Steps to Use a Fire Extinguisher Correctly

Fire Extinguishers 101 - steps to use a fire extinguisher

Do you know the steps to use a fire extinguisher correctly?  What may seem like common sense, is not as common as you would think.

I felt a little bad as I snatched the fire extinguisher out of my coworker’s hands. The catered food, tablecloth, and table were on fire!  Someone had put a silk flower arrangement too close to a chafing pan flame. A coworker that was the first to notice, had a fire extinguisher amid the blaze in seconds. Her quick heroic act was short lived when she couldn’t figure out why the extinguisher wasn’t working as she frantically squeezed the two handles together. I waited an excruciating 10 seconds. She’s going to figure it out, right? But as the flames got bigger and seeing guests in harm’s way, someone had to remove the pin and put out the fire before someone got hurt, so I did.  I was a teenager at the time and told my mother about my interesting day.  She said, “I bet you’re glad we taught you fire safety when you were little”. Truthfully, I didn’t remember my parents teaching me about fire extinguishers.  My belief was that I had a little more common sense than the other girl.  Apparently, fire safety knowledge is not so common.

Quick Fire Extinguisher Quiz:

  1. Do you know the acronym steps for using a fire extinguisher?
  2. Do you know how many fire extinguisher class types there are and which is right for an electrical fire versus an oil cooking fire?
  3. What are indicators that a fire extinguisher is in good working order?  
  4. What are the top three safety tips for using a fire extinguisher?


How to Use a Fire Extinguisher Correctly

Fire Extinguishers - steps to use a fire extinguisher

PASS is the acronym for using a fire extinguisher. Pull the pin, Aim at the base of the fire staning 6 to 8 feet away, Squeeze the lever, and Sweep side to side.


How Many Types of

Fire Extinguisher Are There?

steps to use a fire extinguisher - types of fire extinguishers

There are several types and classes of fire extinguishers. The different types are foam, water, dry chemical powder, wet chemical, halon, and CO2. The class of a fire extinguisher is what you should really what to pay attention to!  The class determines if it can be used on certain fires.  See the list of classes below. Never use a fire extinguisher on a class fire it was not designed for.  It’s dangerous to do so and can spread the fire.

Class A

Class A Fire Extinguisher

For solids such as paper, wood, rubber, clothes, plastic

Indicators:  Green, triangle, a picture of trash can/wood burning


Class B

Class B Fire Extinguisher

For flammable liquids and gases such as kerosene, paraffin, petrol, gasoline, propane, butane

Indicators:  Red, square, a picture of a gas can and flame



Class C

Class C Fire Extinguisher

For electrical parts and equipment fires such as wall sockets, electrical wiring, appliances, electronics 

Indicators:  Blue, circle, a picture of an electrical cord and outlet on fire


Class D

Class D Fire Extinguisher

For metals such as lithium, magnesium, titanium, zinc 

Indicators: Yellow, star, a picture of a star with a D in the center (most common), a ratchet wheel on fire, or a beam on fire 



Class K

Class K Fire Extinguisher

For cooking fires such as cooking oil, lard, grease fat 

Indicators: Black, hexagon, a picture of a fire in a frying pan




Mulit-purposeMulti-Purpose Fire Extinguisher 

This is the most common fire extinguisher you can purchase today for residential use. It is typically a dry chemical extinguisher designed for the use of class A, B, and C (solids, liquids, electrical) fires.  They come in rechargeable canisters for around $45 or disposable canisters for around $25.  Each extinguisher should be labeled how close to the fire you should stand for the extinguisher’s stream to reach the flame.  The small fire extinguisher below recommends 6 feet and the larger recommends 8 feet.      

steps to use a fire extinguisher


Indicators that a Fire Extinguisher is in Good Working Order

  1. Pressure gauge arrow is located in the green zone on FULL.
  2. Check the manufacturing date.  Most extinguishers last between five and fifteen years. To determine how long a fire extinguisher is good for check the label.
  3. Dry chemical extinguishers should be shaken monthly to prevent the material from settling.
  4. The canister should be checked for damage. If damage is found the fire extinguisher should be replaced.


Top Three Safety Tips for Using a Fire Extinguisher

  1. Have your back toward the exit with an escape route in mind.
  2. Do not try to extinguish a fire that spreads too rapidly.
  3. A fire extinguisher should never be used on a fire classification it is not labeled for.


Fire Extinguishers Info Section 1-2

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About PreppersSurvive 141 Articles
Welcome to my site! My name is Nettie and I started this blog to provide simple tools to help Preppers.  I am a Girl Scout Prepper. “Be prepared! A Girl Scout is ready to help out wherever she is needed. Willingness to serve is not enough; you must know how to do the job well, even in an emergency" (the motto, in the 1947 Girl Scout Handbook). Being a Prepper has been a blessing to me, my family, and friends on more then one occasion. You'll find these stories throughout this blog.  You will also find prepper supplies checklists, prepper events, cheap food storage ideas, emergency heat sources, survival books recommendations, reviews on power outage lights, printable prepper pdfs, and articles on emergency disaster preparedness.  Click here to read more

2 Comments on Steps to Use a Fire Extinguisher Correctly

  1. House fires are always under emphasized in the Prepper community. Thanks for the thorough write up on an underutilized tool. I keep one in my kitchen, garage, and disaster kit.

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