Last week we wrote about some general information about portable fire extinguishers and what different types of fire extinguishers are designed for. This week, we are looking at how use a fire extinguisher safely. Hopefully, you will never have to use this information but in the unfortunate event of a fire this may help prepare you.
Depending on the size of the fire, employees may be able to put a small fire out quickly and safely while emergency responders are on their way to the scene. A fire should always be reported as soon as it is spotted so that a small fire does not get out of hand.
The following steps should be followed when responding to incipient stage fire:
- Sound the fire alarm and call the fire department, if appropriate.
- Identify a safe evacuation path before approaching the fire. Do not allow the fire, heat, or smoke to come between you and your evacuation path.
- Select the appropriate type of fire extinguisher.
- Discharge the extinguisher within its effective range using the P.A.S.S. technique (pull, aim, squeeze, sweep).
- Back away from an extinguished fire in case it flames up again.
- Evacuate immediately if the extinguisher is empty and the fire is not out.
- Evacuate immediately if the fire progresses beyond the incipient stage.
Most fire extinguishers operate using the following P.A.S.S. technique:
- PULL... Pull the pin. This will also break the tamper seal.
- AIM... Aim low, pointing the extinguisher nozzle (or its horn or hose) at the base of the fire. NOTE: Do not touch the plastic discharge horn on CO2 extinguishers, it gets very cold and may damage skin.
- SQUEEZE... Squeeze the handle to release the extinguishing agent.
- SWEEP... Sweep from side to side at the base of the fire until it appears to be out. Watch the area. If the fire re-ignites, repeat steps 2 - 4.
If you have the slightest doubt about your ability to fight a fire....EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY!