Avoid These Common Mistakes When Using a Fire Extinguisher

Using a Fire Extinguisher: Common Mistakes to Avoid


Being able to effectively use a fire extinguisher is a crucial skill that everyone should possess. It can save lives and prevent extensive damage. However, many people make common mistakes when using a fire extinguisher, which can put themselves and others at risk. In this article, we will explore these mistakes and provide you with valuable tips and insights on how to avoid them, ensuring that you can confidently handle a fire emergency when it arises.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using a Fire Extinguisher

1. Neglecting regular inspections and maintenance

Regular inspections and maintenance of your fire extinguisher are imperative to ensure its correct functioning. Neglecting this essential step can result in a faulty extinguisher during a critical moment. Check the pressure gauge, seals, and pull pin regularly to make sure they are in proper working condition. Additionally, ensure that the extinguisher is not obstructed by any objects that may impede its accessibility during an emergency. By routinely checking and maintaining your fire extinguisher, you can be confident that it will operate effectively when needed the most.

2. Choosing the wrong type of extinguisher

Different types of fires require different types of fire extinguishers. A common mistake people make is not understanding the various types of fire extinguishers and their suitable applications. The most common types of fire extinguishers include water, foam, carbon dioxide, and dry chemical extinguishers. Each type is designed to combat specific fire classes, such as Class A (ordinary combustibles), Class B (flammable liquids and gases), Class C (electrical fires), and Class D (flammable metals). Understanding the appropriate extinguisher for a given situation is crucial as using the wrong type can potentially exacerbate the fire or put the user in danger.

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3. Failing to remember the “PASS” technique

During a fire emergency, it is crucial to remember and apply the “PASS” technique: Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep. This method ensures the most effective use of a fire extinguisher. Firstly, pull the pin to unlock the extinguisher. Next, aim the nozzle or hose at the base of the fire. Squeeze the handle to discharge the extinguishing agent, and finally, sweep the nozzle from side to side, covering the base of the fire until it is completely extinguished. By adhering to the “PASS” technique, you can effectively control or extinguish a fire, preventing it from spreading further.

4. Standing too close to the fire

Maintaining a safe distance between yourself and the fire is crucial when using a fire extinguisher. One common mistake is standing too close to the flames, which can put you at risk of injury. It is recommended to maintain a safe distance of at least 6 to 8 feet from the fire. This distance ensures your safety while allowing you to effectively aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire. By standing too close, you may inhibit your ability to control the fire and potentially harm yourself in the process.

5. Insufficient knowledge of fire escape routes

Having a clear understanding of fire escape routes is vital in any emergency situation. However, people often overlook this aspect, leading to chaos and confusion during a fire incident. Familiarize yourself with the escape routes and fire exits in your home or workplace, ensuring you can quickly evacuate yourself and others to safety. It is important to remember that extinguishing a fire should only be attempted if it is safe to do so and if evacuation is not compromised. Never endanger yourself or others by using a fire extinguisher if it puts you in harm’s way.

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6. Not calling emergency services immediately

While a fire extinguisher can be a valuable tool in combating small fires, it is crucial to remember that emergency services should be contacted as soon as possible when dealing with any fire. Even if you manage to extinguish a fire, it is essential that professional firefighters inspect the area to ensure there are no hidden embers or potential hazards. Delaying the call to emergency services can lead to unforeseen consequences and the re-ignition of the fire. Always prioritize your safety by promptly alerting emergency services and following their instructions.


Properly using a fire extinguisher is a vital skill that can save lives and prevent property damage. By avoiding common mistakes such as neglecting maintenance, selecting the wrong type of extinguisher, forgetting the “PASS” technique, standing too close to the fire, lacking knowledge of fire escape routes, and not calling emergency services immediately, you can confidently handle fire emergencies. Remember that the safety of yourself and others should always be the top priority. By following these tips and avoiding these mistakes, you can become better prepared to address fire incidents effectively and minimize the potential risks involved.

FAQs Related to Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using a Fire Extinguisher

1. How often should I inspect my fire extinguisher?

Regular inspections of your fire extinguisher should be conducted at least once a month to ensure it is in proper working condition. Additionally, professional maintenance should be performed annually to thoroughly check and service the extinguisher.

2. What are the different types of fire extinguishers?

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The most common types of fire extinguishers include water, foam, carbon dioxide, and dry chemical extinguishers. Each type is designed for specific fire classes: Class A (ordinary combustibles), Class B (flammable liquids and gases), Class C (electrical fires), and Class D (flammable metals).

3. Can I use a fire extinguisher on an electrical fire?

No, using a fire extinguisher on an electrical fire can be extremely dangerous. In such instances, immediately disconnect the power source if possible and make sure everyone is evacuated safely. Call emergency services to handle the situation properly.

4. Can I refill the fire extinguisher myself?

It is not recommended for individuals to refill fire extinguishers themselves, as it requires specialized equipment and knowledge. Instead, contact a professional fire protection company to handle the refilling process to ensure the extinguisher is properly serviced.

5. How should I dispose of an expired fire extinguisher?

Expired fire extinguishers should not be thrown in regular garbage or recycling bins. Contact your local fire department or hazardous waste facility for proper disposal instructions. They can guide you on the appropriate methods to dispose of the extinguisher safely and in compliance with environmental regulations.

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