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.