How to Properly Use a Fire Extinguisher

Fire extinguishers are important safety devices, but they only help if you know how to use a fire extinguisher. Learn how to properly use a fire extinguisher - it could save a life!

Parts of a Fire Extinguisher

Before you use a fire extinguisher, it is important to get to know the parts of one.

  • The extinguishing agent is the chemical inside the fire extinguisher’s tank that will put out the type of fire that it is rated for.
  • The safety pin is inserted into the valve to avoid accidental discharge. It needs to be pulled for the fire extinguisher to work.
  • The discharge lever is the trigger you press to operate the fire extinguisher after the safety pin is pulled.
  • Carrying handles help you move portable fire extinguishers and hold them securely.
  • The pressure gauge lets you know if your fire extinguisher is properly pressurized.
  • The discharge hose and discharge nozzle lets you aim the extinguishing agent.
  • Gas canister: The gas canister stores expellant, which is released when one pulls the nozzle. It propels the extinguishing agent out of the fire extinguisher.

Types of Fires and Fire Extinguishers

It's essential to know the different classifications of fires, determine what types of fire may happen in a given space, and be sure to have the right fire extinguisher for the job. Household fire extinguishers are effective against the most common types of fires in residential or general office environments.

Most household fires fall into one of the following categories:

Class A: Solid combustibles, including wood, paper, and cloth.

Class B: Flammable liquids, including oil, petroleum, and gasoline.

Class C: Electrical fires caused by faulty wiring, fuse boxes, appliances or other electrical issues.

Class K: Oil and grease fires, including cooking oils, and animal and vegetable fats.

Class D fire extinguishers are generally only needed within a chemical laboratory to protect against fires from combustible metals, like magnesium, potassium and others. Class ABC fire extinguishers are all-purpose, using a dry chemical that works on class A, B, and C fires.

Choose a fire extinguisher that is right for the types of fires that could occur.

Fire Extinguisher Inspect

Inspect Your Fire Extinguisher

You should check your fire extinguisher on a monthly basis, to make sure there are no dents, damage to the fire extinguisher nozzle, and that it is pressurized properly, with the needle pointing in the green zone.

Safety First!

Before starting to extinguish the fire, sound the alarm and call the fire department. Make sure everyone else in the building evacuates.

Make sure you always have a safe evacuation path, so you can get out immediately if you cannot put the fire out right away. The fire or smoke should never come between you and your exit.

10 Seconds to Extinguish Flames

If the fire is not out after using the fire extinguisher, or flames seem to be increasing, evacuate immediately. On average, you will have about 10 seconds before the fire extinguisher runs out and you need to exit. Also, evacuate immediately if the fire re-ignites. If in doubt, get out.


Extinguish Flames

PASS Method

Remember the PASS method to use a fire extinguisher, and stand with your back to the exit.

Pull: Pull the safety pin at the top of the fire extinguisher to release the lock, while carefully being sure to point the nozzle away from anyone, including yourself.

Aim: Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire to extinguish the fire at its source. Stand at a safe distance but close enough for the extinguishing agent to reach the fire. Many fire extinguishers have a range of between 8 ft to 12 ft or 2.4 m to 3.7 m. You can approach closer as the flames die down.

Squeeze: Squeeze the fire extinguisher lever slowly and evenly to release the chemical properly. Don't touch the plastic discharge horn of a CO2 extinguisher, as it may freeze and injure skin.

Sweep: While continuing to aim at the base, sweep the nozzle from side to side to evenly reach it, until the fire is extinguished.

PASS Method


Replace a disposable fire extinguisher or recharge your fire extinguisher right away.

Never leave an empty fire extinguisher around, as someone may end up trying to use a non-working fire extinguisher in another emergency.

recharge your fire extinguisher right away

At Team 1 Academy, we offer Fire Extinguisher (Live Fire) training and Fire Warden training, to help you and your employees be prepared for an emergency. Keep your workplace and business safe, and keep your family safe.

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