Archive for Fire Extinguishers

OSHA Fire Extinguisher Training Requirements

Fire extinguishers are one of the most crucial and reliable tools available to respond to emergency situations and to prevent the spread of fires. Fortunately, extinguishers are also lightweight and simple enough that anyone, with proper training, can learn to use them effectively in the event of a fire. The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) requires that every employer provide portable fire extinguishers and mount and locate them in the workplace so that they are readily accessible to employees. It is OSHA’s position that the decision to use fire extinguishers may not be left up to the employees but must be spelled out in an emergency action plan. In order to help ensure the workplace is protected from contingencies, it is necessary that employees be familiarized with the emergency action plan and, where applicable, receive sufficient training on when and how to safely use fire extinguishers according to OSHA standards.

The emergency action plan may designate certain employees to be the only ones authorized to use the fire extinguishers in response to a fire. Such plans would require the employer to provide the designated firefighting employees with fire extinguisher training and, meanwhile, would require all other employees to evacuate upon activation of the fire alarm. Alternately, the emergency action plan may permit any and all employees to use fire extinguishers to fight flames. In that case, the employer must provide an educational program to familiarize all workers with the general principles of fire extinguisher use. Hands-on training should include, at a minimum, actual discharge of the devices appropriate for the type of fires expected. For convenience and consistency, fire extinguisher education training should be provided in tandem with demonstrations of the workplace’s other fire safety resources, such as fire alarm boxes, standpipe hoses and sprinkler systems.

General procedure in response to a fire should involve sounding the alarm, identifying a safe evacuation path, selecting the correct type of fire extinguisher, discharging the tool within its effective range using the P.A.S.S. technique, backing away from an extinguished fire in case it flares up again, and evacuating immediately if the extinguisher is empty and the fire is not out or if the fire progresses beyond the incipient stage. The P.A.S.S. (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep) technique is the standard procedure for using a fire extinguisher to put out a small blaze, which employees should memorize. After quickly checking the pressure gauge to make sure the extinguisher is charged (arrow will be in the green section), one should pull the pin straight out and break the tamper seal; aim low, pointing the nozzle at the fire’s base; squeeze the handle to release the extinguishing agent; and sweep from side to side at the base of the fire. Hold the nozzle with your strong hand and carry the extinguisher with your other hand. Employers should emphasize to their employees never to touch the extinguisher’s plastic discharge horn, as it gets very cold and may damage the skin.

Employers should train their employees in the two main uses of fire extinguishers: 1) to extinguish small or incipient stage, and 2) to protect evacuation routes that may be blocked by flames or by the resultant smoke or smoldering materials. A fire is considered to be beyond the incipient stage when the use of protective clothing (like fire retardant coveralls or work gloves) or breathing apparatus (like full face respirator masks) is required to approach it and it cannot typically be controlled by a fire extinguisher or small hose alone. During a fire drill or mock-evacuation, a designated individual may lead the exit procession with fire extinguisher in hand as he or she would need to do in the case of an actual fire emergency wherein he or she would need to protect the evacuation route.

It is essential to match your fire extinguisher to the type of fire you are anticipating. Not all models will be effective against all types of fires. For instance, Class A fire extinguishers should be kept handy against ordinary combustible materials such as wood, cloth, or paper. Class AB extinguishers are effective against fires caused by those same materials plus flammable liquids. Class BC extinguishers also work for electrical fires. Class ABC extinguishers are multipurpose and are particularly useful to have on hand as a go-to extinguisher. Class K are effective against kitchen fires that involve combustible cooking material such as vegetable oils or fats. Train employees to be aware of their surroundings: are they in an office surrounded by paper or an industrial worksite containing flammable liquids? If your workplace encompasses the likelihood of different types of fires requiring different fire extinguishers, employees should undergo training to identify the different classes of fire and the appropriate fire extinguisher to use in response. A quick identification of the right extinguisher can prevent an incipient spark from turning into a raging blaze.

In addition to training employees about the physical, mechanical use of fire extinguishers, employers should educate employees about the hazards involved with incipient stage firefighting. A majority of the time, employees will use fire extinguishers to put out a blaze that has only just begun to ignite, thus preventing it from spreading and becoming truly destructive and unmanageable. However, even at such an early, limited stage, a fire can still pose threats. These include up to third-degree burns and risks associated with carbon-monoxide inhalation, especially for those with asthma or bronchial conditions, which render them particularly susceptible. Because of these and other risks, employers should avoid using live blazes during fire extinguisher demonstrations. Employers should also train employees to maintain a safe distance when attempting to extinguish fires, and to evacuate immediately if they feel the fire is growing beyond their control.

Operating a Fire Extinguisher

So you’ve got the right type of fire extinguishers, and you’ve put them in easily accessible places. Great work – but you’re not done yet! All employees should know how to operate a fire extinguisher, as well. Every Amerex Fire Extinguisher comes with an Owners’ Manual with detailed instructions on use, installation and maintenance. While specific operating instructions may vary slightly depending on the model, Amerex Fire Extinguishers are easy to use. Just remember the acronym PASS.

Operating a Fire Extinguisher – P.A.S.S.

P – Pull out the safety pin
A – Aim the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire
S – Squeeze the handle
S – Sweep from side to side, until all flames are extinguished

Additional Information:

Fire extinguishers should be kept clean and inspected at regular intervals to ensure maximum functionality. Contact your local fire department as soon as a fire is detected. Always hold fire extinguisher upright to guarantee a constant stream. When activating the fire extinguisher, users should stand 8-10 feet away from the flame to reduce the risk of scattering burning materials. Some extinguishers can remove oxygen from the atmosphere, so use caution in confined spaces. If the extinguisher empties before the fire is completely extinguished, evacuate the area, and wait for the fire department.

Fire Extinguisher Types – What kind should I get?

There are so many fire extinguishers on the market, selecting the proper one might get a little confusing. Purchasing the correct fire extinguisher can save lives and property. It’s recommend for everyone to have at least one fire extinguisher at home and is required by OSHA to have them present at the workplace.

Before selecting a fire extinguisher you should know that not all fires are the same. Different fuels create different fires and require different types of fire extinguishers. Fires are divided into five classes, Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D and Class K. Everyone should become familiar with these classes and their symbols.

In order for a fire to exist there must but four elements present: oxygen, heat, fuel, and a chemical reaction. By removing one of these four elements you will extinguish the fire.


Fire Extinguisher Types:

CLASS A – Water and Foam Extinguishers, Water Mist Extinguishers, Wet Chemical Extinguishers, Dry Chemical Extinguishers

CLASS A:B – Water and Foam Extinguishers, Dry Chemical Extinguishers

CLASS A:B:C – Halogenated or Clean Agent Extinguishers, Dry Chemical Extinguishers, Halon Extinguishers

CLASS A:C – Water Mists, Dry Chemical,

CLASS B:C – Carbon Dioxide Extinguishers, Dry Chemical Extinguishers, Halogenated or Clean Agent Extinguishers, Halon

CLASS D – Dry Powder Extinguishers

CLASS A:K – Wet Chemical Extinguishers

Seems pretty easy right? The type of fire extinguisher you need will be determined by the fire class you will be extinguishing. Please keep in mind some types of fire extinguishing agents can be used on more than one class of fire. Others have warnings where it would be dangerous for you to use a particular fire extinguishing agent.