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What Are the Four Steps of the PASS Fire Extinguisher Technique?

Last Updated: September 26, 2023

Fire Protection Tips from State Systems

You hope you’ll never have to use a fire extinguisher, but it’s wise to know how just in case. After all, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an estimated 1.35 million fires were reported across the country in 2021. That’s equal to one fire every 23 seconds! Keep your home or business safe by brushing up on the PASS technique and other tips for using fire extinguishers safely.

The PASS Technique for Using a Fire Extinguisher*

To put the pressurized contents of a fire extinguisher to use, follow this four-step process:

  1. PULL the pin: The handle on top of the canister should have a pin going through it to prevent accidental discharge. Remove this pin. Some fire extinguishers have a lock latch or puncture level instead of a pin. Learn which one your extinguisher has before a fire breaks out.
  2. AIM the nozzle: Hold onto the handle with one hand and the end of the hose with the other. Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire to douse whatever’s burning. A common mistake is to aim at the flames themselves, which won’t do any good.
  3. SQUEEZE the handle: Depress the handle of the fire extinguisher, which sends fire suppressant flowing through the hose and out the nozzle.
  4. SWEEP the nozzle from side to side: Once fire suppressant is coming out, use a sweeping motion to thoroughly smother the fire. Continue this motion until the flames appear to be completely out. Watch the area closely for a few minutes in case the fire re-ignites, and use the extinguisher again if necessary.

*The PASS technique works for most fire extinguishers, but not all. Some shoot out fire suppressant in a rain-like manner and require you to aim up rather than sweeping across the base of the fire. The best suggestion is to learn what type of extinguisher you have and how it works before you need to use it.

Other Fire Extinguisher Tips

  • Use the right type of fire extinguisher: To be effective, the extinguisher you use should be designed to fight the type of fire you’re dealing with. Classifications include Class A (ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, and trash), Class B (flammable liquids), Class C (electrical fires), Class D (combustible metals), and Class K (cooking fires). Multipurpose ABC fire extinguishers are effective against most fires in a home or office setting, including residential kitchens. For grease fires in commercial kitchens, be sure to use a Class K extinguisher.
  • Know when to quit fighting and evacuate to safety: Only attempt to put out a fire if it’s small and contained and you have the proper extinguisher at your disposal. Then, call it quits and run to safety if the fire is spreading too quickly, becomes so hot that you can’t get close enough, or could block your only exit if it grows any larger. Once you’re safe, make sure the fire alarm has been triggered and call the fire department.

Schedule Fire Extinguisher Training

As a business owner in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, or Alabama, you want your employees to be as informed about using fire extinguishers as you are. Formal fire extinguisher training could make the difference between minor property damage and a total loss. Receiving proper instructions could even save lives!

State Systems offers hands-on fire extinguisher training by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, where we practice the PASS technique on a virtual fire and answer important questions about fire prevention and safety.

If you’re interested in fire extinguisher training for your business, please contact State Systems online or call us at 901-531-6550 to schedule a time.

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