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Know How You Should Use Fire Extinguishers in Case of Emergencies

A fire extinguisher is a portable device that is used for extinguishing small fires. This write-up provides information about the basic types of fire extinguishers and instructions on using them.
Saptakee Sengupta
Last Updated: Mar 12, 2018
Fire extinguishers are installed in workplaces, shopping outlets, and houses to douse a fire in case of emergency. They serve as the most useful fire safety units at work zones and one must always know how to use them during a sudden fire breakout. A fire extinguishing cylinder contains a discharging agent which is pressure filled and let off on a fire for the purpose of extinguishing it.
Whether a fire extinguisher is being installed in a workplace or a house, it's advisable to learn about the technical aspects of the device and install it in the correct place. A regular inspection of these units is carried out at work zones with large-scale manpower. Fire extinguishing training is also provided to people, so that they can use the device effectively in emergency situations.
  • Water extinguishers are red in color and are suitable to be applied over wood, textiles, and paper or any type of Class A fires. They should never be let off in an electrical fire or Class B fire.
  • Carbon dioxide extinguishers that come as black cylinders are used for liquid fires or Class B fires. They are usually found in workplaces that have extensive electric supplies.
  • Foam fire extinguishers or the AFFF (Aqueous Film Forming Foam) are meant for Class A and B fires. The foaming agent prevents the fire from spreading by cutting off the oxygen supply. The color code for AFFF bottles is cream.
  • Wet chemical ones are devised for dousing flames from cooking oil, butter, lard, and fatty substances. They show instant action and prevent re-ignition of fire. Their color code is yellow.
  • Dry powder types are known to be the most versatile, and have the color code as blue. These can be used in any type of fire outbreak, viz., Class A, B, and C types. They work best for liquid fires but you should be careful while spraying them in confined places.
  • The color code of halon extinguishers is green, and it is illegal to own or use them as per federal laws. Legal use is permitted only in aircraft, armed forces, and police. It was banned for causing depletion to ozone layer.
Procedure to Use
The correct procedure for using the various types of extinguishers differs from each other. The instructions are clearly explained on the cylinder and you can follow the same. However, there are certain precautions that you should always know before opening the nozzle. Always keep the mouth directed towards the fire and keep yourself at a safe distance from the fire, as well as from the mouth of the cylinder.
  • The extinguisher has a pin on the top. First pull the pin to release the lock for subsequent discharge of the anti-fire or the extinguishing agent.
  • Then, point the nozzle of the mouth at the bottom or the base of the fire. Never spray directly on the flames.
  • Squeeze the top of the handle or the lever to discharge the extinguishing agent efficiently.
  • When you squeeze the handle, the button below it gets pressed and the chemical or the water gets discharged. Releasing the handle stops the discharge of the agent.
  • Keep spraying it in a side wise sweeping motion and keep yourself at a certain distance so that the flames do not cause irritation to you.
  • Release the handle after the fire has been put off. Wait for sometime to ensure that the fire has been completely extinguished.
During a fire outbreak, always set the fire alarm system on, so that the rescue team arrives immediately at your doorstep before any major damage has been caused.
Foam fire extinguisher in action
Fire extinguishers: Carbon dioxide, Foam, Powder and Water