Operating A Fire Extinguisher 101

Operating A Fire Extinguisher 101


By Chris Curry

Some of us may be under the false impression that anyone can simply pick up a fire extinguisher and instinctively know what to do.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.  And you certainly do not want to wait until the minute that your house is in flames to find something like this out.  That is why it is incredibly important to be aware of just how to use a fire extinguisher and how to use it properly.

Smart Steps

The first step in operating a fire extinguisher is knowing where to point it.  If you carelessly aim the extinguisher at the flame, it won’t accomplish a single thing.  Fire needs to be attacked where it begins, which means the base of the fire.  It is senseless to try to stop a fire from the top.

So if you are using a fire extinguisher, get it as close as possible to where the flame is emanating from to achieve the best possible results.  If you are able to catch the fire at the base, you have a much higher chance of putting the fire out.

Heavy Equipment

The second thing to keep in mind is the actual weight of the machine.  Fire extinguishers can in fact be quite bulky and heavy.  If you haven’t ever held one before, you might be surprised by the sheer weight of them.  That is why it is always a good idea to perform a dry run before the unforeseeable happens.

If you happen to have a fire safety plan in place, then you should assign someone who is physically fit to man the fire extinguisher.  In the case of a large fire, you may have to hold it for a long period of time.  So having someone who is up to the task is certainly beneficial.

Personal Safety

But before even employing the use of a fire extinguisher, you need to ensure that your personal safety is taken care of.  Never try to take on a fire that you are not qualified, or able to take care of.  No matter how many personal valuables are at stake, it is certainly never worth your life.

So in the case of a fire, make sure to first contact emergency personnel.  Not only will they be able to send someone to help, but they will be able to advise you of what exactly you should do while you are on the phone.

All Clear

Once you have called the emergency number, ensure that everyone is out of the building.  It is extremely important to put the safety of the people around you first.  So before you even think about using the fire extinguisher, make sure that everyone has safely vacated the building. When everyone has cleared the building, it is safe to bring out the fire extinguisher and do your best until the professionals arrive.

Although you might not be able to completely put the fire out, you will likely be able to contain it. Keep in mind your own personal safety as well as those around you.

Author Information

Chris Curry is a Print Journalism graduate with over fifteen years of writing experience. He has written for numerous magazines, newspapers and online publications. He has also served as the Mental Health Editor of the Campus Free Press and the Mental Health Correspondent for Evoke Magazine. Save money on fire extinguishers and on first aid kits too!

Photo Credit: Dante Alighieri


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