When to Fight the Fire And When Not To ?

When to Fight the Fire And When Not To

Fight the fire only if all of the following are true:

  • Everyone has left or is leaving the building.
  • The fire department is being called.
  • The fire is small and confined to the immediate area where it started (wastebasket, cushion, small appliance, etc.)
  • Your extinguisher is rated for the type of fire you are fighting AND is in good working order.
  • You know how to use the extinguisher and can operate it effectively

If you have the slightest doubt about whether you should fight the fire – DON’T! Instead, get out and close the door behind you.


Stay low. Avoid breathing the heated smoke and fumes or the extinguishing agent.

If the fire starts to spread or threatens your escape route, get out immediately, and close the door to contain the fire.

If you ever need to use an extinguisher, just think of the word “PASS”.

Pull the Pin at the top of the extinguisher. The pin releases a locking mechanism and will allow you to discharge the extinguisher.

Aim at the base of the fire, not the flames. This is important – in order to put out the fire, you must extinguish the fuel.

Squeeze the lever slowly. This will release the extinguishing agent in the extinguisher. If the handle is released, the discharge will stop.

Sweep from side to side. Using a sweeping motion, move the fire extinguisher back and forth until the fire is completely out. Operate the extinguisher from a safe distance,

Be sure to read the instructions on your fire extinguisher – different fire extinguishers recommend operating them from different distances. Remember: Aim at the base of the fire, not at the flames!!!

By following these procedures, a fire can be extinguished in the quickest and safest manner possible.

Extinguishers Must Fit the Fire

Class A extinguishers are for ordinary combustible materials such as paper, wood, cardboard and most plastics.

Class B fires involve flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, grease, and oil.

Class C fires involve energized electrical equipment, such as appliances, wiring, and outlets. Never use water to extinguish class C fires the risk of electrical shock is too great!

Class D fire extinguishers are for fires that involve
combustible metal alloys (commonly found in a chemical lab). The extinguisher must match the metal. It will be labeled with a list of metals that match the extinguishing agent.

Class K fire extinguishers are for fires that involve cooking oils, trans-fats, or fats in
cooking appliances and are typically found in restaurant and cafeteria kitchens.

When not to fight the fire

There are times when you should not fight a fire with a portable extinguisher:

  • IF the fire is spreading beyond the immediate area where it started or is already a large fire.
  • IF the fire could block your escape route.
  • IF you are in doubt about whether the extinguisher is the proper type for the fire at hand.

If even one of these conditions is true, leave immediately, close off the area, and leave the fire to the fire department.

A portable fire extinguisher can put out a small fire or contain it until the fire department arrives.

Portable extinguishers are not designed to fight a large or spreading fire. Even against small fires, they are useful only under the right conditions:

  • An extinguisher must be large enough for the fire at hand. It must be fully charged and in working order.
  • The operator must know how to use the extinguisher quickly without taking time to read directions during an emergency.
  • The operator must be reasonably strong to lift and operate the extinguisher

Fire Safety Quiz

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