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Tennessee State Fire Marshal Shares Tips on Proper Fire Extinguisher Use


Tennessee State Fire MarshalNashville, TN – A portable fire extinguisher can be a helpful piece of safety equipment when it comes to putting out a small fire, but the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office reminds Tennesseans that extinguishers have limitations.

Because fire grows and spreads so rapidly, the number one priority for residents during a fire incident is to get outside quickly and safely.

Fire Extinguisher Safety Tips.

Fire Extinguisher Safety Tips.

“Fire moves incredibly fast. A small fire can become a large one in seconds,” said State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “For this reason, the State Fire Marshal’s Office recommends that portable fire extinguishers should only be used by adults who know how to operate them.”

While fire extinguishers can be impactful, it’s important to know not only how to use them, but when. The State Fire Marshal’s Office shares the following tips from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) regarding fire extinguishers.

Use a Fire Extinguisher only if:

  • The fire is confined to a small area, such as a wastebasket, and is not growing.
  • Everyone is exiting the building and someone has called or is calling 9-1-1.
  • The room is not filled with smoke.
  • You have a means of escape identified and the fire is not between you and the escape route.
  • You have the proper extinguisher for the fire. For the home, select a multi-purpose extinguisher that can be used on several types of fire, such as those extinguishers labeled ‘A-B-C.’ It should be large enough to put out a small fire, but not so heavy that it is hard to handle.

Additional fire extinguisher safety tips:

To operate a fire extinguisher, remember the word PASS:

  • Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you, and release the locking mechanism.
  • Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
  • Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.

Choose a fire extinguisher that carries the label of a recognized independent testing laboratory.

Read the instructions that come with the fire extinguisher and become familiar with its parts, operation, and maintenance. Local fire departments often offer hands-on fire extinguisher trainings.

If the fire does not go out after using one extinguisher, get out.

Know when to go. Fire extinguishers are one element of a fire response plan, but the primary element is safe escape. Every household should have a home fire escape plan and working smoke alarms.

For more information on how to make your home fire-safe, print the State Fire Marshal’s home fire safety checklist and escape grid. Tennesseans in need of a smoke alarm can also utilize the SFMO’s online alarm request form.




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