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Using A Fire Extinguisher

It only takes a short, few minutes for a spark to grow into a blaze. Knowing when and how to use a fire extinguisher can help save lives and property. Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist, said fire extinguishers can be helpful in small fires but encouraged people to get properly trained on how to use the apparatus. “Contact your local fire department for training on how to use and maintain fire extinguishers,” she said.


Generally, there are five main types of fire extinguishers, Classes A-D and K. Each is designed to be effective in a different kind of fire. For instance, Class A fire extinguishers are labeled for use with ordinary materials such as cloth, wood and paper. Meanwhile, Class B apparatuses can be used with combustible and flammable liquids such as grease, gasoline or oil. Class C extinguishers are marked for use with electrical equipment such as appliances or tools. There also are multipurpose extinguishers, which could be labeled B-C or A-B-C. These can be purchased in most home improvement stores.


According to the U.S. Fire Administration, a good way to remember how to use a fire extinguisher is to think of the word PASS.

  • Pull the pin and point the nozzle away from the user.
  • Aim low toward the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the lever slowly and steadily.
  • Sweep the nozzle from side to side.


Finally, maintaining a fire extinguisher so it is in proper working order is important. The apparatus should be stored in an easy-to-reach location and kept free of dust and oil.

“Regularly check all the fire extinguishers in your hose to make sure they are at the correct pressure levels and none of the parts are broken, rusted or damaged,” Peek said. “Some fire extinguishers need to be shaken monthly, while others should be pressure tested every few years.”

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