Fire Extinguisher Safety
Posted June 14, 2017
Fire extinguishers are designed to fight small fires in their early stages when the fire presents a relatively small hazard to the operator.
An extinguisher can be used in the incipient stage, when the fire is:
- Slow growing
- Minimal smoke
- Minimal heat
If a fire is too large, if there is too much smoke or if you are too frightened, evacuate immediately.
To operate a fire extinguisher, use the PASS method:
- The safety pin is usually held in place by a plastic seal, it will pull off. Do not push down on the operating lever while pulling the pin, it won’t come out.
- Aim at the base of the fire, the lowest flame closest to you. The base of the fire will recede from you as you use the extinguisher, so you must adjust your aim.
- The operating lever is above the carrying handle. The operating lever opens the valve when you squeeze it down. When you let go, the valve closes and the discharge stops
- Sweep the nozzle by moving your arm at the elbow. Direct the discharge to cover the entire width of the base of the fire.
Know Your A, B, Cs
Using the wrong fire extinguisher can result in more damage than the fire itself. All extinguishers have nameplates identifying their usage instructions, as outlined below.
Class A Fires
- Include wood, paper, trash and other items that produce glowing embers as they burn
- Only use a Class A extinguisher for these items and never use one on a gas or electrical fire.
Class B Fires
- Include flammable liquid and gas fires (gasoline, paint thinners, solvents, grease and acetylene)
- Use a Class B extinguisher only to fight these fires.
Class C Fires
- Include energized electrical equipment fires
- Use a Class C extinguisher only to fight these fires.
There are also extinguishers which can be used for all types of fires known as a Class ABC extinguisher.