To comply with OSHA standards, and to maintain safety at all times, your workplace should be equipped with several fire extinguishers (1). While this is an excellent first step, knowing how to use a fire extinguisher is also essential. Why? When a fire occurs, you'll likely not have enough time to read the instructions on the canister. Without knowing exactly how to use the extinguisher beforehand, valuable seconds could be wasted, which may lead to property damage or even loss of life.
While there are different designs, an ABC fire extinguisher is the most common portable type in use today (2). According to the NFPA, these should be operated using the PASS Method (3). Fortunately, this is a simple and straightforward process, which is easy to follow in an emergency situation.
To fight a fire using the PASS Method:
- Pull up on the pin at the top of the extinguisher. This releases the locking mechanism, allowing the lever to be pressed and the extinguishing agent to be released.
- Aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire. You may be tempted to aim at the middle of the blaze and near the top of the flames, but this is counterproductive. Your main goal should be to douse the fuel that is feeding the fire.
- Squeeze the lever to release the extinguishing agent toward the base of the flames.
- Sweep the unit in a side-to-side motion, to direct the extinguishing agent in an efficient manner. Keep this up until the fire is completely extinguished. As it diminishes, move closer to direct more force at the base of the fire, but make sure to maintain a safe distance at all times.
For optimal workplace safety, all fire extinguishers need to be visible and easily accessible for employees. OSHA recommends that all employees go through fire extinguisher training so they feel confident in their ability to use a fire extinguisher (4). Most importantly, fire extinguishers should be inspected and tested on a regular basis by a certified professional. Malfunctioning or defective extinguishers should be replaced immediately.
In addition to maintain a safe workplace, also be sure your home is equipped with high-quality fire extinguishers and that every member of your household knows where they are located and how to use them.
You can ensure that the extinguishers you use are of the utmost quality, by turning to the experts at Koorsen Fire & Security. Contact us today to request fire extinguishers or fire extinguisher training.