How to Use a Fire Extinguisher: An Easy 4-Step Process

This entry is part 13 of 13 in the series Fire Prevention

Thankfully, most people haven’t had to contain a fire. But take a moment to think about how you would react during a fire emergency. Would you know what to do? Knowing how to operate a fire extinguisher could mean the difference between minor damage and a full-scale disaster at your business.

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Learn the PASS System

For an easy-to-remember 4-step process to operating a fire extinguisher, learn the PASS system:

  1. Pull the pin while holding the extinguisher away from you to unlock the mechanism.
  2. Aim low toward the base of the fire.
  3. Squeeze the lever slowly.
  4. Sweep the nozzle from side to side at the base of the fire.

Always test the fire extinguisher before approaching a fire to ensure it is functioning properly. Fire extinguishers should be tested annually by a reputable contractor and tagged with the date of inspection.

How to Select the Right Fire Extinguisher

When it comes to fire extinguisher safety, it’s also important to have the right tool for the job. Be prepared with the appropriate fire extinguisher based on the combustible materials you may come into contact with.

  • Class A: Fires with ordinary combustibles such as wood and paper
  • Class B: Flammable/combustible liquid fires such as oil or gasoline
  • Class C: Electrical fires or fires on electrical equipment
  • Class D: Combustible metal fires such as sodium, magnesium, titanium, zirconium, lithium or potassium.
  • Class K: Combustible cooking media such as vegetable or animal oils and fats

Check your building to make sure that you have the appropriate fire extinguishers available. Keep in mind that travel distance to a fire extinguisher from any point in your building shouldn’t be more than 75 feet for ABC extinguishers and 30 feet for K extinguishers.

Fire Safety Resources

Be prepared. Download this Fire Safety Checklist so you and your employees are ready to spring into action in a fire emergency.

Looking for more information to keep your business safe from fire risks? Browse our Fire Prevention blog series, including these topics and more:

Download this PASS system infographic to share:

Learn the PASS system to extinguish fires.

To learn more about how Society can help protect your business, contact your local Society Insurance agent.

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2 thoughts on “How to Use a Fire Extinguisher: An Easy 4-Step Process

  1. Bethany Birchridge

    I’ve always been told how to use a fire extinguisher, but I never really understood how until now. I like how you explained that a Class B fire extinguishers are best for flammable liquids like oil. It sounds like it would be good to have one in the kitchen, as that’s where those types of fires are most likely to occur.

  2. Hector Uba

    Thanks for the tips on using a fire extinguisher correctly. I had no idea there was an acronym for using a fire extinguisher, I will have to write that down. In my opinion, everyone should have a fire extinguisher handy to put out fires in their homes.


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