Everyone has seen fire extinguishers, but not everyone understands them or knows how to work them. Fire 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 available and in working order, fully charged. The operator should be properly trained. The Office of Risk Management offers free fire extinguisher training. For course information, contact your Department Safety Liaison.
Fire extinguishers are labeled according to the type of fire on which they may be used. Fires involving wood or cloth, flammable liquids, electrical, or metal sources react differently to extinguishers. Using one type of extinguisher on the wrong type of fire could be dangerous and make matters even worse. Most of the extinguishers at the System Complex are ABC extinguishers and can be used to put out most types of fire.
There is a simple acronym to remember to operate most fire extinguishers - PASS. PASS stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze and Sweep.
- Pull the pin at the top of the cylinder
- Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire
- Squeeze the handle
- Sweep the nozzle from side to side at the base of the fire until it goes out
Continue watching the area even after the fire has been extinguished.
You should fight a fire with a fire extinguisher only when the following are true:
- Everyone has left or is evacuating the building
- The fire department has been called
- The fire is small and confined to the immediate areas where it started such as in a wastebasket
- You can fight the fire and still have an escape route.
- Your extinguisher is rated for the type of fire you are fighting and is in good working order
- You have had training in use of the extinguisher and are confident that you can operate it effectively
Remember, if you have the slightest doubt about whether or not to fight the fire - DON'T. Instead, get out, closing the door behind you to slow the spread of the fire.
For questions or comments regarding fire extinguishers at The University of Texas System Administration, or to attend a fire extinguisher training class, contact Risk Control at 512.499.4661.