Water Fire Extinguishers – How to Use Them

Fire Water Extinguisher

Water fire extinguishers are one of the most commonly used types of fire extinguishers. They are effective in combating fires fueled by solid materials, such as wood, paper, and fabric. In this guide, we will provide a step-by-step explanation on how to use water fire extinguishers safely and effectively. It is important to remember that while water extinguishers are suitable for certain types of fires, they should never be used on flammable liquid or electrical fires. Read on to learn how to properly handle water fire extinguishers in case of an emergency.

1. Understanding Water Fire Extinguishers 

Water fire extinguishers are specifically designed to extinguish Class A fires, which involve ordinary combustible materials like wood, paper, and textiles. They are identified by their red color coding and contain water under pressure. The water acts as a cooling agent, reducing the temperature of the burning material and ultimately extinguishing the fire.

It is important to note that water extinguishers should not be used on fires involving flammable liquids, gases, or electrical equipment. Attempting to use a water extinguisher on these types of fires can be extremely dangerous and can lead to electric shock, explosion, or the spreading of the fire. It is crucial to assess the type of fire and choose the appropriate fire extinguisher accordingly.

2. Preparing for Proper Usage

Before attempting to use a water fire extinguisher, ensure that you have a clear evacuation path and that the fire department has been notified. Follow these steps for proper usage:

  • 2.1. Familiarize yourself with the extinguisher: Read the instructions and become familiar with the parts of the water fire extinguisher. This typically includes a pressure gauge, a discharge hose, and a nozzle or spray head.
  • 2.2. Check the extinguisher’s condition: Ensure that the extinguisher is not damaged, has not exceeded its expiration date, and is properly pressurized. Examine the pressure gauge, which should indicate that the extinguisher is in the operable range.
  • 2.3. Position yourself safely: Stand with your back to an exit, facing the fire. This allows for a quick escape if the fire becomes uncontrollable.

3. Operating the Water Fire Extinguisher

Once you have completed the initial preparations, follow these steps to use a water fire extinguisher:

  • 3.1. Aim: Point the nozzle or spray head towards the base of the fire. This ensures that the water effectively reaches the burning material.
  • 3.2. Squeeze: Firmly grip the operating lever or handle, then squeeze it to release the water. Maintain a steady grip throughout the process.
  • 3.3. Sweep: Using a side-to-side sweeping motion, move the nozzle or spray head from side to side across the base of the fire. Continue sweeping until the fire is completely extinguished.
  • 3.4. Cover the area: After the fire is out, continue spraying the area for a few minutes to prevent re-ignition. Ensure that the area is adequately covered with water.

4. Safety Precautions

  • While using water fire extinguishers, it is crucial to prioritize safety. Keep the following precautions in mind:
  • 4.1. Evacuate if necessary: If the fire grows beyond your ability to control it or if the room fills with smoke, leave immediately and call emergency services.
  • 4.2. Do not use on electrical or flammable liquid fires: Water conducts electricity, so using water extinguishers on electrical fires can result in electric shock.

How To Use A Water Fire Extinguisher?

Using a water fire extinguisher is relatively straightforward. Here are the general steps to follow:

  1. Assess the fire: Before attempting to extinguish a fire, evaluate the situation to ensure it is safe to do so. If the fire is too large, spreading rapidly, or poses a significant risk to your safety, evacuate the area immediately and contact the appropriate emergency services.
  2. Retrieve the water fire extinguisher: Locate the water fire extinguisher in your vicinity. They are typically labeled and stored in easily accessible areas.
  3. Pull the safety pin: The water fire extinguisher has a safety pin that prevents accidental discharge. Grasp the pin and pull it out firmly to break the seal.
  4. Aim at the base of the fire: Stand a safe distance away from the fire, typically about 6-10 feet (1.8-3 meters), and hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing towards the base of the flames. Aiming at the base helps to extinguish the source of the fire.
  5. Squeeze the lever: Using your other hand, grip the lever on the extinguisher’s handle and squeeze it. This action releases the pressurized water from the extinguisher. Maintain a firm grip on the handle while discharging the water.
  6. Sweep side to side: While continuing to squeeze the lever, sweep the stream of water from side to side, covering the area of the fire. This motion helps to extinguish the flames effectively. Ensure that you are directing the water at the base of the fire rather than the top.
  7. Keep a safe distance: While extinguishing the fire, maintain a safe distance to avoid any heat, smoke, or potential hazards. Do not approach the fire too closely, as it may reignite or produce dangerous gases.
  8. Continue until the fire is out: Keep discharging the water until the fire is fully extinguished. Observe the area to ensure that there are no lingering hot spots or smoldering remains.
  9. Monitor the area: Even after extinguishing the fire, it’s important to monitor the area for some time to ensure that there are no signs of re-ignition or further danger. Additionally, it’s advisable to have the fire department inspect the site to confirm that the fire is completely extinguished.

Remember, water fire extinguishers are designed to tackle fires involving ordinary combustible materials like wood, paper, cloth, and some types of plastics. They should not be used on fires involving flammable liquids, electrical equipment, or cooking oil fires. In such cases, it’s best to use the appropriate extinguisher or seek professional help.

Always prioritize your safety. If at any point you feel that the fire is too large or uncontrollable, evacuate the area immediately and call emergency services for assistance.

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