Fire Extinguisher Demonstration: What are the top things to know?

Fire extinguisher demonstrations (FEDs) offer valuable learning experiences that improve skills and confidence. While it’s a legal requirement to have accessible fire extinguishers in workplaces, simply having them available isn’t enough.

Employees must receive hands-on fire extinguisher training in selecting, inspecting, and operating extinguishers so they can respond quickly and correctly when encountering incipient-stage fires.

This article covers best practices for conducting live-fire FEDs and other fire prevention fundamentals.

Fire Extinguisher Demonstration by a man putting out fire

Only 15% of people in the UK know how to use a fire extinguisher properly. -Source: YouGov

FED: Mnemonic for Fire Extinguisher Demonstrations

Conducting live fire extinguisher demonstrations is an impactful training tool to reinforce proper selection and operation.

Giving employees the chance to practice using fire extinguishers, including aiming, activating, and controlling fires in a safe environment, enhances their skills and confidence.

Using mnemonics, FED provides a simple framework for demonstrations.

What Does Fire Extinguisher Demonstration (FED) In Fire Safety?

When running fire extinguisher demos, trainers often use FED, which stands for:

F – Familiarise with the extinguisher

E – Execute proper PASS technique

D – Discharge on test fire

Shorter version would be, Fire Extinguisher Demonstration or Fire Extinguisher Demo.

Walking through each FED component facilitates effective demos, so employees gain proficiency.

F – Familiarise

The first phase of a supervised extinguisher demo is allowing employees to inspect and become familiar with the extinguisher model they may need to use in an actual emergency.

They should note key parts like:

  • Agent type – Water, foam, dry chemical, etc.
  • Agent weight – Typical weights like 5 lb, 10 lb, 20 lb.
  • Operating mechanism – Cartridge pressurization, stored pressure, pump tank
  • Instructions – Short usage instructions printed on label.
  • Hose/nozzle – Presence of hose and discharge nozzle.
  • Pin – Pin retaining ring that must be pulled to activate.
  • Pressure gauge – If equipped, indicates state of pressurization.
  • Trigger handles – Levers or handles actuating release of agent.
  • Signage – Class of fire extinguisher is appropriate for

Spending time to know the tools, ask questions, and gain hands-on experience with the various weights and how they work, will helps participants become more familiar with them.

This facilitates quicker, more confident use in a fire event.

E – Execute PASS

After personal orientation, the next phase is demonstrating proper PASS technique:

  • Pull the pin – Unlock the operating lever by pulling out the safety pin.
  • Aim at the base of fire – Point nozzle low at the fuel source.
  • Squeeze the handles – Press handles to release the extinguishing agent.
  • Sweep side to side – Systematically coat the fuel surface until extinguished.

Staff should loudly call out each step as they execute it on the test fire, reinforcing the sequence.

D – Discharge on Fire

The final step of the FED technique involves every employee safely practicing using the extinguisher on a controlled fire scenario, such as a pan of ignition materials or a propane training simulator.

This allows them to experience the force of the extinguisher, proper activation technique, visibility of the agent stream, and effectiveness on an actual fire when used properly.

The combination cements understanding and builds skills. It’s far better than just reading about extinguisher use or watching a video.

The hands-on nature gives confidence while allowing instructors to provide guidance and correction as needed.

Set of fire extinguishers

Why Use Fire Extinguisher Demonstrations (FEDs) or Demos?

Fire Extinguisher Demonstration, FED provides a simple framework for facilitating immersive extinguisher demos:

F – Familiarise – Get to know the tool before needing to use it.

E – Execute PASS – Step-by-step appropriate operation.

D – Discharge – Reinforce learning via hands-on practice.

The sequence recreates the experience from inspection to deployment.

Calling out each letter cues the next demonstration phase.

Fire Extinguisher Demonstration allows the training to flow naturally while topping off knowledge with a realistic experience. Trainees gain assurance seeing how quickly a properly used extinguisher can suppress a contained fire.

Running through FED demos annually assures personnel retain the confidence and competency needed to respond appropriately if ever faced with an emerging workplace fire.

The muscle memory developed by activating an extinguisher in a controlled setting increases safe, effective response under crisis conditions.

When trainers use the PASS method, it provides effective hands-on learning that enhances extinguisher skills.

Furthermore, employees are more ready to save lives and property when they need to act quickly in case of a fire.

Why Fire Extinguisher Demonstration Matter

During fire emergencies, workers may need to suppress small fires before they escalate if safe to do so.

Classroom lectures alone cannot adequately prepare them. By conducting controlled fire extinguisher demonstration, employers provide:

  • Hands-on experience using actual extinguishers on simulated workplace fires.
  • Opportunity to practice proper PASS techniques until they become instinctive.
  • First-hand view of how quickly suppressants can extinguish contained fires when used properly.
  • Confidence to fight emerging fires through successful experience.
  • Muscle memory and comfort handling extinguishers since types vary.
  • Live demonstration boosts skills, readiness, and incident response capabilities.


Conducting Effective Fire Extinguisher Demonstrations

For productive fire extinguisher demonstrations, focus on:

Instructor Preparedness

  • Ensure adequate supply of suppressant and backup units pre-positioned.
  • Define clear roles for assisting when trainees discharge agents.
  • Have appropriate fire-resistant PPE and ventilation per NFPA guidance.
  • Use proper fuel sources to simulate likely fires. Follow NFPA 10 requirements.
  • Conduct demos in approved training areas away from combustibles.

Trainee Participation

  • Review extinguisher types and PASS method before demonstrations.
  • Allow each employee hands-on practice discharging agents.
  • Start with manageable fires appropriate to extinguisher size and type.
  • Provide coaching on stance, grip, aiming, and sweeping technique.
  • Repeat if employee needs to build competency and confidence.

Continuous Improvement

  • Ask trainees for feedback on experience and confidence gained.
  • Identify knowledge or skills needing reinforcement.
  • Note any technique or curriculum changes that could enhance training.
  • Update training plans and protocols to keep improving demonstrations.

Fire Extinguisher Demonstration Guidelines for Workplaces

Beyond conducting hands-on fire demos, employers must provide:

  • Sufficient portable extinguishers installed per occupational codes and local ordinances.
  • Proper extinguisher types based on fire hazards present and manufacturer guidance.
  • Routine professional maintenance checks. Employees inspect monthly.
  • Updated training anytime extinguisher models or work processes change.
  • Clear access to extinguishers with signage indicating locations.
  • Mounting in locations reachable within 75 feet of potentially hazardous areas.
fire drills by services men

Fires cause £1.6 billion in property damage each year in the UK. – Source: Home Office


Other Fire Preparedness Fundamentals

FEDs serve as one component of overall fire safety.

Additional elements include:

Detection and Alarm Systems

  • Installing individual smoke and heat detectors supplemented by intelligent alarm systems.
  • Interconnecting alarms so any single activation triggers building-wide notification.
  • Audible alarms exceeding ambient noise by minimum 15 db. Include visual strobe signals.
  • Testing manual pull stations and alarms monthly. Maintaining automatic detection.

Prevention Through Design

  • Incorporating fire resistance into building construction and departments.
  • Managing fuel load through hazardous material handling, housekeeping, and storage protocols.
  • Proper maintenance and operating procedures for heat generating equipment.
  • Banning ignition sources in vulnerable areas.


  • Adequate number of exits and sufficient exit width for occupant loads per code.
  • Visible illuminated exit signs in case of power failure or smoke obscuration. 
  • Posted evacuation maps with primary and secondary egress routes.
  • Unobstructed corridors, stairwells, and doors implementing fire separation.

Water Supply

  • Public hydrants available and accessible to firefighters.
  • Operational standpipes, sprinklers, and other suppression systems.
  • External fire department connections maintained and unobstructed. 

Training and Drills

  • Designating fire wardens to monitor drills and provide extra assistance. 
  • Quarterly evacuation drills including tabletop exercises evaluating known scenarios.

By taking an all-encompassing approach that combines risk awareness, prevention infrastructure, and practical training like live Fire Safety demonstrations, workplaces can significantly improve protection for occupants and property against fire events.

In Summary

Keeping workplaces safe from fire requires many layers of protection. Doing live fire drills is one important part. These hands-on lessons teach workers how to put out small fires correctly.

But practice drills should be combined with other safety steps.

Workplaces need fire alarms, sprinklers, and fire-proof building materials. These systems stop fires from growing and spreading.

Having extra water on hand helps firefighters too. Another key is getting rid of things that can burn easily and cause fires.

Workers also need to know how to evacuate in an emergency. Practicing the escape plans regularly keeps everyone prepared. Holding fire drills makes sure employees know what to do if there is a real fire.

All these fire protections work together to avoid disasters. Hands-on fire training gives people confidence in using fire extinguishers.

Installing fire-stopping systems keeps flames contained. And having good emergency plans helps everyone get out quickly.

Fire safety demostrations are a crucial part of the overall training program aimed at preventing disasters through layered vigilance.

Doing many things right reduces the chances of fires and injuries. Protecting workers takes training and retraining on right use of fire equipment, and staying vigilant.

Practicing how to respond to fires is smart.

But combining drills with other fire safety layers provides the best workplace fire protection. This keeps people as safe as possible.

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