How do I operate an extinguisher?

The easiest way to remember how to use a fire extinguisher is to think of the P.A.S.S technique.

  • Pull the pin
  • Aim nozzle at the base of the fire
  • Squeeze the handle
  • Sweep the nozzle from side to side

Training at work

If you are an employer, you have a responsibility under the Safety, Health and Wefare Act (2005) to provide adequate training for equipment in the workplace.

How long will an extinguisher last when I use it?

Discharge times for various unit sizes range from eight to 40 seconds.

Portable Fire Extinguishers must always be refilled or replaced after use – even partial use.

Ongoing checks and maintenance

As an owner or person in control of a premises (under the Irish Standards 291:2002, which governs the use, siting, inspection and maintenance of extinguishers) you are required to have portable fire extinguishers inspected annually by a competent person and more often, if required, due to environment/other factors.

In addition, the standard recommends monthly user checks.

What are these monthly checks that I should carry out?

Confirm that all extinguishers are in their assigned location and have not become obstructed or hidden

  • Ensure pins and seals are intact
  • Check there is no visual evidence of damage, leakage, rust, corrosion or misuse
  • Check that gauges, if fitted, are in the green
  • Ensure nozzles are free of blockage

Test Discharge & Refilling Requirements under IS 291:2002

Foam & Water – every three years

CO2 & Powder – every five years

Best practice – 1/3 and 1/5 every year, which equalises cost and provides scope for training