Fire Extinguishers and how they work (and how they don’t)

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Back in the late 90’s I was working for a small operation.  We had three techs, a secretary and an owner. That was it. For perspective, cell phone tech was pretty new and cell phones were still considered a luxury.

We had a phone call come in.  The customer calling was incredibly angry. He had used eleven extinguishers and not a single one had worked. Not the phone call a fire protection company ever wants. One of our technicians loaded up the service truck and headed out. The fire was in a freight facility. It was a large fire and it finally burned itself out.

In the middle of the warehouse was the pile of fire extinguishers. The owner was there waiting to get after us for the failure. Almost every single extinguishers was pressurized still. The owner had pulled the pins and thrown the fire extinguishers into the fire like grenades. This isn’t how they work.

The customer got stuck with replacing every single one. Once a extinguisher has been in a fire it has to be removed from service. He didn’t put the fire out. Lost his freight. He had to pay for our time.

There is an easier way. There is an acronym PASS. Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep. If you can’t remember that there are pictures on the front of the bottle.

When you have a technician inspecting in your building feel free to ask him to show you how its done. If you have never gotten a hands on course, take the opportunity when you can. It isn’t difficult, but it is a skill that most people will have to use at some point in their lives.

This is a pretty decent video.

Fire Extinguisher training video.