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How to Use Fire Extinguishers UK. Find Out How to Use Them…Now.

It is important to know how to use fire extinguishers. Although there are many different types, all of them operate in a similar manner. Don’t wait for a fire to occur before reading the instructions – that’s too late!

Also practice how to use fire extinguishers, by holding the equipment and then go through the motions of using it.  

Here is a useful acronym for quick reference –


Pull the Pin at the top of the extinguisher.

Aim at the base of the fire, not the flames.

Squeeze the lever slowly.

Sweep from side to side.

Fire Extinguishers are classified and colour coded according to the type of fire for which they are suitable. The four classes of fires are A, B, C and D: –

Class A Fires involve common combustibles such as, paper, textiles, wood, rubber, rubbish and plastic, which frequently occur in the home.

Class B Fires are associated with flammable liquids such as petrol, oil, paints, solvents and other oil-based products.These fires can spread rapidly unless they are properly dealt with and be aware that they often re-flash after the flames have been put out.

Class C Fires are associated with electrical hardware such as wiring, switches, controls, motors or machinery and are usually caused by a spark, a short circuit or a power surge and are likely to occur in situations that are difficult to see or reach.

Class D Fires involve flammable metals. (unusual in the home)

Class F Fires are the well-known pan fires.

Different Types of Fire Extinguishers UK and Their Use.

Water Extinguishers Class A- Colour- Red are suitable for most fires EXCEPT those involving flammable liquids or live electrical apparatus.
1. Aim the jet at the base of the flames and move it across the area of the fire.
2. Fight a fire spreading vertically by aiming at its lowest point and continue upwards.
3. After the main fire is extinguished always check for and deal with any hot spots remaining.

Standard or Multi-Purpose Dry Powder Class A, B and C- Colour- Blue. are suitable for most of fires, especially those involving flammable liquids or electrical apparatus.
1. On electrical fires, switch off the power then direct the jet straight at the fire.
2. If flowing liquids are on fire, aim the jet at the base of the flames and sweep upwards.
3. On fires involving liquids in containers, direct the jet towards the near edge of the fire and using a brisk sweeping motion, drive the fire towards the far edge, until all the flames are extinguished.
This is a good general extinguisher for domestic use.

Foam Extinguishers Class A & B-Colour- Cream. The AFFF type foam, is very effective on most fires except electrical and chip pan fires.
1. For solids, aim the jet at the base of the flames and move it over the area of the fire.
2. For liquids, don’t aim the foam straight at the fire, which can spread the fire onto the surrounding area, rather aim it at a vertical surface.
3. If the fire is in a container, direct the foam at the inside edge of the container, which allows the foam to build up and flow across the surface of the liquid to smother the fire.

CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) Extinguishers Class B-Colour-Black are suitable for risks involving flammable liquids and electrical fires.
1. Follow the instructions as for dry powder.
2. CO2 extinguishers should never be used in confined spaces due to the danger of the fumes being inhaled.
3. Do not hold the horn as it becomes very cold when in use.

Wet Chemical Extinguishers Class F-Colour -Yellow are ideal for fighting deep fat fryer and cooking oil fires (Class F). 1. Follow the instructions as for Foam Extinguishers.

Hints and Tips on How to Use Fire Extinguishers UK Before starting to fight a fire, ensure that the alarm has been raised.

  • Do not fight a fire if it is dangerous to do so; it is too large already, or is spreading rapidly.
  • The fire or smoke could prevent you escaping.
  • There are gas cylinders at risk from the fire.
  • Take up a position giving unrestricted access to the fire, but allowing for a quick and safe escape if necessary.
  • A crouching stance will help to keep you clear of smoke, avoid heat and allow you to get closer to the fire.
  • When tackling a fire outside a building, take care to position yourself up wind of the fire.
  • If in spite of your efforts the fire continues to grow, leave immediately and if possible close any doors behind you.

Ensure your fire extinguishers are maintained at least annually.

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