Fire Extinguishers

Each workshop will have a firefighting procedure. There should be a workshop fire warden and fire officers. Understand clearly the firefighting policy for your workshop.
Fire extinguisher
  • Do not attempt to fight a fire unless you have a fire extinguisher large enough to extinguish the fire. Many small extinguishers empty in 8 to 10 seconds.
  • Never try to extinguish a fire that is spreading rapidly.
  • Do not try to put out a fire unless you know what type of fire is burning. Using the wrong fire extinguisher will make the fire worse.
  • Test the fire extinguisher before you attempt to extinguish a fire.
  • Do not inhale any fumes from a fire. Fire gives off toxic gases.
  • Do not use water on grease fires, electrical fires or fires where electrical wiring is present.
  • If you cannot fight the fire, leave the area and call the fire department.
  • See your local fire department for a demonstration of the appropriate procedure in your jurisdiction.

Fighting a fire

Three elements of fire
  • Three elements must be present at the same time for a fire to occur: fuel, oxygen and heat. These three elements are demonstrated by the fire triangle. The secret of firefighting involves the removal of one of these elements, usually the oxygen or the heat.
  • Know how to operate the extinguisher. Read the instructions when you purchase the extinguisher. You will not have time to read them once a fire has started.
  • Never turn your back on a fire or allow a fire to get between you and a means of escape. If you are fighting a fire outside, always have the wind at your back.
  • If possible, get an assistant to guide you and inform you of the fire's progress.
  • If a fire occurs in your work area, remember the PASS word:
    • Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep
  • PULL out the pin that locks the handle at the top of the extinguisher to prevent accidental use.
  • Carry the fire extinguisher in one hand, and use your other hand to AIM the nozzle at the base, or seat, of the fire. Some fire extinguishers need to be turned upside down to operate. Check which way to hold the extinguisher you've chosen.
  • Stand about 2.8 m (8 ft) away from the fire and SQUEEZE the handle to discharge the fire extinguisher.
  • Remember that if you release the handle on the extinguisher, it will stop discharging.
  • SWEEP the nozzle from side to side at the base of the fire. Watch the fire. Although it may appear to have gone out, it may re-ignite.
  • If the fire is indoors, you should be standing between the fire and the nearest safe exit. If the fire is outdoors, you should be standing facing the fire with the wind on your back, so that the smoke and heat are being blown away from you. Again, make sure that you have a means of escape, should the fire get out of control.
  • When you are quite sure that the fire is out, report it to your supervisor. Also report what actions you took to put out the fire.
  • Once the circumstances of the fire have been investigated, and your supervisor or the fire brigade has given you the all clear, clean up the debris and submit the used fire extinguishers for inspection and re-filling.

US fire classifications

  • There are 5 classes of fire.
    • "A" class fires involve ordinary combustibles such as wood.
    • "B" class fires involve flammable liquids or gaseous fuels.
    • "C" class fires involve electrical equipment.
    • "D" class fires involve combustible metals such as sodium, titanium and magnesium.
    • "K" class fires involve cooking oil or fat.

US fire extinguisher types

  • There are no official standards in the US for the color of extinguishers. Extinguishers are marked with pictograms depicting the types of fires that the extinguisher is approved to fight
    • Fire class "A" – Green triangle
    • Fire class "B" – Red square
    • Fire class "C" – Blue circle
    • Fire class "D" – Yellow pentagram
    • Fire class "K" – Black hexagon