SIOUX FALLS, SD -Would you know how to use a fire extinguisher if you needed to? A Sioux Falls man picked one up for the first time when he woke up to find his bathroom on fire early Monday morning.Powdery residue sits on just about every surface of Ryan Combellick’s apartment, a reminder of his fast actions early in the morning.
“I woke up just to a loud bang; that something exploded,” Combellick said.
That loud bang was a butane lighter. The noise came from the bathroom, just feet from where he was sleeping. A candle, which he thought he put out, had started some towels on fire and spread to a cabinet.
“I just ran and grabbed the phone, I was dialing 911 and grabbed the fire extinguisher,” Combellick said.
He hit the fire alarm, woke up his neighbors and used the extinguisher to fight the small fire. It’s a tool firefighter Shawn Greer says should be in every home because as Combellick learned, a fire can spark anytime, anywhere and smoke can build quickly.
“We use the term PASS. Pull the pin, aim it towards the fire, squeeze the handle and sweep it to where it’s actually burning at,” Greer said.
To put the fire out, you should sweep back and forth at the base of the fire, but only if it’s small. If it is large, get out of the house.
“If it’s smaller than a waste paper basket, use your extinguisher to put it out. Otherwise, an extinguisher should be used just to buy you time to be able to get yourself or others out,” Greer said.
In this case, everyone made it out of the building safely. And despite the mess, Combellick knows things could have been much worse and cleaning up is nothing compared to the loss of a life.
“Know where the fire extinguisher is, the fire alarm,” Combellick said.
Combellick was treated for minor smoke inhalation.
The fire department says to use caution when putting out fires and always call 911 first. If you’re unsure about using an extinguisher, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue holds trainings every Thursday. Call the headquarters at 605-367-8092 for more information.