We’re not trying to be alarmist here, but being able to use a fire extinguisher properly could be the difference between life and death. When a fire or any crisis happens, your adrenaline is pumping, you may feel scared, you may feel courageous. Regardless of your emotions, you need to be prepared. That is why having an emergency plan and being trained to properly use life-saving equipment like a fire extinguisher is paramount.
In the workplace, there should be a clear emergency plan with evacuation routes and tasks for those responsible for using fire extinguishers, ensuring all staff is evacuated as well as making sure emergency personnel are called. If employees are assigned the responsibility of using an extinguisher, they need to be trained prior.
Different Types of Extinguishers
The first step in fire extinguisher usage is understanding that there are different types based on the type of fires they stop.
A: for materials like cloth, wood, and paper
B: for combustible and flammable liquids like grease, gasoline, oil, and oil-based paints
C: for electrical equipment like appliances, tools, and other plugged-in items
D: for flammable metals
K: for vegetable oils, animal oils and fats in cooking appliances
Depending on where the extinguisher is located and whether it is for a home, business, factory, or other location will usually dictate which letter/type of extinguisher is chosen. Make sure the extinguisher you use is designed to combat the type of fire you have.
The PASS Technique
When operating an extinguisher you want to use the PASS technique.
There are multiple tutorials online that showcase how to use this technique correctly. You want to make sure you are prepared should the situation arise.
Maintenance is Important
In addition to knowing how to properly use an extinguisher, it is just as important if not more so that the fire extinguisher is in working condition and has regular maintenance and inspections. The last thing you want is an inoperable fire extinguisher when a fire occurs.
- Have regular inspections where the pressure is tested.
- Keep the extinguisher clean.
- Keep the extinguisher clear of clutter. It shouldn’t be blocked by other equipment or other objects.
- Follow any requirements or guidelines shown on the extinguisher itself.