Fires can devastate buildings and workplaces in next to no time, so having a well-prepared fire plan can be the difference between employees getting out safely or not.
As part of a fire plan in your workplace, you need to have more than just a fire extinguisher on site – you need to have staff who have undergone fire extinguisher training too!
There are a number of benefits to organising regular fire extinguisher training in your workplace, from broadening their knowledge of how fires can start and spread to giving employees the training to use fire extinguishers correctly.
The Importance of Fire Extinguisher Training
It’s all well and good to have a fire extinguisher in your workplace, but what happens if there is a fire and no one knows where it is or how to use it?
According to Fire & Safety Australia, less than 50% of building occupants feel confident in how to operate a fire extinguisher and over 50% of the people who operate a fire extinguisher do so incorrectly or dangerously!
Fire extinguisher training instils employees with the confidence and knowledge to evaluate risks, operate a fire extinguisher correctly and avoid making costly errors and mistakes in the process.
Basic Steps to Using a Fire Extinguisher
Before you organise fire extinguisher training, it can’t hurt to go through a quick review of the basics of using a fire extinguisher to put out small fires.
The acronym PASS is an easy way to remember the four steps to operating a fire extinguisher.
1. Pull: the pin on the fire extinguisher
2. Aim: the extinguisher at the base of the fire
3. Squeeze: the lever on the extinguisher
4. Sweep: the extinguisher side to side to put out the fire.
It is important to remember that fire extinguishers are designed to put out small, contained fires and not to fight large or growing fires.
The Different Types of Fires & Fire Extinguishers
In Australia, there are six different classes of fire; this is important to know, as each class of fire requires a different type of fire extinguisher.
The most widely used type of fire extinguisher is the multipurpose dry chemical extinguisher, which is effective on Class A, B & C fires.
Class A – Combustible Materials
These are the most common types of fires, including paper, fabric and rubbish fires. Water and foam fire extinguishers are most effective on these fires, as they remove the heat from the fire and separate oxygen from other elements
Class B – Flammable Liquids & Class C – Flammable Gases
These fires contain flammable liquids such as petrol, paint or turpentine, or flammable gases such as methane, hydrogen or butane, as found in hair spray cans, deodorant, bug spray etc.
Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers are most efficient in putting out these fires, as the carbon dioxide takes away oxygen and heat from the fire. The extinguishers are usually ineffective on Class A (Combustible Material) fires.
Ordinary dry chemical extinguishers can be used on Class B & C fires as well – these extinguishers differ from the multipurpose dry chemical extinguishers mentioned earlier, which are also suitable for Class A fires.
Class D – Combustible Metals
These fires contain combustible metals such as magnesium, potassium or aluminum. Dry Powder extinguishers are used on these fires, working to separate the oxygen from the fuel element or by removing heat.
Class E – Electrical Fires
These fires are often caused by faulty electrical outlets, appliances, light fixtures, extension cords and wiring – they are especially hazardous as they also have an additional risk of electrocution.
Once the electrical element is taken away from this fire, the fire ‘class’ changes accordingly.
Class F – Cooking Oils & Fats
These fires contain oil or grease, often in kitchens with fryers. These fires can be extremely hazardous, due to the extremely high temperatures that oil and fat can reach.
In the event of a Class F fire, you should turn off the stove or cooker, if safe to do so, and then use a wet chemical extinguisher to put out the fire.
Choose East Coast Fire & Safety for Fire Extinguisher Training
The best way to prepare your workplace for incidents such as fires is to offer adequate training to employees through East Coast Fire & Safety.
Fire extinguisher training offers employees the knowledge and skill to ensure that in the event of a fire emergency, staff are confident in their response and use of fire extinguishers within the building.
Contact East Coast Fire & Safety today to find out more about our Fire Awareness & Basic Fire Extinguisher Training for your workplace.