Revised on
01/29/18 11:13am
SafetyNet #

Operating Portable Fire Extinguishers

A. Summary

A fire extinguisher is a vessel containing a fire retardant material, such as water or chemicals. Fire extinguishers are first-aid fire-fighting appliances designed to extinguish small fires. A small fire is a fire no larger than the size of a 5 gallon bucket. Extinguishers are labeled according to their capabilities for putting out fires in wood or paper, grease or gasoline, or energized electrical equipment. You will find the following symbols on fire extinguishers at the UC Davis campus:

CLASS A:   Will put out fires in ordinary combustibles, such as wood and paper.

Class A

CLASS B:    Suitable for use on flammable liquids, such as grease, gasoline, oil, etc.

Operating Portable Fire Extinguishers

CLASS C:   Suitable for use on electrical fires.

Class C

  • A BC rated extinguisher will extinguish class B and C fires only.
  • An ABC” rated extinguisher will extinguish all three classes of fire.

Report to UC Davis Fire Prevention Services (530-752-1493) on the UC Davis campus if you encounter discharged extinguishers, missing extinguishers, or extinguishers whose gauge is registering “recharge”. Dial 9-1-1 for emergencies.

B. Directions for Operating Portable Fire Extinguishers

You can operate most fire extinguishers following four simple steps that are easily remembered using the acronym P-A-S-S:


Extinguisher PullStand back from the fire and pull the pin.


 Extinguisher AimAim the nozzle at the base of the fire.


 Extinguisher SqueezeSqueeze the handles together.


Extinguisher SweepSweep from side to side at the base of the flames.

P-A-S-S will work for most extinguishers. Become familiar with all fire extinguishers in your work area. Know where they are located and what type they are (Class A, B, C, or multi-purpose). Extinguish it, but only after instructing another staff member to report it by dialing 9-1-1.

All fires must be reported, regardless of the size. A Fire Department representative will determine if the fire is completely extinguished. Never leave a smoldering fire.