Fire extinguishers reduce property damage and control the spread of a fire, but they're only effective when used correctly. Many people have little experience using a fire extinguisher, which may lead to confusion when the time comes to actually use one. P.A.S.S. -- Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep -- is an easy-to-remember acronym to help anyone operate a fire extinguisher without training or experience. By keeping the P.A.S.S. technique in mind, you can quickly and effectively get a fire under control when every second counts.
Step 1: Pull
Hold the fire extinguisher so the nozzle is pointing away from you. Pull out the metal pin on the handle. This pin is designed to prevent tampering and to keep the extinguisher from accidentally discharging. When you pull the pin, the tamper seal around the handle breaks, readying the extinguisher for action.
Step 2: Aim
Once you've pulled the pin, hold the extinguisher in one hand and use the other hand to hold the hose nozzle, also known as a horn. Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire for maximum impact.
Step 3: Squeeze
Squeeze the extinguisher handle slowly and evenly to release the extinguishing agent. Keep your hands out of the way of the spray to avoid wasting extinguishing agent and to reduce your risk of injury when using certain types of fire extinguishers.
Step 4: Sweep
Maintain slow, even pressure on the handle and sweep the nozzle back and forth across the base of the fire until it has been extinguished. If the fire reignites, repeat the "Aim, Squeeze, Sweep" technique until the extinguisher is empty, help arrives or you no longer feel safe and need to evacuate.
The most important thing to know about using a fire extinguisher is that you should only use one when it's safe to do so. This means making sure the space has been evacuated, the fire department has been called, and you've made sure you have a safe escape route if the fire gets out of control. When in doubt, leave the area.