CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY INFORMATION PORTAL
Homepage For Construction Industry Professionals
Information resources for construction industry employment and operations
The Right Way to Use a Portable Fire Extinguisher -Part 1by Susan McElrath
Printer Friendly Version
Do you know how to extinguish a fire? According to OSHA regulations, no one at a workplace is supposed to use a fire extinguisher unless they have been trained to do so. Though this may seem awfully restrictive, there are several good reasons for this rule. If an untrained person tries to extinguish a blaze, some serious mistakes can happen. Any of these mistakes can cause the fire to become worse, or injure or kill the individual. This week's Safety Topic features instructions on proper use of portable fire extinguishers.
There are four things to remember when it comes to using a fire extinguisher: Use Your Judgment, Communicate, Ready the Extinguisher, and Use It. You must also know what to do if your efforts fail.
Use Your Judgment --When you see smoke or fire you should use your own good judgment before you decide to extinguish the blaze. Ask yourself these questions:
If you are confident the fire is controllable and your safety is ensured, attempt to put it out. If the answer to any of these questions is no, evacuate the area immediately.
Communicate -- Once you have decided to extinguish the blaze, make every reasonable attempt to tell at least one other person what you are doing. This person should report your activity to someone else as soon as possible.
Ready the Extinguisher --You must select the proper extinguisher. Fire extinguishers are classified according to the type of fires they extinguish. It is very important to use the proper extinguisher. Some extinguishers are rated for more than one class. Some are for only one type of fire. Just be sure the extinguisher you're using is rated for the fire you're extinguishing.
Class A: Use on ordinary combustibles such as wood, cloth, paper, rubber, and many plastics.
Class B: Use on flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil, grease, tar, oil-based paint, lacquer, and flammable paint.
Class C: Use on energized electrical equipment including wiring, fuse boxes, circuit breakers, machinery, and appliances.
Class D: Use on flammable solids such as magnesium.
In part two we will discuss the remaining steps to Ready the Extinguisher, as well as how to actually use the extinguisher and what to do if your attempts to extinguish the blaze aren't successful.