March 7, 2009

Emergency Preparedness: Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are for use in small fires only. Never place yourself or others in jeopardy by attempting to extinguish a fire that is too large or if smoke presents a hazard to the operator. Never fight a fire if the fire is spreading beyond the spot where it started. If there is a fire, sound the alarm, and get everyone out. If possible, try to confine and contain the fire by closing doors leading to it. Call the Fire Service from a safe location. Buy only an extinguisher which has been approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory such as U.L.C. Familiarize yourself with the location and operating instructions of the extinguishers at your disposal.

How to identify the proper fire extinguisher.

All ratings are shown on the faceplate. Some are marked with multiple ratings such as AB, BC and ABC. These extinguishers are capable of putting out more than one class of fire.

The ABC's of Fire Extinguishers:

  • Class A and B carry a numerical rating that indicates how large a fire an experienced person can safely put out with an extinguisher.
  • Class A extinguishes ordinary combustibles or fibrous material such as wood, paper, cloth, rubber and some plastics, etc.
  • Class B extinguishes flammable or combustible liquids, such as fuel, oil, gasoline, kerosene, paint, paint thinners, cooking grease, solvents and propane, etc.
  • Class C extinguishers have only a letter rating to indicate that the extinguishing agent will not conduct electrical currents. Class C extinguishers must also carry a Class A or B rating. Used for energized electrical equipment, such as appliances, switches, wiring, fuse boxes, electrical motors, power tools, panel boxes, etc.
  • Class D carries only a letter rating indicating their effectiveness on certain amounts of specific metals. Combustible metals such as magnesium, sodium, titanium and potassium burn at high temperatures and give off sufficient oxygen to support combustion. They may react violently with water or other chemicals and must be handled with care.
How to use a portable fire extinguisher.

Remember the acronym, P.A.S.S.

P Pull the pin.
A Aim extinguisher nozzle at the base of the flames.
S Squeeze trigger while holding the extinguisher upright.
S Sweep from side to side, covering the area of the fire with the extinguishing agent.
Remember: Should your path of escape be threatened, the extinguisher run out of agent, prove to be ineffective or if you are no longer able to safely fight the fire ... LEAVE THE AREA IMMEDIATELY!