Fire Extinguishers

Types, basics, techniques: Fire District 6 provides FREE fire extinguisher use training to your group or place of business. A firefighter will bring an extinguisher prop, a device using propane fuel which gets lit on fire, that allows trainees to use an extinguisher to put out a real fire. The hands-on instruction is very valuable in providing a real scenario for people to learn from. Fire extinguishers are provided by the business or group requesting the class. The basics of fire extinguisher use focus on a few important details to remember:

Fire Extinguishers at Work or Home
If there is a fire, follow your company's fire emergency plan or your home fire plan. Designated trained employees will evaluate the fire and decide if it is safe to fight it. If at home, talk to family members in advance about how to use extinguishers to put out small fires.

The Five Classes of Fire
To be effective portable fire extinguishers must match the fire you're fighting. There are five classes of fires. Extinguishers are labeled with standard letters and symbols for the classes of fires they can put out.

  • Class A fires involve ordinary combustibles such as wood, cloth, and paper.
  • Class B fires involve flammable liquids, such as gasoline, oil, and some paints and solvents.
  • Class C fires involve energized electrical equipment, such as power tools, wiring, fuse boxes, computers, TVs, and electric motors.
  • Class D fires involve combustible metals, such as magnesium or sodium. Fighting Class D fires requires specialized training.
  • Class K fires involve cooking oils used in commercial cooking equipment.
A red slash through any of the fire-class symbols on an extinguisher's label means you must not use the extinguisher on that class of fire.

Things you should know:
  • It is dangerous to use water or an extinguisher labeled only for Class A fires on a fire involving flammable liquids or energized electrical equipment.
  • Extinguishers for Class D fires must match the type of metal that is burning. The metals will be listed on the label.
  • Use only extinguishers labeled for Class K fires for fighting a fire in a commercial grease fryer. Multipurpose extinguishers - labeled for Class A, B, and C fires - aren't appropriate.
Before fighting a fire, be sure that . . .
  • You have been trained to operate the extinguisher.
  • Everyone not designated to use extinguishers is leaving the area and someone has sounded the alarm and called 9-1-1.
  • You have an unobstructed escape route in case you can't put out the fire.
  • The fire is small, confined, and not spreading.
  • You know what's burning and your extinguisher is right for the fire.
PASS: Using portable extinguishers
  • Keep your back to a clear exit and stand six to eight feet away from the fire, and remember the acronym PASS.

    P Pull the pin that unlocks the operating lever.
    A Aim Low - Point the extinguisher nozzle or hose at the base of the fire.
    S Squeeze the lever above the handle to discharge the extinguishing agent. To stop the discharge, release the lever.
    S Sweep the nozzle or hose from side to side. Keep the extinguisher aimed at the base of the fire and sweep back and forth until the flames appear to be out.

  • Watch the fire area. If the fire re-ignites, repeat the process.

  • Have the fire department inspect the fire site, even if you think you've extinguished the fire.

  • If the fire does not go out, get to a safe area.

  • Extinguishers should be installed within easy reach, so they can be accessed quickly while the fire is still small), and near doors, so anyone using them will have a safe escape route.

For additional information, please email the Fire District 6 Public Education Coordinator or call us at 360-576-1195.

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