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Video:How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

with Rod Brouhard

A fire extinguisher is an important safety item for any home or office - but knowing how to use it is even more crucial than owning one. Find out how to use a fire extinguisher properly.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Hi, I'm Rod Brouhard, your Guide to first aid at About.com. A fire extinguisher is an important safety item for any home or office. There are important things to remember when using and choosing a fire extinguisher.

When to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Fire extinguishers are meant for small fires. Regardless of the size of a fire, always call 911 for fires inside of buildings. Even if the fire is put out before the firefighters arrive, they can make sure it didn’t spread. Use a fire extinguisher when necessary, but as soon as you can, get out of the building.

Fire Extinguisher Technique

To use a fire extinguisher, remember the acronym PASS:
  • Pull the pin to prepare the fire extinguisher.
  • Aim the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire, where the burning items are located – not the top of the flames. Remember to always hold the fire extinguisher upright.
  • Squeeze the trigger to spray the chemical or water on the fire.
  • Sweep side to side to cover the burning items and extinguish the flames.

Fire Extinguisher Classifications

Choosing the correct fire extinguisher to keep on hand depends on the type of material that could catch on fire. Class A fire extinguishers are used on burning paper, wood and plastic. Class B fire extinguishers are used on flammable liquids such as gasoline or kerosene. Class C fire extinguishers are used on electrical components. Many class B fire extinguishers are also considered class C fire extinguishers. These are the most common classifications of fire extinguishers, although there are specialty classifications available.

Fire Extinguisher Maintenance

To maintain their effectiveness, fire extinguishers should be inspected or replaced on a regular schedule. Choose your fire extinguisher based on where you plan to use it. Regardless of the type of fire extinguisher, remember PASS: pull the pin, aim at the base - not the flames, squeeze the trigger and sweep side to side. Get out of any building where there’s a fire and Call 911 as soon as possible.

For more information, visit us on the Web at firstaid.about.com.

Special thanks to Salida Fire Department volunteers.
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