Safety Tip: Fire Extinguishers

Poor maintenance and incorrect usage of fire extinguishers are two key reasons why small fires spread, potentially endangering lives and causing considerable damage to property. Small fires can be brought under control within the first few minutes of ignition if attended to correctly with an extinguisher that is well maintained. This can buy you valuable time before the Fire Brigade arrives.

How to Operate a Fire Extinguisher:

There are four basic steps for using modern portable fire extinguishers and they can be easily remembered using the acronym PASS.

1. Pull Pin: Pull the pin at the top of the extinguisher, breaking the seal. When in place, the pin keeps the handle from being pressed and accidentally operating the extinguisher. Immediately test the extinguisher, aiming away from the operator. This is to ensure the extinguisher works and also shows the operator how far the stream travels.

2. Aim: Approach the fire, standing at a safe distance. Aim the nozzle or outlet towards the base of the fire.

3. Squeeze: Squeeze the handles together to discharge the extinguishing agent inside. To stop, release the handles.

4. Sweep: Sweep the nozzle from side to side as you approach the fire, directing the extinguishing agent at the base of the flames.


  • Always test the extinguisher before proceeding to the fire.
  • Remember you only have seconds to extinguish the fire, not minutes, but only do so if it’s safe and you are trained to do so.
  • The rule of thumb is that if you cannot put the fire out with one extinguisher then the fire is too big to fight.


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