Weekly Safety Meeting – Fire Extinguisher Use

Fire Extinguisher Use

In the event of a fire, the correct use of a portable fire extinguisher could mean the difference between suffering a minor loss or a major one. Portable fire extinguishers, if used properly, can make that difference. But there are several things to consider in using fire extinguishers. For instance, you must know the class of fire involved and the correct type of fire extinguisher to use.

During the course of your work, it is possible that you will encounter a fire. How you respond can mean the difference between life and death for you and your coworkers. Being properly trained in the use of fire extinguishers can go a long way toward preventing injuries.

Employees who have not been trained on fire extinguisher use may not use a fire extinguisher in the workplace until they have been trained.

Fire classifications:

Class A fires are those that involve ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, cloth, trash, rubber, and plastics. Generally, these materials will leave an ash.

Class B fires are those that involve flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, diesel, oils, solvents, and paint. Class B fires also include flammable gases, such as natural gas, propane, and butane.

Class C fires are those that involve energized electrical equipment such as motors, panel boxes, transformers, appliances, power tools, and wiring.

Class D fires are those that involve metals such as magnesium, potassium, lithium, aluminum, sodium, and titanium.

Class K fires are those that involve oils and grease commonly found in commercial kitchens.

Fire extinguishers:

Fire extinguishers are pressurized devices that release different types of chemicals or water to suppress or extinguish a fire.

They keep small fires from spreading, assist in controlling the spread of fires until the fire department arrives, and can help provide an escape route for you and your co-workers.

Portable fire extinguishers differ not only by the extinguishing agent they expel onto a fire, but also by the color, type of nozzle, and other minor characteristics. There is a wide variety of extinguishers available based on the type of fire you may encounter. 

Proper use of fire extinguishers:

One-third of all people injured by fire are hurt while trying to control or extinguish the fire. To avoid injury, you need the right type of extinguisher and you must know when and how to use it.

Generally, fire extinguishers are meant to be used on small fires that are in their incipient or beginning stages and to protect evacuation routes.

If the fire is contained to a small area and you feel it can be easily controlled with the extinguisher at hand, attempt to put out the fire. Once a fire has begun to consume large quantities of fuel, a fire extinguisher will be highly ineffective. At this point, several hazards exist that could endanger your life. The killers in most fires are smoke and toxic fumes, heat, and flames, in that order.

Efforts to extinguish the following fires with an extinguisher should never be attempted:

  • Large volumes of flammable liquid;

  • Pressurized flammable liquids and gases;

  • Overhead fires that require the use of ladders;

  • Hidden fires within a structure;

  • Rapidly expanding fires;

  • Large volumes of smoke and/or intense heat;

  • Not knowing what is burning; and

  • Any time your instinct tells you not to.

Do not fight fire when:

  • You are not trained.

  • The fire is spreading too quickly.

  • There is too much smoke to see.

  • Never attempt to fight a chemical fire –

    o Let trained emergency response people perform that task.

  • The fire can block your only escape.

  • Your eyes are burning.

  • You are having difficulty breathing.

Remember P-A-S-S

  • P – Pull. Pull the locking pin before using the fire extinguisher.

  • A – Aim. Aim the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire. Not at the flames or smoke.

  • S – Squeeze. Squeeze the lever of the fire extinguisher to operate and discharge.

  • S – Sweep. Sweep the fire extinguisher back and forth at the base of the fire to extinguish.

Most extinguishers will only allow about 10 seconds of extinguishing media. Prevention is the key when it comes to firefighting. Good housekeeping, proper storage procedures, and safe work practices will go a long way toward reducing the likelihood that a fire will destroy valuable property or injure either you or a fellow employee.

Fire destruction is one man’s job…fire prevention is everybody’s job!! 


Download flyer: SMOTW_415_FireExtinguisherUse.pdf (125.36 kb)

Download Spanish Flyer: SMOTW_415_FireExtinguisherUse_esp.pdf (128.65 kb)

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