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Safely Using A Fire Extinguisher

Causes of fire

So you have ensured your workplace is prepared for a fire? Have you had Jim’s Fire Safety team perform safety checks on all your essential fire safety equipment? Your fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, fire hose reels, and fire blankets are all in working order?

Great work, your investment in safety could save lives should a fire hazard arise.

Poor maintenance and incorrect fire extinguisher usage are key factors in the spreading of a workplace fire. Now that you have your business safely prepared for a fire hazard, it’s time to prepare your employees. Check out our guide for how to use a fire extinguisher safely.

How to Operate a Fire Extinguisher 

To know how to use a fire extinguisher safely, follow the PASS fire extinguisher usage steps. Ensure your employees are briefed and ready to follow these simple instructions.

Pull the pin in the handle. Hold the fire extinguisher by the bottom handle to make it easier to remove the pin. Test the extinguisher by aiming the nozzle away from the body. This allows the user to gauge how far the stream travels and aim more accurately at a fire.

Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire. Ensure you are standing at a safe distance from the fire source. This should be a couple of metres, depending on the strength of your extinguisher stream tested in step one.

Squeeze the lever slowly. When you squeeze the handle, a stream of extinguishing agent will discharge. To stop the stream, release your grip.

Sweep from side to side. As you administer the extinguishing agent from side to side, you should aim at the base of the fire. After the fire is extinguished, you should inspect the area to make sure there are no smouldering remnants that could reignite. Only inspect the area if it is safe to do so – i.e. avoid fire sites involving flammable liquids, combustible metals, gasses, and electrical hazards.

Know Your Fire Extinguisher 

When confronted with a fire, it’s integral to know which fire extinguisher is appropriate for usage. Depending on your workplace, there may be a number of fire extinguishers that contain different agents designed to put out different fires.

To know how to use a fire extinguisher safely, your staff must know which one to use. 

In Australia, fire extinguishers have a coloured band that indicates their contents. They are:

Red = Water (No band, all red)

Blue = Foam

White = Powder (comes in powder BE and powder ABE solutions)

Black = Carbon Dioxide

Oatmeal = Wet chemical

Each coloured band corresponds to a class of fire, determined by the fire source. They are:

Class A
Carbonaceous solids. Any fire caused by a source that contains the chemical element carbon as a basic fuel. Examples: wood, paper, cloth, rubber, plastics, grass. Use a red, oatmeal, blue or white ABE banded fire extinguisher.

Class B
Flammable liquids. Examples: petrol, kerosene, oil. Use a blue or white banded fire extinguisher.

Class C
Combustible gasses Examples: butane, propane, LNG. Use a white banded fire extinguisher.

Class D
Combustible metals. Examples: aluminium shavings, sodium, magnesium. Do not attempt to use a fire extinguisher on a class D fire.

Electrical Fires
Use a white or black banded fire extinguisher. It is important to avoid other colours as they contain electrical conductors.

Class F
Cooking oils and fats. Use an oatmeal or white BE banded fire extinguisher.

Be Prepared

Jim’s Test & Tag are committed to eliminating unnecessary safety risks in the workplace. Employing the most experienced technicians in the country to perform regular maintenance checks on your fire protection equipment, emergency and exit lights, and electrical risk assessment will ensure the best possible safety in the workplace.

By educating your employees on how to use a fire extinguisher safely, you are taking the best preventative measures against harm.

See our other blog posts on how fires can start in the workplace, and the five mistakes people make during a fire for more ideas about how to protect your staff.

Contact Jim’s Test & Tag today for a FREE QUOTE.

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