Written by: Greg Ellifritz
Details from some of the terrorist acts that occurred last week in Paris are starting to make their way into the media. One story talked about how a man was planning on ambushing the terrorist at the deli by using a fire extinguisher as a weapon. That prompted a friend of mine to ask the following question:
“I’m curious on your opinion on the fire extinguisher. In the same situation, and assuming that was the only thing handy (I.e. I’m not carrying my pistol around France, no knife, etc) my instinct would be to hit the terrorist in the back of the head with the extinguisher as hard as I could. But am I missing something in terms of the foam spray – would that truly blind someone temporarily? If you were that close I would think a blow to the head would be better.”
This is actually a very good question. Fire extinguishers are often advocated as weapons in areas where “normal” weapons can’t be carried, yet no one tells folks how to use them effectively in that role. Setting up an ambush and using the fire extinguisher to strike the terrorist from behind probably has some merit and should be considered. But if the encounter was face to face, without the element of surprise, the fire extinguisher might not be the best weapon.
I don’t think I would use the fire extinguisher as an impact weapon in this scenario because two hands are needed to wield it. Unless you can get him from behind and knock him out instantly (not likely), I would rather have at least one hand to deflect and control the muzzle of the rifle. If I have two hands on the fire extinguisher, I can’t do that. I’m betting on a knockout and if that doesn’t happen, I get shot. I don’t like those odds.
The spray from the extinguisher is a very dense powder. It would certainly blind the person sprayed and make them cough uncontrollably. If I was going to use it, I would enlist the help of two confederates. I would spray the terrorist until the extinguisher was empty and then start beating the dude with it. As I do this, my two confederates both independently work to take the gun away. I think that plan has a reasonable likelihood of success.
I’m going to keep the hose attached to the body of the fire extinguisher. Most people separate it to spray a fire, but it doesn’t have to be pulled away from the body of the extinguisher to function. Hold the grip of the extinguisher with your strong hand. Support the body of the extinguisher with your non-dominant hand, ideally placing your thumb over the hose to keep it in place. Aim the “muzzle” of the hose at the terrorist and keep spraying until the extinguisher is empty. Once empty, keep the same grip and thrust the bottom of the canister into the terrorist’s face repeatedly. Hopefully this will provide enough distraction/injury that your friends can wrestle away the terrorist’s gun.
Another way of doing it is one person sprays, one person tackles, and one person gets the gun. The tackler would be hard to stop because most people don’t practice tracking targets moving towards them when using a long gun. It’s tough to hit with this kind of moving target anyway. It would be almost impossible with a face full of fire extinguisher powder. The tackling defender would serve to keep the terrorist from creating distance by turning and running when the spray is deployed. It would be tough to stop this kind of attack.
Sometimes we are limited in the weapons we can carry. Almost every public building has multiple fire extinguishers. It’s probably best that we consider how to best utilize them as an option for defensive weaponry.
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