Fire Extinguisher Safety

Tips for proper location, inspection, and operation.

Wall-mounting a fire extinguisher prevents it from being relocated or damaged.

A fire extinguisher is key to the safety of every business. When used properly, a fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or controlling it until the fire department arrives. Portable extinguishers, intended for the home, are not designed to fight large or spreading fires. However, even against small fires, they are useful only under certain conditions:


To prevent fire extinguishers from being moved or damaged, they should be mounted on brackets or stored in wall cabinets with the carrying handles 3-1/2 to 5 feet above the floor.

In addition, a sign indicating the location of the fire extinguisher should be present.


Fire extinguishers need to be inspected at least monthly to ensure effective operation when needed.

When inspecting a fire extinguisher, ask the following questions:

• Is each fire extinguisher in its designated place, clearly visible, and not blocked by equipment, pallets, or other objects that could interfere with access during an emergency?

• Is the nameplate with operating instructions legible and facing outward?

• Is the pressure gauge showing a full charge?

• Are the pin and tamper seal intact?

• Is the extinguisher in good condition and showing no signs of physical damage, corrosion, or leakage?

• Have all dry powder fire extinguishers been rocked gently top to bottom to prevent powder from packing?


The PASS (pull, aim, squeeze, and sweep) technique is used to teach people how to use a fire extinguisher correctly.

To use a fire extinguisher properly, follow these steps:

1. Pull. Pull the pin. This will break the tamper-proof seal.

2. Aim. Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire.

3. Squeeze. Squeeze the handle to release the extinguishing agent.

4. Sweep. Sweep from side to side at the base of the fire until it appears to be extinguished.

Source: Joe Mlynek is president of Progressive Safety Services LLC, Gates Mills, OH;; and content creation expert for Safety Made Simple, Inc., Olathe, KS;

From Fourth Quarter 2021 Milling Journal