the locking mechanism.
- Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
- Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
- Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.
Fire Extinguisher Training
As a reminder, the Fire Department offers fire extinguisher training to the business community or any other interested group. The class includes a videotaped instructional program, brief lecture, handouts, and an opportunity to extinguish a live fire. The class is available upon request and is highly recommended for all adults. A nominal fee is charged for each class to cover the cost of the program. Please contact the Fire Department at (630) 377-4458 for more information.