Fires spread rapidly and can double in size every 60 seconds. Within a couple of minutes, the temperatures can shoot up to multiples of 100°C. The catastrophic damage and destruction that follows can be avoided if the fire is put out in its earlier stages.
This makes it crucial for everybody to learn how to use a fire extinguisher. In addition, you should also know what kind of fire extinguisher to use in different types of fire outbreaks.
4 Basic Steps to Operate a Fire Extinguisher
All fire extinguishers come with colour coding and labels. Ensure that the fire extinguisher you retrieve from the cabinet is suitable for the type of fire you wish to put out. For example, a water extinguisher should under no circumstances be used on a fire caused by electrical equipment or inflammable liquids, as it might create even more damage.
Use the acronym PASS to help recall the steps for using modern fire extinguishers in emergency situations.
P – Pull the Pin
Pull the pin located at the top of the fire extinguisher. The pin is a failsafe to ensure nobody operates the handles accidentally. Pulling out the pin sharply breaks any plastic seals that exist. Aim away from the operators and test to check if the extinguisher works properly. This also helps you gauge how far the stream travels.
A – Aim
Maintain a safe distance while approaching the fire. Aim the nozzle towards the base of the fire.
S – Squeeze the Handles
After aiming, squeeze the handles to let out the stream to extinguish the fire. You can stop the discharge by just releasing the handles.
S – Sweep the Nozzle
Sweep the nozzle from side to side, covering the entire firebase. Doing this helps eliminate the fire at the source, putting it out much more efficiently.
Things to Keep in Mind
- Ensure all the occupants or employees are educated on how to use fire extinguishers and the location of the fire cabinets.
- Try to work in pairs for greater safety.
- Operate the fire extinguishers only if you are sure it is safe to do so. In a dangerous situation it is better to evacuate instead of taking risks.
- Fire extinguishers have labels on them. Always determine its suitability for the fire you have encountered.
Fire safety drills, demonstrations on using extinguishers, and other safety plans and techniques can be the difference between life and death in emergencies. Attending these sessions periodically instils confidence to take charge in an emergency and to know how to best navigate the risks involved for the best possible outcomes.
FSP New Zealand is one of the leading manufacturers and suppliers of fire safety products. Various prominent companies throughout New Zealand and Australia trust our products to ensure the safety standards of their work environments. Whether you are looking for a fire cabinet on sale to house your fire extinguishers or need guidance on making your sites safer, get in touch with us.