Most business owners know the importance of installing fire extinguishers in their buildings. But installing fire extinguishers is pointless if employees don't know how to use them when the unthinkable happens.
In an emergency, your employees likely won't have the time or mental focus to learn how to use something new. Thus, it's crucial that you and your employees learn fire extinguisher basics now.
Fortunately, using a fire extinguisher is simple if you just follow these steps.
1. Evaluate the Fire
You and your employees should know how to quickly evaluate a fire and determine whether it's safe to use the fire extinguisher. Evacuate the building and don't attempt to use the fire extinguisher if:
You are struggling to breathe
You must crawl to avoid smoke
Your evacuation routes are blocked
The fire is larger than 60 square feet
Part of the fire is behind a ceiling or wall
The fire is quickly growing
You can't see through the smoke
If any of these characteristics apply, leave the building immediately and call 911. If the fire doesn't fit the above characteristics, then call 911 and proceed with using the fire extinguisher. Remember that contacting emergency personnel is crucial, even for small fires. If the fire starts to develop any of the above characteristics, exit the building immediately.
2. Check the Extinguisher
Before using the fire extinguisher, look closely at the writing on it. First, figure out the fire extinguisher's class.
Class A: extinguishes wood, trash and paper fires
Class B: extinguishes flammable liquids
Class C: extinguishes electrical fires
Make sure you use the right class of fire extinguisher for the specific type of fire you’re dealing with.
The next thing to check on your extinguisher is whether it's charged. If the pressure gauge is in the green area, it's good to go.
3. Use the Extinguisher
Using the extinguisher is simple if you use the "PASS" method.
P: Pull the pin on the extinguisher.
A: Aim the nozzle toward the fire, while keeping the nozzle pointed low.
S: Squeeze the extinguisher's handle.
S: Sweep the nozzle throughout the area of the fire.
Make sure to stand 10-to 15-feet away from the fire. If the extinguisher does not have much effect on the fire, evacuate the building right away.
4. Get the Extinguisher Inspected and Maintained
The most crucial step to using a fire extinguisher happens before you even use it. Regularly inspect and maintain your fire extinguishers so they're ready for an emergency situation.
Check your fire extinguishers every month to make sure they're charged and ready to use.
Look for broken seals, clogged nozzles and other problems that could prevent your fire extinguisher from working.
About once a year, have a professional examine your fire extinguishers. The professional should make sure all parts are working properly and should make any repairs if necessary. Every so often, a professional must empty the extinguisher. They must also check the extinguisher's strength and integrity before refilling it.
It's a good idea to provide professional fire safety training to your employees. That way, they can learn more in-depth information on how and when to use a fire extinguisher. They'll also learn the appropriate steps to take during a fire, which can lead to better outcomes if a fire occurs.
Fire extinguishers can be a lifesaver if you and your employees prepare to use them in advance. Follow these steps to protect your coworkers and your building in the event of a small fire.
If you need inspections for your fire extinguishers or fire training for your employees, call on Secure Fire & Safety LLC.