County of Monmouth

For Immediate Release:

August 22, 2014


Fire extinguishers could save your life

Proper use of fire extinguishers saves lives and property


FREEHOLD, NJ – Having a fire extinguisher in your home is a great idea. Monmouth County officials remind residents that knowing how to properly use a home fire extinguisher is an even better idea. 


“Fire extinguishers are a great safety tool,” said Freeholder John P. Curley, liaison to the County Fire Marshal’s Office. “Fire extinguishers use requires a rapid, but sound decision making process. Getting training on the proper use and maintenance of this life saving tool is key.”


“Before purchasing a fire extinguisher, it is important to be aware that not all fire extinguishers are used for the same purpose,” said County Fire Marshal Henry Stryker III. “For the home, you should select a multi-purpose extinguisher that can be used on all types of home fires; it should also be large enough to put out a small fire, but not so heavy as to be difficult to handle.”


Read the instructions that accompany your fire extinguisher. You should become familiar with the extinguisher’s parts and operation.  Be sure to install it in a location that is convenient to get to if a fire were to occur in your home.


Use a fire extinguisher only if:

  • You have alerted other occupants and someone has called the fire department;
  • The fire is small and contained to a single object, such as a wastebasket;
  • You are safe from the toxic smoke produced by the fire;
  • You have a means of escape identified and the fire is not between you and the escape route; and
  • Your instincts tell you that it is safe to use an extinguisher.

“If all of these conditions are not present, you should not try to use a fire extinguisher,” said Curley. “Alert other occupants, leave the building following your home fire escape plan, go to the agreed upon meeting place and call the fire department or 9-1-1.”


To operate a fire extinguisher, remember the word PASS:

  • Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you, and release the locking mechanism.
  • Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
  • Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.

“A portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives, but be mindful that portable extinguishers have limitations,” said Curley. “Because fire grows and spreads so rapidly, the number one priority for residents is to get out safely.”


“Install fire extinguishers close to an exit and keep your back to a clear exit when you use the device so you can make an easy escape if the fire cannot be controlled,” said Stryker. “If the room fills with smoke, leave immediately.”


“Know when to go. Fire extinguishers are one element of a fire response plan, but the primary element is safe escape,” added Curley. “Every household should have a home fire escape plan and working smoke alarms.”



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