• Extinguisher: Use Fire Extinguishers According to the Emergency Action Plan

    According to OSHA, every building with extinguishers is required to have an emergency action plan (EAP). In the event of a fire emergency, everyone needs to be in motion and take the appropriate action in order to survive without injury. For that reason, everyone will be assigned an action (according to the EAP). Here are how portable fire extinguishers play an important role in every building EAP.

    Fire extinguishers are strategically placed throughout buildings and always within 75 ft of any place that a fire could occur. When a fire occurs, three things occur simultaneously.

    Call the fire department; Extinguish the fire; Evacuate the building.

    These actions occur all at the same time, because seconds count. A person should never wait for the fire department to be called, or the evacuation to begin, before extinguishing the fire. Most often, the earlier a fire extinguisher is put into action, the better the results.

    According to OSHA [29 CFR 1910.157], where extinguishers are required or provided in the workplace, and where people will be evacuating during a fire, an emergency action plan (EAP) is required1.

    When a fire occurs, you do not begin reading the label on the extinguisher to determine if it is the right type. The right type extinguisher has been installed for the type of fire(s) that could occur in the area. The actions taken, during a fire emergency, are threefold…see the extinguisher, grab the extinguisher, and use the extinguisher. The Fire Equipment Manufacturers Association summarizes that message:


    The operating instructions on an extinguisher are intended to be read well before a fire emergency, so you should never stop to read them when a fire occurs. The operation of an extinguisher is intuitive and instinctive. To use an extinguisher, remember the word PASS, which stands for the following actions:

    • Pull the safety pin
    • Aim the hose at the base of the fire
    • Squeeze the handle and operating lever together
    • Sweep the discharging across the burning materials

    A fire extinguisher is most effective during the early stages of a fire, before it has a chance to become established and intensify. When a fire occurs, you should already know where the closest extinguisher is, so SEE IT, GRAB IT, and USE IT. To operate the extinguisher, remember PASS (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep). Others will remain safe, because your building EAP dictates whenever an extinguisher is being used on a fire, someone is calling the fire department, and occupants are evacuating.

    Fire departments appreciate everyone following the EAP. Upon arrival at a fire scene, they can quickly account for building occupants and make sure the fire is completely out and will not rekindle. Everyone’s actions, according to the EAP, will help assure the fire is extinguished and everyone is safe.

    An excellent site for FEDs and their customers, Fire Extinguisher Training covers many of these points in an easy-to-use, interactive format.

    1Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Evacuation Plans and Procedures eTool

    Click Here to view a PDF version

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    Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the above Tech Series article are the author’s only and provide limited information. Although the information is believed to be reliable, Brooks Equipment Company, LLC expressly disclaims any warranty with respect to the information and any liability for errors or omissions. The user of this article or the product(s) is responsible for verifying the information’s accuracy from all available sources, including the product manufacturer. The authority having jurisdiction should be contacted for code interpretations.