Fire Extinguisher Safety Talk
When a fire breaks out, the correct use of a fire extinguisher can be the difference between a minor loss or a major loss. They can also be an essential tool in helping a small fire from turning into a larger fire. The most important thing to remember during a fire is to get yourself to safety and call the proper authorities to help fight the fire. If the fire is small and it is something you can control with a fire extinguisher there are several things you need to consider before using it.
In this toolbox talk, we'll cover proper fire response, the different classes of fires, how to use a fire extinguisher, fire extinguisher limitations, and how to inspect a fire extinguisher.
Responding to Fires
When you see fire the first thing you should do is pull the fire alarm, call the local fire department, and notify your immediate supervisor. Make sure you are following company policies and procedures when dealing with a fire.
If you are attempting to extinguish a fire you should:
Know what type of combustible material is burning.
Have been trained to use a fire extinguisher correctly.
Make sure the fire is still in the early stages.
If the fire gets out of control quickly, and you do not know what material is burning or how to properly use a fire extinguisher, you should evacuate the building immediately. Do not enter a building under fire for any circumstances. Always wait for a supervisor to advise you on what to do next after a fire.
Classes of Fires
There are four different classes of fires. A fire class is a system of categorizing fire with regard to the type of material and fuel for combustion. The class of fire also determines what type of extinguishing agent that can be used for the fire to be put out. Before you try to extinguish a fire you must know the class fire you are dealing with to ensure you are using the proper agent to put the fire out.
Class A fires involve ordinary combustibles such as paper, wood, cloth, rubber, or plastics. The common extinguishing agent is water or a dry chemical.
Class B fires involve flammable liquids, grease, or gases. The common extinguishing media are foam, carbon dioxide, or dry chemicals.
Class C fires are live electrical fires or CO2. Sometimes the actual burning agent may be a class A item but a dry chemical extinguisher should be used to extinguish the fire.
Class D fires include combustible metals such as magnesium and sodium. When dealing with these metals, special extinguishing agents are needed to extinguish the fire.
The PASS acronym is used to remember how to properly use a fire extinguisher in case of a fire. It stands for the 4 basic steps used:
P- Pull the Pin
Hold the extinguisher away from your body and release the locking mechanism.
Aim the stream towards the base of the fire. Do not aim at smoke or flames as this will not put the fire out.
Make sure you squeeze the lever slowly and evenly. If you pull the lever too fast you could shoot the stream where you are not intending it to go and waste valuable fire fighting agents.
Be sure to sweet the nozzle side to side at the base of the fire to combat and extinguish the fire.
Fire Extinguishers Limitations
It is important to know the limitations of your fire extinguisher before you have to use it and put yourself in danger. Knowing the model and weight of the extinguishers located in your work area is crucial information and when you are fighting a fire. Some limitations include:
A dry chemical fire extinguisher such as the common "ABC" red extinguishers will reach a distance between 5 and 20 feet. It is important for you to know what type of extinguisher is located in your work area and know the effective distance they can be used for in case of a fire at work.
A 10lb to 20lb dry chemical fire extinguisher will last anywhere from 10 to 25 seconds. The length the extinguisher is food for again depends on the model type and weight you are using. Make sure you are familiar with how long the extinguisher can last.
Fire extinguishers are designed to fight small fires. This means the fire should be about the size of a small trash can if you are looking to extinguish it with a basic fire extinguisher. If it is any larger you should seek help immediately.
Fire Extinguisher Inspection Tips
In order to keep the fire extinguisher in safe working order, inspections should be done periodically. Here are some tips for proper fire extinguisher inspection:
The extinguisher should be checked every 30 days. There should be a formal check at least once a year onsite that is documented.
Ensure the pressure is okay when inspecting the fire extinguisher. There is a gauge that has an arrow and the arrow should be pointing and located within the green section of the gauge. If the arrow is in the red the extinguisher needs to be flagged and out of service until it has been recharged.
Check to make sure the pin is still in place. Sometimes the pin can be bumped out of place leaving the chance of accidental discharge to occur.
Check for rust on the container and ensure the label is in good readable condition. Following these tips should ensure that the extinguisher in your work area will be ready in the case of an emergency.
Fire Extinguisher Safety Starts With You
In the case of a fire at work, it is important to know more than just where the extinguisher is located. Make sure you know how to properly use the extinguisher, know the limitations of the extinguisher you would be using, and know the tips to keep the extinguishers in good working order. If you experience a fire at work always notify your supervisor and the local fire department. Do not try to extinguish the fire if it is out of control make sure you get to safety.
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