How To Use a Fire Extinguisher


Most fires start small. Except for explosions, fires can usually be brought under control if they are attacked correctly with the right type and size of extinguisher within the first two minutes! A fire extinguisher should be “listed and labeled” by an independent testing laboratory. The higher the rating number on an A or B extinguisher, the more fire it can put out. Be careful, high-rated units are often heavier models. Make sure you can hold and operate the model you are buying.

Dial 911. A portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives. Before attempting to fight a small fire be sure everyone is out of the building. It is important to have someone call the fire department. If the fire starts to spread or threatens your escape path, get out immediately!

The operator must know how to use the extinguisher, quickly, without taking the time to read directions during an emergency. Remember that extinguishers need care and must be recharged after every use.


Pull the pin. Some extinguishers require releasing a lock latch, pressing a puncture lever or other motion.


Aim low, pointing the extinguisher nozzel (or it’s horn or hose) at the base of the fire.


Squeeze the handle. This releases the extinguishing agent.


Sweep from side to side at the base of the fire until it appears to be out. Watch the fire area in case the fire breaks out again, and repeat use of extinguisher if necessary.

Most fire extinguishers work according to these directions. But some do not. Read and follow the directions on your extinguisher. If you have the slightest doubt about whether or not to fight a fire – DON’T. Just get out and close the door behind you.

Ask your fire department about training and practice in the use of portable fire extinguishers. Many departments offer training sessions to the public.

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