Published 01.15.24

Giving your Employees the Skills to Suppress a Fire

Knowing how to properly use a fire extinguisher can mean the difference between stopping a fire in its tracks, or experiencing a large catastrophe.

Knowing how to properly use a fire extinguisher can mean the difference between stopping a fire in its tracks, or experiencing a large catastrophic fire that causes extensive damage. That’s why making sure your employees are trained to operate an extinguisher and safely put out a fire is so crucial. 

Having portable fire extinguishers in an occupied building is required by your local code — and employee training on how to use those fire extinguishers is also an OSHA requirement.* This training should take place shortly after an employee is hired and then every year thereafter, although the local authority having jurisdiction for your facility may require more frequent training.

Comprehensive fire extinguisher training:

  • Educates your employees on the basics of fire extinguisher locations, proper procedures, safe evacuation routes and more
  • Helps your team feel empowered and confident in their skills to react quickly during a fire emergency
  • Increases the likelihood that a small fire will be suppressed before it grows and gets out of control
  • Raises awareness of the potential hazards involved in fighting early-stage fires

A professional fire extinguisher training program should always include:

  • A review of where the fire extinguishers in a building are located, so employees can quickly find them in an emergency
  • A discussion on the most common causes of fires and how to identify key risks within a specific building, including the kitchen area and electrical sources
  • An overview of the different classes of fires and which types of extinguishers are rated best for each
    Step-by-step instruction on properly operating a fire extinguisher, using the PASS (Pull, Aim, Squeeze and Sweep) Method. Once activated, a fire extinguisher will only discharge for about 20 seconds, so using it efficiently is key.
  • Training on how to assess a fire situation to determine when to attempt to extinguish a fire before professional help arrives, and when it’s best to evacuate immediately

Remember, improper use of a fire extinguisher will be ineffective for putting out a fire — and it can also potentially cause injuries or make a fire even worse. In addition to online training classes, Cintas offers on-site training in both indoor and outdoor settings to help make sure your employees are well-equipped to correctly operate an extinguisher and bring a fire under control.

*OSHA 1910.157
“Where the employer has provided portable fire extinguishers for employee use in the workplace, the employer shall also provide an educational program to familiarize employees with the general principles of fire extinguisher use and the hazards involved with incipient stage fire fighting.”