Learn How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

You pass them all the time as you walk the hallways at work or school, and hopefully at home too, but you’ve probably given little thought as to how you actually use a fire extinguisher.

Majority of Malaysians don’t know how to use an extinguisher, even if they have one in their home. This is a dangerous knowledge gap. Fires double in size every 60 seconds, so you don’t want to be fumbling around in an emergency situation, reading over the instruction manual as a small flame on the stove grows into an inferno.

The Right Fire Extinguisher for the Right Fire

Fire extinguishers come in a wide variety of types — each one designed to put out a different kind of fire. Classification systems have been developed to help users know what sort of extinguisher they’re working with.

Classes of Fires

A family was recently killed by home fire at Butterworth, Penang. [ News Source: http://bit.ly/FamilyKilledInFire ]

It is regrettable that people only start to think of what fire prevention tools they should have for their homes after a mishap happens. Don’t be caught unprepared to handle a fire emergency. The life you save could be yours. [ News Source: http://bit.ly/FireSafetyEquipment ]

You can purchase a portable dry powder fire extinguisher to safeguard your home in case of Class A, B, C and E fire outbreak here: [ FIRE EXTINGUISHER FOR HOME ].

Fire Protection Kit for Home

Where to Put a Fire Extinguisher in Your House

Your office or school very likely already has fire extinguishers in place. You should, at minimum, have one ABC extinguisher per level of your house. It’s best to have one near each of the rooms where fires are most likely to break out – the garage and especially the kitchen.

Store extinguishers where your kids can’t get to them, but they’re still easy to access – you don’t want to be looking around and digging through a closet when every second is crucial. Don’t place them near stoves and heating appliances, or behind curtains and drapes – places where fires may start and quickly spread; if you can’t reach the extinguisher because the thing that’s on fire is right by it, you’re in trouble. The best location for your fire extinguisher is mounted near a door – your escape routes.

Once you’ve gotten an extinguisher or two to protect your castle, try to check it periodically to see if its pressure is still in the green zone, the seals haven’t been broken, the hoses are intact, and it hasn’t been damaged by things like dents, leaks, or rust.

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

If you chance to encounter a fire, mentally go through this checklist of questions before attempting to put it out with an extinguisher:

1. Are you taller than the fire? Fire extinguishers are designed to put out fires in the incipient stage. That’s fireman talk for when the fire is just getting started. When it gets past the beginning stage, a fire becomes too large to fight with a portable extinguisher.

How do you know if the fire is still in the incipient stage? Just give the flame the once over to see if it’s taller than you.

It is? Hightail it out of there and call 911. Your fire extinguisher will likely be no match for the flames.

You’re still taller than the fire? Proceed to the next question.

2. Do you have the right fire extinguisher for the type of fire? Remember, extinguishers are designed for certain fire types. If you’re facing a grease fire, a simple A extinguisher (which contains only pressurized water) won’t put it out.

3. Is the fire extinguisher pressurized? Check the gauge on the extinguisher to see if it’s fully charged and pressurized. If the needle is in the green, you’re good. If not, you won’t have enough pressure to put the fire out. Forget it and get out of there.

Get in Position

If you can answer “yes” to all three of those questions, you’re ready to put out the fire with the extinguisher.

If possible, position yourself with your back to an unobstructed exit so that you can get out quickly if you need to. The discharge range for extinguishers can run from 6-20 feet (know your extinguisher’s range beforehand), and you want to be far enough away to not be in danger of being burned, and close enough that the discharge will be effective.


To employ the extinguisher with proper technique, just remember the acronym “PASS.”

  • Pull the pin.
  • Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire. Hitting the tops of the flame with the extinguisher won’t be effective. You got to smother the sucker at its base.
  • Squeeze the trigger. In a controlled manner, squeeze the trigger to release the agent.
  • Sweep from side to side. Sweep the nozzle from side to side until the fire is put out. Keep aiming at the base while you do so. Most extinguishers will give you about 10-20 seconds of discharge time.
  • Slowly back away. Even if the fire appears to be extinguished, don’t turn your back on it. There might be unseen hot spots or hidden fires that can ignite into a large flame at any moment. You want to be on guard for that.

    Once you’ve used a fire extinguisher, even if you didn’t deplete all the pressure, you must get it recharged. Do so as soon as possible. If it’s a disposable extinguisher, throw it away and replace.

    If you can get some hands-on training with a fire extinguisher (some emergency services/community organizations offer classes), it’s highly recommended that you do so. But now you know the basics. Next time you see a fire extinguisher in the hallway, you can give it a nod of confidence as you PASS it by.

    Have you ever had to use a fire extinguisher? Share your fire extinguisher stories and tips with us in the comments!