You might not realise it, but there is a proper way to use a fire extinguisher. The PASS technique is an easy-to-remember method for using a fire extinguisher effectively.
But what does PASS stand for and why is it so critical for fire safety in the workplace? Keep reading to discover how PASS can give you the perfect fire extinguisher technique when it matters most.
Why Fire Extinguishers are Important for Fire Safety in the Workplace
Fires can start in seconds and tear through a building in just minutes. You may only have a small window of opportunity to put out a fire once it’s begun.
If a fire does break out, a fire extinguisher is often the first line of defence. The number of fires in the UK that were put out using portable fire extinguishers rose from 80% in 2003 to 93% in 2021.
Sadly, many don’t know how to use firefighting equipment or what to do if a fire starts. According to a recent survey, about 85% of tradespeople in the UK don’t know what they should do during a fire. That’s almost one in every ten!
Most people assume that using a fire extinguisher is as simple as grabbing it, pointing it at a fire and letting it rip. But this isn’t quite the case. Fire extinguishers aren’t simply point-and-click devices. To be effective, you must use the correct technique and extinguisher.
What Does PASS Stand For?
Being able to react calmly and quickly in an emergency is crucial. Knowing the PASS mnemonic will ensure that you can recall the correct way to use a fire extinguisher when the pressure is on. But what does PASS stand for in fire safety?
PASS stands for:
Let’s take a look at each of these steps in greater detail.
When using a fire extinguisher, the first action is to Pull out the safety pin in the handle. This will allow you to depress the handle and activate the extinguisher.
Next, you need to take Aim at the fire. Cautiously approach the fire and ready the extinguisher. Always point the nozzle or the outlet of the fire extinguisher toward the base of the flames. If you aim too high, then the spray from the extinguisher may not properly suppress the source of the blaze.
Squeeze the trigger on the extinguisher’s handle slowly, firmly, and evenly. Depress it and point the extinguisher at the flames until it is empty.
While the extinguisher releases its contents, Sweep it from side to side across the base area of the fire. If the fire does go out, but there are still contents in the extinguisher, keep sweeping the base until the extinguisher is empty. This will stop the fire from reigniting.
Not all Fire Extinguishers Are the Same
You’ve probably passed by thousands of fire extinguishers and never paid them the slightest notice. Using the wrong type of fire extinguisher or misusing it could result in a blaze becoming worse or you causing injury to yourself or others.
So, never attempt to extinguish a fire unless you have been trained and understand the type of fire and the extinguisher you are using.
There are five different types of fire extinguishers, each one with a specific purpose:
Please note: You should only use a fire extinguisher to fight a fire if you are sure it is safe, so you have a good chance of putting the fire out. Otherwise, follow the correct fire emergency procedures, exit the building and alert the authorities.
Real-World Examples of the PASS Technique
Given proper training, understanding PASS can save lives and property. Take the recent case of 56-year-old filling station attendant Debbie Swinson. Debbie used a fire extinguisher to save a man’s life after he caught fire at a fuel pump. Debbie’s proficiency with PASS enabled her to douse the flames before emergency services arrived, prevent further injury, and stop the fire from spreading further.
Another example of good fire extinguisher use was when Paul Fulton, the head janitor of the Newark Primary School, extinguished a blaze set by vandals and saved the school from considerable damage. Although off-duty at the time. Paul saw smoke and was able to put out a burning tyre with a nearby fire extinguisher, effectively stopping the blaze from damaging the school equipment and grounds. This was the second time Paul had to use a fire extinguisher to extinguish a fire caused by vandals. The first incident involved a fire on the school’s sports pitches. Paul had to use three fire extinguishers to get the blaze under control.
Debbie and Paul show why having the correct fire extinguisher technique is crucial in an emergency. If you have the perfect PASS technique, you might be able to wield a fire extinguisher as decisively as Paul and Debbie did.
Why Fire Extinguisher Training is Critical
Knowing how to use a fire extinguisher properly could help stop a fire from destroying your business and possibly even save someone’s life.
Our Fire Extinguisher Training course will teach you and your team how to use fire extinguishers correctly and effectively. The course can be taken online and runs for approximately half an hour.