A fire extinguisher is a life-saving tool that can be used to save property and lives in the event of a small fire. But only if you know how to use it. Fire extinguisher training is crucial to your safety and should be part of your workplace training plan. It is also a good idea to practice using fire extinguishers on a regular basis. This helps to build confidence and ensure that you are familiar with how to use them in the event of a real emergency.
A basic fire extinguisher consists of a metal cylinder with a pressure gauge, handle, pin and hose/nozzle. There are many types of fire extinguishers and they are categorized by the type of fire they are designed to fight. Each extinguisher type has its own unique fire fighting agent and different applications.
Class A – Wood, Paper, Cloth, etc
Class A fires are caused by combustible solids such as wood, paper, cloth, and rubber. They are usually easy to control and do not spread quickly, making them ideal for use with an extinguisher.
Class B – Flammable Liquids
Class B fires are caused by flammable liquids such as gasoline, petroleum, oil, and tar. They are easily distinguishable from class A fires because they are typically red/orange in color. Class B fires are difficult to extinguish, and it is important to move quickly to apply the fire extinguisher as the fuel may re-ignite.
CLASS C – Electrical Equipment Fires
Class C fires are extremely dangerous because they can cause severe injury and even death. These are often caused by equipment such as computers, motors, appliances, and transformers that are electrically charged. Unlike class B fires, which can often be put out with a single application of the fire extinguisher, class C fires require multiple attempts to successfully extinguish because of their intense heat and the energy that is released during the electrical circuitry explosion.
CLASS D – Metals Fires
Class D fires are very deadly and require a special type of fire extinguisher. Graphite (used in extinguishers labeled as Class D) and sand found in buckets located in laboratories are both effective on class D fires.
Fire Extinguisher Training
Regardless of the type of fire extinguisher, it is always best to avoid putting yourself in harm’s way by evacuating the area as soon as possible. Once the fire is under control, the evacuation path should be clear and unobstructed. If the fire is too large or spreading rapidly, it is important to call the local fire department.
Remember to follow the acronym PASS: Pull the pin, Aim low, Squeeze and Sweep. In addition, remember to keep your back to an escape path and stand at least 6-8 feet away from the fire when aiming and discharging the fire extinguisher. Keeping this in mind can make all the difference in your ability to successfully discharge and use the fire extinguisher. Once the fire is extinguished, continue to monitor the situation and evacuate the area if needed.