Fire Extinguisher Selection and Use

Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)

Title 29, Part 1910 (OSHA), Section 157, Paragraphs g.1 & 2

  • “Where the employer has provided portable fire extinguishers for employees to use in the workplace, the employer shall also provide an educational program to familiarize employees with the general principles of fire extinguisher use and the hazards involved with incipient stage fire fighting.”
  • “The employer shall provide the education required…upon initial employment and at least annually thereafter.”

In Case of Fire

  1. Begin the fire alarm process by notifying the emergency communications center at DPS via one of the following methods:
    1. Activate an emergency pull station
    2. Dial 711 from campus phone
    3. Dial 911
    4. Dial #78 (#SU) on Sprint, Verizon or AT&T cell phones
    5. Utilize a blue light station
  2. Do not assume someone else has already notified the emergency services.
  3. Exit the building.

Chemistry of a Fire

Extinguishment Theory

To inhibit the chemical chain reaction causing combustion:

  • Remove Heat
  • Remove Fuel
  • Reduce Oxygen

Portable fire extinguishers apply an extinguishing agent that will either cool burning fuel, displace or remove oxygen, or stop the chemical reaction so a fire cannot continue to burn. That is they remove one of the legs of the fire triangle.

Extinguisher Selection vs. Fire Classification

Class A: Wood, paper, plastic, cloth

Class B: Flammable liquids, grease, gas

Class C: Electrical

Class K: Cooking oils and fats

ExtinguisherClass AClass BClass CClass K
Water ExtinguisherYesNoNoNo
CO2 ExtinguisherNoYesYesNo
ABC (Dry Chemical) ExtinguisherYesYesYesNo
Class K (Wet Chemical) Extinguisher YesNoNoYes

Extinguisher Characteristics

Water Extinguisher

  • Class A Fires (wood, paper, cloth)
  • 2.5 gal. H2O / 30 – 40 ft. range
  • Lasts 60 seconds

CO2 Extinguisher

  • Class B & C Fires (grease, oil, gas /electrical)
  • 2.5 -100 lbs. CO2 / 3 – 8 ft. range
  • Lasts 10 – 30 seconds

ABC Extinguisher (Dry Chemical)

  • Class A, B & C fires
  • 2.5 -20 lbs. dry chem. / 5 – 20 ft. range
  • Lasts 10 – 20 seconds

Class K (Wet Chemical) Extinguisher

  • Class K Fires -Commercial Restaurant Kitchens (Cooking Oil, Fats & Lards)
  • 6 ltr. Low pH Agent / 8 – 15 ft. range
  • Lasts 30 – 45 seconds


Remember R.A.C.E. to help you respond safely and correctly if there is a fire:

  • R = RESCUE anyone in immediate danger from the fire- if it does not endanger your life
  • A = ALARM sound the alarm by activating a pull station alarm box or by dialing 711 (Campus phone) or 911.
  • C = CONFINE the fire by closing all doors and windows that can be safely reached.
  • E = EXTINGUISH the fire with an extinguisher only if it is safe for you to do so or EVACUATE the area closing the door behind you.

Portable Fire Extinguisher Safety

P.A.S.S. Method

  • P = Pull the pin: This will allow you to squeeze the handle in order to discharge the extinguisher.
  • A = Aim at the base of the fire: Aiming at the middle will do no good. The agent will pass through the flames.
  • S = Squeeze the handle: This will release the pressurized extinguishing agent.
  • S = Sweep side to side: Cover the entire area that is on fire. Continue until fire is extinguished. Keep an eye on the area for re-lighting.

When NOT to Use a Fire Extinguisher

  • If you don’t have the correct type of extinguisher – Do you know what is burning?
  • If more than 1 extinguisher is needed.
  • If the fire is producing a large amount of smoke.
  • If the fire is more than 2 ft. high or is growing rapidly.

Other Helpful Tips

  • Always sound the alarm First – This makes sure help is notified and starts the evacuation process.
  • Report any and all fires immediately – Let the “Professionals” make sure it is out.
  • Always place yourself between the fire and your exit. Never use an extinguisher without knowing your escape route.
  • Do not turn your back on a fire – Even if you believe it is extinguished.
  • When in doubt – EVACUATE (Remember RACE) – You are not required to use an extinguisher.