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Knowing how to use a fire extinguisher could be a matter of life or death

Posted at 4:00 AM, Nov 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-08 06:43:19-05

CINCINNATI – If a small fire broke out in your home or workplace, would you know how to use a fire extinguisher?

Have you even thought about it?

Trisha Smith said she has never used one and admits the idea makes her nervous – even though she has three in her house.

“I’m a little nervous,” Smith said. “If it was actually happening, I know I would be nervous.”

Christine Kochanowski has worked at three restaurants but said she never received any training – even though a restaurant could be a danger zone in a fire.

“Behind a bar you have a lot of alcohol and it can quickly go up,” Kochanowski said.  “There’s spills on the bar. And if you didn’t know where they were and weren’t taught how to use them, it can go out of control pretty quickly.

“It is very important because you might be the closest person to save someone’s life or put out the fire before it gets out of hand.”

Per OSHA regulations, employers who have fire extinguishers in the workplace have to:

  • Educate all employees
  • Train designated workers to use one  

So WCPO went to Tony Wethington, branch manager of Koorsen Fire & Security, to learn how. The trick, Wethington said, is remembering this acronym: P-A-S-S.

P is for PULL the pin;

A is for AIM to the base of the fire;

S is for SQUEEZE the handle;

S is for SWEEP the hose back and forth.

Once you’ve got your fire extinguisher set up, the trick is to aim at the base of the fire, Wethington said.

“If you hit the top the flames, as heat rises, it pushes the powder away from the fire, so the idea is to hit the base where the ignition point is.”

At home you want to have at least one fire extinguisher per floor - and get it checked once a year.

“We can take a look at it and make sure all the maintenance is proper on it. Replace parts if need be as well as recharge with new propellant,” Wethington said.