Fire Extinguishers

Fire Extinguishers are an iconic and essential component of the fire fighting apparatus.  For small fires, a fire extinguisher may be all that is necessary to subdue the flames.  At UC Santa Cruz, fire extinguishers are regularly inspected and maintained for readiness at all times.  The design of a fire extinguisher also ensures that it can be used with minimal training and with little danger to the person using it.  

When to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Your first step in using a fire extinguisher should be to determine if use is appropriate in your situation.  The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) recommends using a fire extinguisher if "the fire is confined to a small area, such as a wastebasket, and is not growing; everyone has exited the building; the fire department has been called or is being called; and the room is not filled with smoke."  If these conditions are not met, do not use a fire extinguisher and instead promptly go to your designated Building Emergency Evacuation Area.

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Once you have committed to using a fire extinguisher, use the word PASS to guide your use:

  • Pull the Pin - Ensure that the nozzle of the Fire Extinguisher is facing away from you and remove the locking mechanism preventing you from squeezing the lever.
  • Aim Low - Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the Lever - Use slow, even force to squeeze the trigger and keep it consistent throughout your use.
  • Sweep - Sweep the direction of the nozzle from side to side to ensure that you are maximizing the area of coverage.

You can continue to use the fire extinguisher in this manner until the extinguisher is exhausted or conditions become unsafe for your continued use.  In that case, leave immediately towards your Building Emergency Evacuation Area.

Checking a Fire Extinguisher

UC Santa Cruz works with certified technicians and laboratories to ensure that fire extinguishers are properly maintained and ready for use.  If you are unsure about the readiness of a fire extinguisher, you can perform a visual inspection of a fire extinguisher by following these simple steps:

  • Check that the area around the fire extinguisher is free from clutter or any obstacles that would prevent easily accessing the fire extinguisher.
  • Check if the fire extinguisher has a tag indicating that it has been serviced within the last year. 
  • Check for a pressure gauge at the top area of the extinguisher that will have a highlighted area indicating the appropriate pressure for the extinguisher, ensure that the indicator is pointing in the highlighted area.  

If any of the above conditions are not met, report it immediately to the Designated Campus Fire Marshal.