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Fire Extinguisher Use

Fire and Emergency Medical Services supervises the maintenance of authorized extinguishers in College of Charleston buildings and some off campus property. If you notice that an extinguisher is missing or may require maintenance, please report the problem by calling the Fire Marshal at (843) 953-5499.

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Note: Pull a fire alarm box and alert others before you attempt to use a fire extinguisher.

Instructions Diagrams
P.......... Pull the Pin
A.......... Aim the extinguisher nozzle at the base of the flame.
S.......... Squeeze trigger while holding the extinguisher upright.

S.......... Sweep the extinguisher from side to side, covering the
area of the fire with the extinguishing agent.


  • Should your path of escape be threatened.
  • Should the extinguisher run out of agent.
  • Should the extinguisher prove to be ineffective.
  • Should you no longer be able to safely fight the fire.
  • Close the door on your way out of the area.

Then leave the area immediately!

How to Identify a Fire Extinguisher

  • All ratings are showed on the extinguisher faceplate. Some extinguishers are marked with multiple ratings such as AB, BC and ABC. These extinguishers are capable of putting out more than one class of fire.
  • Class A and B extinguishers carry a numerical rating that indicates how large a fire an experienced person can safely put out with that extinguisher.
  • Class C extinguishers have only a letter rating to indicate that the extinguishing agent will not conduct electrical current. Class C extinguisher must also carry a B rating.
  • Class D extinguishers carry only a letter rating indicating their effectiveness on certain amounts of specific metals.
  • Generally, you can tell with a glance which type an extinguisher is hanging on the wall, or in the cabinet, just by looking at its shape. Check the labels of the extinguishers in your area and note the color and shape/size of the extinguisher. This may help if someone runs in to help you fight a fire with the WRONG extinguisher (i.e. water on an electrical fire) - you can STOP them before they are injured or make matters worse!
  • ABC-rated multipurpose dry powder extinguishers are the most common on campus, particularly in the corridors of academic buildings. They are almost always RED in color and have either a long narrow hose or no hose(just a short nozzle). These extinguishers are very light (5-25lbs) Halon extinguishers look virtually identical to ABC multipurpose dry chemical extinguishers.
  • Water extinguisher are usually SILVER (crome-metal) in color, have a flat bottom, have a long narrow hose, are quite large (2-1/2 gallons).
  • CO2 (carbon dioxide) extinguishers are generally red, have a LARGE "tapered" nozzle (horn), are VERY HEAVY (15-
    85 lbs). They are high-pressure cylinders.
  • Care should be used NOT TO DROP a co2 cylinder, if it is damaged it can punch a hole through the nearest wall(s) and end up on the other side of campus! (The containers are quite sturdy, but don't abuse them.) CO2 cylinders do not have a pressure gauge-they must be weighed to Determine the amount of contents.

Where Can I Find a Fire Extinguisher on Campus?

  • In the corridors of academic and office buildings, and inside very large rooms.
  • In or immediately outside all laboratories where chemicals are stored and used.
  • In or immediately outside mechanical spaces where motorized or other equipment is present which might reasonably cause a fire.
  • In campus storage buildings, and mounted inside certain vehicles.
  • If you can't find the fire extinguisher in your area, or feel you need a different type/size or extinguisher for you area, contact the Fire Marshals Office at (843) 953-5499.