Fire safety is a critical aspect of our daily lives, whether at home, in the workplace, or in public spaces. In emergency situations, such as a fire, knowing how to use a fire extinguisher effectively can make the difference between a manageable incident and a devastating disaster. Fire extinguishers are a very important and useful tool to have on hand in case of a fire, and it is critical that they be handled correctly and safely.
To ensure the proper use of fire extinguishers, it’s essential to understand key principles, including the acronym PASS: Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep.
P – Pull
The first step in using a fire extinguisher is to pull the pin. The pin is typically located on the extinguisher’s handle or lever. Before approaching the fire, make sure the extinguisher is fully charged and ready for use.
To pull the pin, follow these steps:
- Stand a safe distance from the fire, maintaining an escape route.
- Ensure the nozzle or hose of the extinguisher is pointed away from you.
- Grasp the extinguisher’s handle securely.
- With your other hand, locate the pin and pull it straight out. This action will break the tamper seal, allowing you to discharge the extinguisher.
A – Aim
Once the pin is pulled, you need to aim the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire. Proper aim is crucial to effectively suppress the flames and prevent the fire from spreading.
To aim accurately:
- Keep a safe distance from the fire, ensuring you have a clear path to retreat if needed.
- Point the nozzle or hose at the base of the flames, not at the top or middle of the fire.
- Maintain a steady grip on the extinguisher to control the direction of the discharge.
S – Squeeze
After aiming the extinguisher correctly, the next step is to squeeze the handle or lever. This action releases the fire-suppressing agent within the extinguisher.
Remember the following when squeezing the handle:
- Use your hand to squeeze the handle or lever firmly and steadily.
- Apply even pressure to discharge the extinguishing agent consistently.
- Be prepared for some recoil or kickback as the agent is released.
S – Sweep
The final step in using a fire extinguisher effectively is to sweep from side to side. Sweeping helps cover the entire area of the fire and extinguish any remaining flames or hotspots.
To sweep properly:
- Begin at the edge of the fire, not too close to the flames.
- Move the nozzle or hose from side to side in a sweeping motion, covering the base of the fire.
- Continue sweeping until the flames are completely extinguished. Be thorough to prevent re-ignition.
Understanding the PASS acronym in fire safety – Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep – is essential for anyone needing a fire extinguisher. These four simple steps can significantly increase your chances of successfully tackling and preventing a small fire from spreading. If used correctly and safely, fire extinguishers are a great, potentially life-saving tool. All fire extinguishers should be visually inspected once a month and serviced once a year. Traditional fire extinguishers typically have a life span of 10-12 years before they need to be replaced. Disposable (non-rechargeable) fire extinguishers should be replaced every 10 years, even if they have not been used.
Remember that safety should always be a top priority, and if a fire becomes uncontrollable or if you’re unsure about using a fire extinguisher, evacuate the area immediately and call the fire department. Being prepared and knowledgeable about fire safety can save lives and protect property in critical situations. We’d love to understand your fire and life safety needs to see how we can help. Please reach out to us to schedule a conversation.