Using a Fire Extinguisher - fire-ext

Using a Fire Extinguisher


Loss Prevention, Insurance Tips Advice

A common mistake among homeowners is to assume that everyone in your household knows how to use a fire extinguisher, it seems simple right? The truth is that many children, and often many adults, do not know the proper use of a fire extinguisher and may not resort to even using it in an emergency.

When our Erie Mutual Insurance Loss Prevention Representatives visit the homes we insure they often ask if everyone knows how to use the fire extinguisher. In most cases, the answer is yes, but some admit that their positive reply is because they would be embarrassed to confess that they actually do not know. We understand that you may be uncomfortable telling your insurance company about any lack of knowledge in the use of this equipment. Trust us, it really is okay and you are not alone in not knowing. Of course, we want you to know and we would be glad to show you if needed and we are also available to help answer any questions you may have. If you visit the Loss and Risk page of our website there are short videos available on the type of fire extinguisher you should have, how to use a fire extinguisher and how to put out a grease fire. We are always looking to add additional content which will be of value. Please give them a quick view when you have a chance.

Here are some additional tips and information to help you be better equipped to use your fire extinguisher just in case needed. We hope you never have reason to use it, but it is definitely important information for everyone to know.

First, and most important. Keep your fire extinguisher in an area where it is easily accessible. We always recommend that an extinguisher is kept in or near the kitchen of your home. Many fires start while cooking. You may want to also consider keeping a fire extinguisher in the garage, basement or other areas of concern where a fire is likely to occur.

Secondly, make sure that you purchase a fire extinguisher that you can handle. A larger fire extinguisher may work be better able to put out the fire, but it is of no use to you if it is too heavy or awkward to hold. A small extinguisher is most suitable for many homes.

Finally, always remember that if a fire becomes uncontrollable it is best to get out of the home quickly. Forget any heroics at this point, your safety is most important.  Get out first, then contact the fire department.

If you find yourself in need of using a fire extinguisher at any time, the acronym PASS may be the best way to remember the proper steps.


  1. Pull the pin.
  2. Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire (hitting the flame at the top with a fire extinguisher will not be effective).
  3. Squeeze the trigger (in a controlled manner to release the agent).
  4. Sweep from side to side (until the fire is put out).


Please remember that there are always various sources available to help you should you have questions about your fire extinguisher, or any fire safety in general. The internet provides you immediate access to information with diagrams, video and more. For those who may not be as tech savvy with the use of a computer that is okay too. We encourage you to contact your local fire department or county office to speak with a representative, a fire prevention officer or firefighter should be able to assist in answering your questions or addressing your concerns.

As an insurer protecting our community we always are interested in the safety of your home, your property, and your family. Stay safe!


Article Written by Darcy Johnson

Erie Mutual Insurance Manager – Sales, Marketing & Business Development

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