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Using a Fire Extinguisher

All extinguishers will have a guide on how to use that particular product, but in an emergency situation it’s always beneficial to have prior knowledge of how an extinguisher works. Most are used in a very similar way, and standards have been adopted. However, appropriate training is always advised prior to the event of using an extinguisher.

Your place of business should have a Responsible Person designated to ensure fire risk assessments are carried out, appropriate equipment is installed and everyone is trained in the use of fire extinguishers and relevant emergency protocol. The appropriate type of fire extinguisher should be installed within a short distance from any reported risks. Before using a fire extinguisher you should first be adequately trained and must check the coloured panel to ensure that you are using the correct extinguisher for the class of fire, and if a pressure gauge is present check that the needle is in the green area. If this is a fire you are equipped to fight, move to the proper distance from the fire for the extinguisher range, and stand with your back to an exit.

Once you’ve decided that you are using the correct extinguisher for the type of fire, you’ve checked that it is pressurised (if a dial is present the needle should be in the green), and you’ve determined that the fire is small enough to be tackled, you can begin. PASS is the acronym used to remember the process.

  1. P- Pull the pin from the handle, this will then break the seal enabling you to use it
  2. A- Aim the hose of the extinguisher at the fire’s base as you'll want to extinguishers the fire at the source
  3. S- Squeeze the lever slowly, applying consistent pressure
  4. S- Sweep the hose from side to side, covering the source of the fire evenly. Move closer as the fire dies down.

Always ensure you stand a safe distance away from the fire. If the fire is still burning after partaking in the P.A.S.S method you should immediately evacuate and contact the fire brigade. 

In the event that the flames flare up, back away and repeat. If the flames are not out by the time the extinguishing agent has been fully discharged, leave immediately. If in any event you are unsure of your ability to contain the fire the safest option is to evacuate and let the fire services deal with the situation.

With this knowledge to hand, you’ll be able to act quickly and efficiently should a fire break out at your home or work.