How to Use a Fire Extinguisher on a Campfire

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Hey there, fellow adventurers! Is there anything better than a cozy campfire on a chilly night?

I think not.

But let’s get real—fires are as risky as they are mesmerizing.

That’s why today we’re talking about using a fire extinguisher on a campfire.

It’s a skill we all need but hope to never use.

Stick around; this is one lesson you don’t want to skip.

Why Fire Extinguishers Are Essential for Campfires

The Risky Side of Campfires

I get it, nothing beats the ambiance of a campfire. The flickering flames, the smoky aroma—it’s the ultimate outdoor experience. But let’s not forget, fires can be wild beasts. They can turn a perfect night into a complete disaster. We’re talking scorched earth, damaged gear, and at worst, a full-blown forest fire. Yikes!

a fire extinguisher resting against a tree nearby

Always Better Safe Than Sorry

Imagine this: you’re basking in the glow of a campfire when a sudden gust of wind sweeps in. Before you know it, those friendly flames are leaping dangerously close to your tent! This is why having a fire extinguisher at hand isn’t just wise; it’s essential. We all love the charming allure of a campfire, but safety should never take a backseat.

When it comes to camping, a fire extinguisher should be up there on your packing list, right next to your tent and s’mores ingredients. Seriously, it’s non-negotiable. A fire extinguisher is your first line of defense against a fire that gets out of hand.

Why Not Just Use Water?

You might be thinking, “Hey, I’ve got water; why bother with a fire extinguisher?” Well, let me spill some knowledge. Water might work for small flare-ups, but it can’t beat the efficiency and speed of a fire extinguisher. In fact, depending on the type of fire, water might even make it worse! We’ll dig into that a bit more later.

I hope you’re all set for the next part of this guide! I promise it’ll be packed with practical tips and even a story or two from my own camping adventures. Because knowing how to use a fire extinguisher? That’s a badge of honor in the world of camping.

Types of Fire Extinguishers Suitable for Campfires

Alright, so you’re convinced a fire extinguisher is a must-have. The next question is, what type should you get? Trust me, not all fire extinguishers are created equal. Today we’ll dive into the types ideal for campfires. We’ll also tackle the pros and cons, so you’ll know exactly what to pack. When you’re packing for your camping adventure, don’t forget to include essential items like a campfire cooking kit along with your chosen fire extinguisher. Get ready, it’s going to be enlightening!

Chemical Fire Extinguishers

The Upside

Chemical fire extinguishers, specifically those loaded with dry chemicals, are pretty versatile. They work on what we call ‘ABC’ fires—those involving ordinary combustibles, flammable liquids, and electrical equipment. Perfect for dousing rogue embers or a suddenly rebellious camp stove.

The Downside

Here comes the reality check: Chemical extinguishers can be corrosive. If you spray this on your camping gear, you might end up damaging it. And let’s not even talk about the clean-up. I once had to use a chemical extinguisher to put out a small grill fire, and cleaning that mess felt like a second camping trip. But hey, better safe than smoky, right?

CO2 Fire Extinguishers

The Upside

CO2 extinguishers are clean and efficient. They’re designed to combat electrical and flammable liquid fires. Best part? No messy residues to clean up!

The Downside

But here’s the rub—CO2 extinguishers aren’t effective on standard combustibles like wood and paper. That makes them less than ideal for general campfire use. Also, these bad boys can get pretty frosty, so handle with care! I learned this the hard way during a winter trip; let’s just say that touching a super-cold metal isn’t my idea of fun.

Water Mist Fire Extinguishers

The Upside

Water mist extinguishers are the eco-friendly warriors of the fire safety world. They use fine water droplets to suppress fires, making them free from any chemicals. If you’re camping near a water source, some models even allow for easy refilling.

The Downside

Now, don’t get too excited. Water mist extinguishers aren’t great for grease or electrical fires. And because it’s water, it won’t work well in freezing temperatures. Trust me, the last thing you want is a frozen fire extinguisher when you need it most.

Learn more: Fire Safety 101

How to Choose the Right Fire Extinguisher for Your Needs

Choosing the right fire extinguisher isn’t just a matter of grabbing the first one you see on the shelf. Size, portability, and ease of use are all key factors. You wouldn’t bring a sledgehammer to hang a picture frame, would you? Let’s make sure you’re not overpacking or underpacking for your camping trip.

Size Matters

Small and compact extinguishers are great for a quick weekend camping getaway. They’re easier to transport and won’t take up much space. But if you’re going for an extended camping trip, a bigger extinguisher provides more fire-fighting power. Just keep in mind, the bigger it is, the heavier it gets. Choose based on how much you can realistically carry.


Some extinguishers come with mounts or carrying straps. Super handy for attaching to your vehicle or even a large backpack. During a camping trip with friends, we mounted one on the back of our jeep. Best decision ever when someone knocked over the grill!

Ease of Use

Consider an extinguisher that’s easy to handle and operate. This is not the time for complex gadgets. Look for extinguishers with simple, easy-to-follow instructions. Remember, in an emergency, every second counts.

Recommendations for Different Scenarios

For day-trippers, a small chemical extinguisher should suffice. If you’re off-the-grid camping, opt for a medium-sized ABC extinguisher to cover all bases. For RV campers, consider a CO2 extinguisher for any electrical fires that may occur. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later!

Also learn: Safe Food Handling Tips

Proper Storage and Maintenance of Fire Extinguishers

Once you’ve got your hands on the right extinguisher, storing it properly is crucial. Trust me, you don’t want to reach for it in an emergency and find it useless or worse, missing!

Storage Tips

Don’t just toss the extinguisher in your trunk and call it a day. Store it in an easily accessible location. Some people opt for specialized fire extinguisher boxes or pouches. I keep mine within arm’s reach, strapped securely but easy to detach. And please, don’t bury it under your camping gear.

Periodic Checks

Periodic checks are a must. Before each trip, inspect the extinguisher for any signs of damage or leakage. Check the pressure gauge; it should always be in the green zone. If it’s red or low, time for a replacement or recharge.


It’s also a good idea to shake your chemical fire extinguishers every few months. Why? To prevent the powder inside from settling or hardening. I usually set a calendar reminder so I don’t forget. Also, remember that fire extinguishers do expire, so check that date!

Keeping your fire extinguisher in top shape ensures that it’s ready when you need it.
Keep an eye out for my next segment where I’ll walk you through how to actually use a fire extinguisher.

Step-by-Step Guide: Using a Fire Extinguisher on a Campfire

So you’re out camping, the fire’s crackling, the marshmallows are toasting, and life is good. But then, oops, the fire gets a bit too eager. Time to act, but how? Let’s break down the steps of using a fire extinguisher on a campfire. You might think it’s straightforward, but there’s a method to the madness.

Assess the Situation

Before you go all superhero and dive for the extinguisher, take a moment. Ask yourself:

  • How big is the fire?
  • Is it spreading rapidly?
  • Are there flammable materials nearby?
  • Can you safely approach the fire?

Remember, safety comes first. If the fire has gone wild, call for emergency help immediately. There’s no shame in knowing when a situation is beyond your control.

The PASS Technique

Let me introduce you to your new best friend in fire emergencies: PASS. This acronym stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep. Here’s how to do it:


Grab the extinguisher and pull the safety pin. You might need to twist it first, but usually, it comes out with a straight pull.


Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire. Not the flames, people! The base is where you’ll cut off the fire’s fuel.


Squeeze the handle to release the extinguishing agent. Be ready; some extinguishers can have a bit of a kickback.


Sweep the nozzle from side to side until the fire is out. Keep your eyes peeled. If the fire re-ignites, you’ll need to start over.

Now, I know it sounds simple, but when you’re in a panic, even simple steps can be confusing. Maybe try a practice run before you’re actually facing a fire. You know, just to get the hang of it.

Safety Measures After Using the Extinguisher

You’ve just put out the fire. Kudos! But hold the celebrations. Before you get back to your camping fun, you’ve got to make sure that fire isn’t coming back to life.

  1. Check for Embers: Smoldering embers can reignite. Douse them with water if you have it.
  2. Inspect the Area: Look for anything that could reignite. A stray ember can travel, so check the surrounding area too.
  3. Extinguisher Status: Is there any extinguishing agent left? If it’s empty, you’ll need a replacement.
  4. Ventilate: Clear out any lingering fumes, especially if you used a chemical extinguisher.

In summary, extinguishing a fire is more than a spray-and-pray affair. Knowing what to do can make a difference in an emergency.

More guides for campfire safety.

Mistakes to Avoid

Even with the best intentions, mistakes can happen when using a fire extinguisher on a campfire. Let’s go over some common errors and how to steer clear of them.

Panic Mode

In the heat of the moment (pun intended), panic can set in. It’s easy to fumble with the extinguisher or forget the PASS steps. The key here is to stay as calm as possible. Take a deep breath, remind yourself of the steps, and then act.

Standing Too Close

A common mistake is getting too close to the fire. Remember, the heat can be intense, and standing too near puts you at risk. Maintain a safe distance while using the extinguisher to avoid burns or inhaling toxic fumes.

Wrong Fire Extinguisher

Using the wrong type of fire extinguisher is a big no-no. If you reach for the wrong one, it might not work effectively, or worse, it could make the fire worse. Always ensure you have the right type of extinguisher for the fire you’re dealing with.

Not Calling for Help

Some folks assume they can handle a fire on their own and skip calling for help. Always err on the side of caution. If the fire seems uncontrollable or you have any doubts, dial emergency services immediately. It’s better to have them on standby.

Forgetting Post-Fire Safety

Extinguishing the fire is just one part of the process. Afterward, people often forget to check for re-ignition or properly ventilate the area. These steps are crucial to ensure your safety and prevent the fire from coming back.


Can I use water instead of a fire extinguisher?

No, using water isn’t recommended as it may not be effective on all types of fires, and in some cases, it can even make the fire worse. It’s safer to use a fire extinguisher designed for the specific fire type.

How often should I check the fire extinguisher?

Regularly check your fire extinguisher at least once a month to ensure it’s in good working condition. Additionally, have it professionally inspected and serviced annually to guarantee its reliability.

Is it mandatory to carry a fire extinguisher while camping?

While it may not be mandatory in all camping areas, it is highly recommended to carry a fire extinguisher for safety reasons. Fires can start unexpectedly, and having an extinguisher can help prevent a small fire from turning into a major disaster.


In the world of camping, knowing how to use a fire extinguisher isn’t just a handy skill; it’s a vital one. As outdoor enthusiasts, we embrace the beauty of campfires, but we also respect their potential danger.

Remember, safety should always come first. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or new to the game, take the time to familiarize yourself with the PASS technique and the type of extinguisher you need for your adventures.

Camping is about creating memories, not accidents. So, pack that extinguisher, know how to use it, and always prioritize safety. Here’s to many more nights of starry skies and cozy campfires, all enjoyed with peace of mind.

Sukhen Tanchangya

Sukhen is a passionate blogger and has a passion for camping. He enjoys cooking, especially over a campfire. Sukhen enjoys sharing adventure insights and outdoor cooking tips.

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