firemen put out a fire with an extinguisher
firemen put out a fire with an extinguisher

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Know how to use a fire extinguisher before you are in a situation where you have to use it.

Fire extinguishers are labeled according to the type of fire on which they may be used. Fires involving wood or cloth, flammable liquids, electrical current or a combination of those will each react differently to extinguishers. Using the wrong type of extinguisher on a particular type of fire could be dangerous and make matters even worse. In the heat of the moment reading the directions on the extinguisher is an after-thought. Check out our Foundation Findings on Fire Extinguishers for more information.

Remember the P-A-S-S word!

  • Pull the pin at the top of the cylinder
  • Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire
  • Squeeze or press the handle
  • Sweep the contents from side to side at the base of the fire until it goes out

Mounting and Storage

The time it takes to find a fire extinguisher in a cluttered locker could mean the mounting difference between saving your boat or having to jump overboard. A properly mounted fire extinguisher should be at every exit and near the engine compartment. This keeps your back to your escape route and an extinguisher ready near the likely sources of fire aboard. In the galley, an extinguisher should be mounted so you do not have to reach over the stove.

On open motorboats, fire extinguishers should be mounted in an easily accessible location. A non-marine-rated fire extinguisher could have parts that corrode or do not secure it firmly to a moving boat. Be sure to purchase a marine-rated fire extinguisher that has a noncorrosive metal or plastic bracket that can secure it firmly to a vertical surface.