How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

fire extinguisher

When a fire occurs in the workplace or home, it is vital to know where the closest fire extinguisher is and how to use it. Often, the first step in a fire is to evacuate and call 911. Fires are not just dangerous to occupants, they also pose a potential safety threat to neighbors and the environment. If a fire is left unchecked, it can quickly spread through an entire building. Fire extinguishers are designed to help prevent this from happening by removing one or more of the elements needed for combustion and stopping the chain reaction. This can be accomplished by removing heat, cutting off oxygen or creating a barrier that blocks the chemical interaction between the fuel and the ignition source.

Fire extinguishers are usually classified according to the type of material that is burning. Class A fires consist of everyday combustibles, such as paper, wood, cloth, trash and plastics; Class B fires involve flammable liquids, such as cooking oils, paint thinners and cleaning solutions; and Class C fires are those in electrical equipment. Class A, B and C fires are usually combated with water, foam or dry chemicals. Class D fires involving metals can be extinguished with carbon dioxide, halogenated hydrocarbons such as halons or a dry chemical such as sodium bicarbonate or ammonium dihydrogen phosphate.

Whether you are using your fire extinguisher on a small office fire or on a large apartment building, the basic steps remain the same. Always keep the pressure on the pin at the top of the cylinder to break the tamper seal, and aim low, at the base of the flames. Then, squeeze the handle to release the agent and smother the fire. Finally, sweep the nozzle across the flames to wipe away any remaining residue.

There are many different types of hand-held fire extinguishers. Some are used in specific industries, such as metalworking and welding, others are used in the home for kitchen combustibles or cooking oil and grease. Each classification has its own special features.

All fire extinguishers should be inspected regularly to make sure they are in working condition and ready to be deployed if there is an emergency. On an annual basis, an inspector should perform a more thorough visual examination of the canister, hoses and nozzle, checking for wear, corrosion, dents or blockage. In addition, the tamper seal and label should be checked to ensure that the date and name of the person who performed the inspection are clearly written on the tag.

Regardless of which type of fire extinguisher you choose, it is important to read the operating instructions that came with it. Then, make sure all able members of the household know where the fire extinguishers are kept. They should be easy to find and located along normal paths of escape in case of a fire. In addition, the location should be shared with babysitters, house sitters and long-term visitors to the home.

Comments Off on How to Use a Fire Extinguisher