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How to Safely Use a Fire Extinguisher

22nd March 2024

In any business or property, fire safety is crucial. As a responsible business owner, landlord, or estate agency, understanding how to effectively use a fire extinguisher can mean the difference between a manageable incident and a devastating loss. In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through the essential steps of safely operating a fire extinguisher, ensuring you're well-equipped to handle fire emergencies with confidence.

Understanding the Fire Extinguisher Classes: 

Before exploring the specifics of using a fire extinguisher, it's essential to understand the different classes of fires and the corresponding types of extinguishers. In the UK, fire extinguishers are classified into several categories: Class A, B, C, D, and F. Each class is designed to combat specific types of fires, such as those fueled by wood and paper (Class A), flammable liquids (Class B), electrical equipment (Class C), metals (Class D), and cooking oils and fats (Class F). Familiarising yourself with these classifications will ensure you select the appropriate extinguisher for the fire at hand.

Recognising the Correct Fire Extinguisher: 

Ensuring that you have the correct fire extinguisher for the specific type of fire you may encounter is paramount in any fire safety plan. Each class of fire requires a different type of extinguisher to effectively combat it: 

  • Class A (Combustible Materials): Use water or foam extinguishers.
  • Class B (Flammable Liquids): Opt for dry powder or foam extinguishers.
  • Class C (Flammable Gases): Choose dry powder or CO2 extinguishers.
  • Class D (Metals): Use specialised dry powder extinguishers.
  • Class F (Cooking Oils and Fats): Use wet chemical extinguishers.

By ensuring that you have the appropriate extinguisher for each potential fire hazard, you can effectively respond to emergencies and minimise the risk of injury or property damage. Regular maintenance and proper training in the use of fire extinguishers are also essential components of a comprehensive fire safety plan.

Remember the PASS Technique: 

One of the most useful methods for using a fire extinguisher is the PASS technique:

  • Pull: Start by pulling the pin located at the top of the extinguisher. This action will break the tamper seal and prepare the extinguisher for use.
  • Aim: Aim the nozzle or hose at the base of the fire, not at the flames themselves. Focusing on the base of the fire will help extinguish it more effectively.
  • Squeeze: Squeeze the handle or lever to release the extinguishing agent. Maintain a firm grip on the extinguisher while applying pressure to ensure a steady stream of suppressant.
  • Sweep: Sweep the nozzle or hose from side to side, covering the entire area of the fire with the extinguishing agent. Continue sweeping until the fire is completely extinguished, monitoring for signs of reignition.

Always ensure that fire extinguishers are recharged immediately after use, so they are readily available and operational at all times. Practising the PASS technique ensures an organised approach to extinguishing fires, maximising effectiveness while minimising the risk to your safety. 

Maintain Proper Distance: 

While using a fire extinguisher, it's important to maintain a safe distance from the fire to avoid exposure to heat, flames, or toxic fumes. Stand at least six feet away from the fire and use the nozzle or hose to apply the extinguishing agent from a safe distance. If the fire grows beyond your control or if conditions become unsafe, evacuate the area immediately and alert others to do the same.

Know when to Evacuate: 

Even with proper training and equipment, there may be instances where attempting to extinguish a fire is not advisable. If the fire is spreading rapidly, producing excessive smoke, or presenting other hazards, prioritise your safety and evacuate the premises immediately. Once outside, call emergency services and provide them with relevant information, such as the location and nature of the fire.

By following these essential steps, you'll be better prepared to handle fire emergencies and protect your business or property. However, proper fire safety goes beyond knowing how to use a fire extinguisher. Regular training, maintenance of extinguishers, and implementing comprehensive fire safety protocols are equally important aspects of safeguarding your premises and personnel.

At Fire Stoppers, we specialise in providing comprehensive fire safety services tailored to your business's individual needs. From fire risk assessments to the installation and maintenance of fire extinguishers, we're here to ensure your premises are adequately protected.

Contact us today or visit our blog page for more information on how we can support your fire safety needs.