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Fighting a Fire

August 17, 2016

Should a fire ever start, before grabbing the fire extinguisher here are some vital things you need to do first:

•    First call the fire department
•    Confirm that the fire is small and not spreading
•    Make sure you have safe path to an exit not threatened by the fire
•    Know what kind of fire extinguisher is required – not all extinguishers are created equal

To know what kind of extinguisher to use, it’s essential to know what kind of fire you’re fighting. Fires are categorized into four different classes:

1.    Class A – Ordinary combustibles or fibrous material, such as wood, paper, cloth, rubber, and some plastics
2.    Class B – Flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, paint, paint thinners and propane
3.    Class C – Energized electrical equipment, such as appliances, switches, panel boxes and power towels
4.    Class D – Certain combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, potassium, and sodium

While many available extinguishers can be used on different types of fires and may be labelled with more than one designator (e.g. A-B, B-C, or A-B-C), be advised that most extinguishers will function for less than 40 seconds!

Here are some tips on how and when to use a fire extinguisher:

1.    Most fires start small. Except for explosions, fires can usually be brought under control if they are attacked correctly with the right type and size of extinguisher within the first two minutes
2.    A fire extinguisher should be ‘listed and labelled’ by an independent testing laboratory. The higher the rating number on an A or B extinguisher, the more fire it can put out. But be careful, high-rated unites are often heavier models. Make sure you can hold and operate the model you are using.
3.    Before attempting to fight a small fire, be sure everyone is out of the area. Ensure someone has called the fire department. If the fire starts to spread or threatens your escape path, get out immediately!
4.    The operator must know how to use the extinguisher quickly without taking time to read directions during an emergency. Remember that extinguishers need care and must be recharged after every use.


5.    PULL the pin. Some extinguishers require releasing a lock latch, pressing a puncture lever or other motion.
6.    AIM low, pointing the extinguisher nozzle (or its horn or hose) at the base of the fire.
7.    SQUEEZE the handle. This releases the extinguishing agent.
8.    SWEEP from side to side at the base of the fire until it appears to be out. Watch the fire area in case fire breaks out again, and repeat use of extinguisher if necessary.
9.    Read and follow the directions on your extinguisher. If you have the slightest doubt about whether or not to fight a fire – DON’T! Get out and close the door behind you.

REMEMBER! Your safety comes first. When in doubt, leave the firefighting to the professionals.


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