How to safely use a fire extinguisher?
Fire extinguishers are meant to handle only small fires and those handling them should be properly trained to follow the correct protocol. There are many things to consider before using the fire extinguisher.
Firstly is the fire call. This is very important because fire extinguishers are built to put out fires in the incipient stage. This means that the fire is just getting started. Once the fire has passed the beginning stage it becomes too large to fight with a portable extinguisher. An easy way to tell if the fire is still in the incipient stage is by giving the flames a once over to determine if the flames are taller than you. If they are then the fire is no longer in the incipient stage.
Secondly is it the correct type of fire extinguisher for the type of fire. A Class A fire extinguisher meant to be used for fires fuelled by solid combustibles like wood and paper aren’t going to help you extinguish a fire fuelled by cooking oils and grease.
Lastly, check to see if the fire extinguisher is pressurized. There needs to be sufficient pressure to help put out the fire.
To use the extinguisher properly remember the PASS acronym.
Pull the pin
Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire. Aiming at the top of the flames will not kill the fire. The aim is to smother the flames. Remember not to touch the horn on a CO2 extinguisher, it gets very cold and can damage the skin.
Squeeze the trigger lever slowly and in a controlled manner.
Sweep from side to side. Travel the nozzle from side to side until the fire is put out. Keep aiming at the base of the fire.
Keep your distance from where the fire was. Even if it appears to be extinguished there might still be some unseen hot spots that can ignite into a large flame.