Sometimes containing a small fire by using a fire extinguisher is the wise choice. But you must be completely familiar with the operation of your extinguisher, know what kind of a fire it is and be certain that your extinguisher is the right type to fight the fire. Otherwise, you can easily make matters worse. If using an extinguisher, even for a small fire, always call 911 FIRST. And have a planned escape route in the event you cannot put the fire out. Here are some general tips for safely using a fire extinguisher.
Use the right extinguisher for the right type of fire:
Classes of Fires:
Class A: Ordinary combustibles such as wood, cloth and paper
Class B: Flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil and oil-based paint
Class C: Energized electrical equipment, including wiring, fuse boxes, circuit breakers, machinery and appliances
Class D: Combustible metals such as magnesium or sodium
All fire extinguishers are labeled for the suitability of each class of fire. For example, you wouldn’t want to use an extinguisher labeled for Type A fires on an electrical fire. Portable extinguishers are also labeled as to the size of fire they can handle. The larger the numbers, the larger the fire the extinguisher can safely handle.
Follow the four-step PASS procedure:
Be safe, always!
Pull the Pin – this will unlock the operating lever and let you discharge the extinguisher.
Aim low – point the extinguisher hose at the base of the fire.
Squeeze the lever on the extinguisher
Sweep the flames in a sideways motion, continuously and carefully until the fire goes out.
While attempting to stop a fire, keep your back to an exit and stand 10 to 20 feet away from the fire (depending upon the size of your extinguisher).
If a fire doesn’t begin to go out immediately, vacate the scene at once!