Fire Extinguishers

Approximately every 16 seconds a fire department responds to a fire somewhere in the United States. The annual property loss from fire is in excess of BILLION. Roughly every two hours, someone will die in a fire. The proper use of a fire extinguisher may have prevented these mishaps.

A fire extinguisher is probably the most common fire protection device available to the employees of your property. Most portable fire extinguishers are designed so that someone with just a little training can extinguish a fire that has just begun to burn. However, if your employee is completely unfamiliar with the proper use or basic understanding of the type of extinguisher, they can make a bad situation worse. Using the wrong type of extinguisher could increase the fire dramatically, endangering other employees and increasing the dollar loss. Employers who provide fire extinguishers should also provide the training necessary to use the extinguisher properly. Proper training is just as important as providing fire extinguishers, if not more so.

Where is the closest fire extinguisher in your area? Do you know how to use it? Look at the symbols on the extinguisher;

An ‘A’ in a triangle is an extinguisher that will fight ordinary combustibles, such as burning trash or cloth.

A ‘B’ in a square is an extinguisher that will fight flammable liquid fires, such as grease or oils or gasoline.

A ‘C’ in a circle is an extinguisher that will fight energized electrical fires, such as burning wires or switches.

A ‘D’ in a star is an extinguisher that will fight combustible metal fires, such as titanium or magnesium.

Some extinguishers are multipurpose and can fight more than one class of fire. You may see an extinguisher near your work area that has an ‘A-B-C’ rating on it. This type can fight ordinary combustibles, flammable liquids and electrical fires, but would be of no use on a metal fire.

Kitchens need a fire extinguisher rated at 40-B:C near the grease cook line in addition to a 2-A:10-B:C extinguisher located throughout the kitchen area. All extinguishers shall be conspicuously located where they will be readily accessible and immediately available in the event of a fire. Preferably they will be located along normal paths of travel and within 75′ travel distance to any point in the building, as a general rule.

Remembering the word PASS can help you remember how to use the fire extinguisher;

Pull – the safety pin at the top of the extinguisher.

Aim – the nozzle or hose at the base of the fire, standing about 6′ – 8′ away.

Squeeze – or depress the handle.

Sweep – gently from side to side until the fire is out.

Warn others of the fire, so they may get out of the building, and what is most important, call the fire department before attempting to extinguish a small fire. Should you make the decision to fight the fire, always keep the exit to your back and never let the fire get between you and your way out.

Remember, the extinguisher will only last a few seconds, use it wisely.

Fire extinguishers have to be maintained in order to work properly. They must be serviced on an annual basis or if the gauge on the top of the extinguisher shows a low reading. The tag on the extinguisher shows the last time it was serviced. Of course, if the tag is missing, the extinguisher again needs to be serviced.

Selection of extinguishers depends on the hazards expected. For assistance in purchasing or locating your extinguishers, contact a state certified individual or firm. The Yellow Pages is a great place to start. Many of these companies offer classes on the use of their extinguishers.

Smoke Alarms/Detectors

Smoke DetectorSmoke alarms save lives.

A fire department responds to a fire somewhere in the United States every 16 seconds. A residential fire occurs every 74 seconds. The majority of fires that kill people happen at night. If you?re asleep, the smell of smoke won?t always wake you up. In fact, smoke and poisonous gases can put you into a deeper sleep. Inexpensive smoke alarms can wake you in time to escape, greatly increasing your chances of survival.

How to choose an alarm.

Be sure that the smoke alarm carries the label of an independent testing lab (i.e. UL). Some home alarms run on batteries, others on household current. There are also different sensor technologies, some faster to react when fires are smoldering, others faster when fires are openly flaming, ALL are fast enough to provide sufficient warning. All laboratory tested smoke alarms, regardless of type, will protect you if they?re installed and maintained properly.

How many do you need?

Install at least one smoke alarm on every floor of your home, including the basement and outside each sleeping area. Smoke alarms should also be installed in sleeping rooms, especially if you sleep with the doors closed. New home construction now require hard wired smoke detectors in each sleeping room in addition to each level of the home. If someone in the home is hearing impaired, install alarms that flash a strobe light as well as the audible alarm.

Where and how to install.

Smoke rises, so mount alarms high on a wall or on the ceiling.

To wall mount, position the alarm 5 to 12 inches from the ceiling. To ceiling mount, position the detector from the center of the space to, but not closer than, 5 to 12 inches from the nearest wall. In stairways without doors at the top or bottom, place the detector anywhere along the path smoke would take, observing the previously stated two rules. In stairways, such as those from a basement that have a closed door at the top of the stairs, mount the smoke alarm at the bottom of the stairway. Dead air trapped near the door at the top of the stairway could prevent the smoke from reaching the alarm. DO NOT install smoke alarms near a window, door or forced-air register where drafts could interfere with its operation. False Alarms

Cooking vapors, steam and other fumes sometimes “set- off” the smoke alarm. If this happens regularly, do not solve the problem by removing the battery. Instead, try relocating the smoke alarm further from the source of the smoke. Clean the smoke detector regularly using a vacuum cleaner without removing the cover following the manufacturer recommendations. Maintenance

Change the battery in battery operated detectors at least annually. Many smoke alarm models chirp periodically when battery replacement is required. Test the smoke alarm at least monthly. Replace the smoke alarm as recommended by the manufacturer or every 10 years. After 10 years of service, the sensor in the smoke alarm becomes unreliable.

What to do if your clothes catch fire

When one talks about fire, he/she should make sure that everyone knows what to do if his/her clothing starts to burn. A clothing fire can spread rapidly and must be handled correctly. Teach family members that if clothing catches on fire they must:

1. STOP! Do not run! (Running only makes the fire bigger)

2. DROP! (Drop to the ground or floor)

3. ROLL! (Roll over and over until the flames are smothered. Cover face with hands)

To avoid clothing fires, wear clothes that:

1. Fit close to the body, especially when near open flames

2. Are made of tightly woven fabrics.

NEVER use hands for putting out a fire. Hands are very delicate, easily injured and difficult to heal. Hands should only be used to protect the face. The face is even more sensitive because of the eyes, nose, and mouth.