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Fire Extinguisher Use

How to Use a Portable Fire Extinguisher

Employees are not expected to fight fires. Your responsibility in a fire situation is to alert others and to evacuate.

Small fires can often be put out quickly by a well-trained individual with a portable fire extinguisher. However, to do this safely, you must understand the use and limitation of a portable fire extinguisher and the hazards associated with fighting fires.

Do not attempt to extinguish any fire without calling for help and pulling the fire alarm. Always leave an exit at your back in order to escape before using an extinguisher.

Make sure the fire is limited to the original material ignited and is contained (such as in a waste basket). To extinguish a fire with a portable extinguisher, a person must have immediate access to the extinguisher, know how to actuate the unit, and know how to apply the agent effectively.

Attempting to extinguish even a small fire carries some risk. Fires can increase in size and intensity in seconds, blocking the exit path and creating a hazardous atmosphere.

In addition, portable fire extinguishers contain a limited amount of extinguishing agent and can be discharged in a matter of seconds. Therefore, individuals should attempt to fight only very small or incipient stage fires.

Remember (P.A.S.S.): Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep


  • Holding extinguisher upright, twist the pin to break the plastic safety seal. Pull the pin completely out.


  • Aim low. Point the extinguisher nozzle (or its horn or hose) at the base of the fire not the flames. This is important - in order to put out the fire, you must extinguish the fuel.


  • Squeeze the handle. This releases the extinguishing agent.


  • Using a sweeping motion, move the fire extinguisher back and forth until the fire is completely out. Watch the fire area. Back away if fire breaks out again repeat the process.
  • Operate the extinguisher from a safe distance, several feet away, and then move towards the fire once it starts to diminish. Be sure to read the instructions on your fire extinguisher - different fire extinguishers recommend operating them from different distances.

Remember: Aim at the base of the fire, not at the flames!

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