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Instructions for Using a Fire Extinguisher [return to fire safety index]

If you discover a fire in its earliest (incipient) stage, you may choose to attempt to extinguish the fire using a fire extinguisher. However, you are under no obligation to attempt to extinguish the fire.

You may choose to use a fire extinguisher ONLY under the following conditions:
  • The fire is in its earliest stage, and smoke and flame pose no immediate
    threat to you.
  • A person has been sent to activate the fire alarm system, and to call
    University Police and Security at 863-4111.
  • Another person is standing by to assist you.
  • You feel that you can control the fire in 15 seconds or less.
Types of Fire Extinguishers [return to fire safety index]

You must select an appropriate extinguisher for the type of fire you hope to
extinguish. There are three basic classifications for Fire Extinguishers:
  • Using an inappropriate fire extinguisher may cause physical injury to the
    user, and can actually intensify the fire, so be sure to check the label
    on the front of the extinguisher to match it with the type of fire you are
  • Most of the fire extinguishers you will find on campus are "Multipurpose"
    or "ABC" type extinguishers. These units are designed to be safe and
    effective in fighting any of the three most common types of fires:
    Ordinary Combustibles, Flammable Liquids, and electrical fires.
  • Extinguishers are located near the door of most labs, and in the
    hallways, or near the exits of most University buildings.
Using a Fire Extinguisher [return to fire safety index]

If you choose to fight the fire, follow these steps:
  • Don’t let the fire block your way out. Keep your back to an
    unobstructed exit.
  • Stand six to eight feet from the fire.
  • Remember the "PASS" procedure shown below.


Pull the pin to unlock the operating lever.


Aim low. Direct agent at the base of the fire.


Squeeze the handle to discharge the agent.


Sweep from side to side and from front to back.

Never assume the fire has been extinguished! Watch for re-ignition!

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Office of Environmental Health & Safety
Last updated on 07/11/2005
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