Do You Know How to Use a Fire Extinguisher?

Fire extinguishers are provided to the labs in the event that a small fire develops. A small fire can be defined as “trash can-sized” or an incipient stage fire. All Emory-owned buildings are equipped with ABC-Combination extinguishers. ABC-rated, multipurpose, dry powder extinguishers are the most common on campus, particularly in the corridors of the 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 total weight). There are also some D extinguishers used for metal fires located in the Chemistry Building.

Is a fire extinguisher mounted in the lab?

OSHA requires that fire extinguishers receive two types of inspections to ensure that they work when activated:

  • Annual certification inspection
  • Monthly visual inspection

The annual inspection is conducted by an Emory approved contractor. Monthly visual inspections of the fire extinguishers inside the labs are the responsibility of the individuals in the work area.

Why is monthly inspection necessary?

The monthly inspection helps to ensure the work place is safe in two ways. First, it helps workers become familiar with the location of the nearest fire extinguisher. Second, by inspecting the extinguishers monthly, workers can help to ensure that they are in good condition and will work when necessary.

When conducting the monthly inspection, what do I need to check?

Location – Is the fire extinguisher mounted on the wall? Is the fire extinguisher unobstructed?

Condition – Is the seal in place and is the gauge needle in the green?

Sign – Initial and Date the back of the inspection card following each check

If the fire extinguisher is not mounted on the wall or the gauge indicates that it is not in working condition, then you will need to contact Campus Services at 404-727-7378 for a replacement.

Are evacuation routes posted?

Building evacuation routes are posted near the stairwells and elevators of each research building. If you do not notice evacuation routes posted in your building, contact Fire Life Safety at 404-727-7378.

What do I do if there is an actual fire in my lab?

If a fire is in the beginning stages, then you may be able to put out the fire using a nearby fire extinguisher. Once you locate the fire extinguisher, position yourself several feet away from the fire and keep your back towards the nearest exit. You need to have a clear route of escape in case the fire starts to spread. When you are ready to discharge the fire extinguisher, remember the P.A.S.S. principle! After discharging the fire extinguisher, notify Campus Services to receive a replacement.


PULL the pin to unlock the operative lever and allow the extinguisher to discharge.
AIM low. Point at the base of the fire
SQUEEZE the lever above the handle to discharge.
SWEEP from side to side moving carefully toward the fire; keep the fire extinguisher aimed at the base of the fire and sweep back and forth until flames are out.


Image Credit: Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue

What if I discover a fire?

If you discover a fire or notice smoke, then you will need to get to safety. Remember the acronym R.A.C.E.!


R = Remove all persons in immediate danger to safety
A = Activate manual pull station AND call or have someone call Emory Police at 911 from any campus phone
C = Close doors and fires shutters to prevent the spread of smoke and fire.
E = Extinguish the fire (if you are able).

What do I do if the fire begins to spread?

If you were unsuccessful at extinguishing the fire, evacuate the area immediately! Alert nearby laboratories and office personnel that a fire is in progress by pulling the nearest fire alarm. If you are located above the ground floor, locate the nearest stairwell to descend to the ground floor. Before opening the door, feel the handle and door with the back of your hand for heat. If the door is hot, do not open it. Take an alternate route to evacuate the building. Once you have exited the building, proceed to your department’s designated meeting location and call 911.

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