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The ability to operate a fire extinguisher is an important skill to have should you ever be faced with an uncontrolled fire.

If you are likely to be required to use a fire extinguisher at work due to responsibilities as a fire marshall or where you are located in your workplace, it is recommended that you receive professional hands-on training first.

how to use a fire extinguisher

However, if you do discover a fire that looks out of control, the first thing you should do is call the emergency services.


You can then tackle small fires with an extinguisher but know that, if you cannot put it out, professional help is on the way. Your safety must always come first, so ensure you always have a safe exit out and that your own life is not threatened in trying to tackle the fire.

Our experts at Protect & Detect have compiled our tips on operating a fire extinguisher in an emergency.


The actions required to effectively use an extinguisher in the event of a fire are commonly remembered using the anagram P A S S:

  • Pull the pin on the handle of the extinguisher – this releases the locking mechanism on the handle.
  • Aim at the base of the fire – the aim is to remove the source or fuel of the fire, so target this rather than just the flames.
  • Squeeze the lever slowly to release the extinguishing agent. The discharge will stop if the handle is released so press firmly but slowly.
  • Sweep from side to side – this motion helps to extinguish the fire, so do this until the extinguisher is used up.


When extinguishing a fire, stand several feet back – extinguishers are designed to be used at a longer distance.

The discharge will be for approximately 10 seconds, although this may be less if the extinguisher has already been partially discharged.

Ensure that any extinguisher is replaced after use, and never let a used extinguisher remain in the workplace and create the false impression of being a functioning one.

Ensure that you are using the right extinguisher for the fire – do not, for example, use a water extinguisher against an electrical fire.

Protect & Detect’s experts are able to identify the appropriate extinguisher for your environment, and will ensure you are in line with all legal requirements.

Lastly, when the fire is successfully extinguished, do not leave it unattended straight away in case it re-ignites unexpectedly. If possible, remove fuel sources and clean the area of any hazards.

Protect & Detect is a leading fire safety and security company, servicing Ipswich, Colchester, Cambridge, Bury St. Edmunds, Chelmsford and beyond.

Protect & Detect offers a wide range of fire safety and security services including; fire alarms, fire extinguishers, burglar alarms, intruder alarms, fire sprinkler systems, access control, door entry systems, CCTV, barriers, nurse and warden calls. Contact our friendly team today for a quick quote.


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