Have you ever been the first person that discovers a small fire? Did you know what to do, who to notify, or where the extinguisher was? If you have that knowledge you are a step ahead in preventing an incidental fire from becoming a serious situation.
Look around and know where the portable fire extinguishers are located. They are commonly placed near an exit and use signs to let people know where they are.
Those portable fire extinguishers are an important part of your fire prevention plan. They should be easily accessible for either an emergency or for the monthly inspections. Yep, they need to be inspected at least every thirty days.
When doing an inspection you should look for a few things;
• Is it there (an empty holder does no one any good)
• What type of extinguisher is it (having an incorrect extinguisher can be a greater danger)
• Is it charged (be sure the little arrow in the gauge is in the green zone)
• Is the handle pin in place (it prevents having an accidental discharge)
• Do a heft test (heft test: pick it up, is it heavy? Turn it over to loosen the reagent inside)
It is always a good idea to know how to use an extinguisher for the ‘just in case’ situation. Find out if your employer offers any training or if there is a fire brigade.
To use the extinguisher is fairly simple, but it will vary depending on the type of extinguisher you have. Use the acronym PASS to use your extinguisher;
• P – Pull the pin
• A – Aim the nozzle at the base of the flames
• S – Squeeze the handle to spray the reagent
• S – Sweep the nozzle side-to-side fanning the flames away from you covering them with the contents.
I mentioned that you should know what type of extinguisher you have. There are five types of extinguishers.
• Type A – is used for paper, wood, or ordinary combustibles. Think of things that make an (A)sh.
• Type B – is used for gasoline, kerosene, propane and oil. Think of things that can (B)oil.
• Type C – is used to extinguish electrical fires. Think of (C)urrent or (C)ircuit.
• Type D – is for combustible metal fires like magnesium. Think of things that (D)ent.
• Type K – is used for cooking oils, fats and lards and grease fires. Think of (K)itchens.
In most areas you are going to find combination types of extinguishers, most common is an A,B&C. They will extinguish those types of fires.
Using an incorrect type of extinguisher may cause greater damage or an injury. For example if you had an oil fire, you wouldn’t want to use water on it because the oil would float and the fire could spread. It’s the same idea for an electrical fire; using water would conduct the electricity back to you, holding the water source.
The fire prevention plan has other requirements, such as how many extinguishers are needed (1 for each 3000 square feet) how far apart they need to be (travel distance not more than 100 feet).
If having that fire prevention knowledge is important to you, ask your employer about getting trained. Even knowing how to notify emergency personnel is a plus.
Learn not to burn!