Thomas Jefferson University

Main menu:

Fire Extinguisher Safety Guidelines

All fires can be very dangerous and life-threatening.  Your safety should always be your primary concern when attempting to fight a fire. 

Thomas Jefferson University buildings are equipped with fire extinguishers should a fire emergency occur.  Employees, students, and visitors are not expected to utilize the extinguisher to fight fires due to the possibility of harming themselves.  However, a fire extinguisher can be used to clear a safe path to an exit or “shoot your way out” of a building if you are trapped. 

The following information provides awareness about fire extinguishers types, how to use them, when to use them, the proper procedures to follow in the event of a fire as well as the care and maintenance of your extinguisher.

There are five (5) classes of fire extinguishers. Extinguishers are labeled with standard letters and symbols for the classes of fires that they can put out.

Class A - Ordinary combustibles - is made of foam or dry chemicals.

Class B - Flammable liquids or gases - is made of foam or carbon dioxide or halon.

Class C - Electrical equipment - is made from dry chemicals or halon.

Class D - Combustible metals - is made from dry powder agents designed for these types of metals.

Class K - Involve cooking oils used in commercial cooking equipment.

It is important to choose the correct extinguisher for the types of fires you anticipate. There are multi-purpose extinguishers with an ABC rating. These are good for multi-use however you should be aware that ABC-rated extinguishers can harm computers and other electronic equipment. Water extinguishers should not be used to extinguish electrical fires. It is best to research the types of extinguisher you may need with the environment you intend to use it for.

Here are the most common types of fire extinguishers:

Pressurized Water
2 1/2 Gallons
Range: 30-35 feet
To be used on Class A Fires (Wood, Paper, Trash, Bedding, etc.)

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
5 - 15 lbs.
Range: 4 - 6 feet
To be used on Class B Fires (Flammable Liquids) and on Class C Fires (Electrical)

NOTE: When using, do not grip or hold the nozzle.

Dry Chemical (ABC)
5 - 10 lbs.
Range: 12 - 20 feet
Can be used on Class A, B or C Fires

Halon (ABC)
5 - 10 lbs.
Range: 10 - 15 feet
Can be used on Class A, B or C Fires

Extinguishers can be purchased from most hardware stores, through extinguisher companies (check the internet) or some department stores.

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Remember P A S S

  • Pull the pin P  Pull
  • Aim the nozzle A Aim
  • Squeeze the trigger S Squeeze
  • Sweep the extinguisher at the base of the fire  S Sweep

Before Fighting a Fire be Sure:

  • 9-1-1 has been called.
  • You have been trained to operate the extinguisher.
  • Everyone not designated to use the extinguisher is leaving the area and the alarm has been sounded.
  • You have an unobstructed escape route in case you can’t put the fire out.
  • You know what’s burning and your extinguisher is right for the fire.
  • The fire is not larger than a small trash can.

Care & Maintenance of an Extinguisher

A fire extinguisher should be inspected once a month.  Ensure that:

  • The extinguisher is not blocked by equipment or objects that could interfere with access in an emergency.
  • The pressure is at the recommended level. 
  • The pin and tamper seal are intact.
  • The extinguisher is in good conditions.  There should be no dents, leaks, rust, or any chemical deposits.  Be sure to wipe off any chemicals that have landed on an extinguisher.
  • Conduct a hydrostatic testing when required to ensure that the cylinder is safe to use.  Consult manufacturer to see when extinguisher needs such testing. Replace extinguishers which are damaged or need recharging immediately!