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Techniques Firefighters Use To Handle Fire Extinguishers

Whether you’re employing a fire extinguisher yourself or teaching the public how to use it, firefighters should always stay informed on how to use a fire extinguisher correctly. Firefighters and civilians can use several different types of extinguishers to combat small fires. With ample knowledge and the right assortment of firefighting equipment on hand, firefighters help diminish many types of fires.

First responders often refer to the acronym PASS to remember the techniques firefighters use to handle fire extinguishers. These techniques help firefighters and laypeople alike employ a fire extinguisher safely and effectively.


“P” stands for “pull the pin.” You can find the pin at the top of the extinguisher. It keeps the handle from activating the extinguisher when in place. Once you pull the pin, the seal breaks and the extinguisher can release its agent. Make sure the nozzle faces away from you when pulling the pin.


“A,” stands for “aim.” Direct the nozzle toward the base of the fire. Suffocating the fuel source is the most effective way to put out a blaze. Always stay a safe distance away from the fire.


The first “S” is a reminder to “squeeze” the handles together. Squeezing the levers slowly and evenly ensures a steady release of the extinguishing agent. Once you let go of the handles, the extinguisher will stop its discharge.


The second “S” directs the extinguisher uses to “sweep” the nozzle while approaching the fire. If tackling a Class A fire, always check for hot spots that might reignite some flames.

Additional Maintenance Tips

In addition to having a comprehensive understanding of the PASS technique that firefighters use to handle fire extinguishers, firefighters must familiarize themselves with proper fire extinguisher maintenance. A few best practices include the following:

  • The extinguisher should always be easily accessible.
  • It should have a working gauge to indicate when extinguishing pressure is too high or too low.
  • Firefighters should check parts regularly to confirm they’re in good condition.
  • Double-check the manual to assess whether you need to shake it monthly or do anything specific to preserve its efficiency over time.

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