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Fire Extinguisher Knowledge is Critical

Would you know how to use a fire extinguisher in the event of an emergency? Would your staff members and coworkers know which extinguisher to choose and how to discharge it safely?

While many buildings are stocked with extinguishers at key locations, their effectiveness is lost if people are afraid to use them in an emergency or simply lack the know-how of how use them safely.

Nearly three in four Americans have never used a fire extinguisher, according to polls. More than half of adults surveyed by Harris, 55 percent, have never used or received training on the proper operation of a fire extinguisher. According to the NFPA, “Once a fire begins its size and intensity can double in just 60 seconds.” This makes quick action critical if a fire breaks out. Fire extinguisher training helps to ensure proper use and confidence in the event of an emergency.

Extinguisher dataAt a recent Fire Protection Team training session at a local nursing home, most employees claimed to have knowledge of the acronym PASS – a commonly-used reminder of the steps involved in fire extinguisher use (see below). However, after an on the spot quiz from the FPT trainer, it was clear they were a bit unsure.

Life Safety Codes require both the placement and training in the proper use of fire extinguishers in commercial buildings. In fact, training sessions are required by OSHA requirement 1910.157(g)

“Where the employer has provided portable fire extinguishers for employee use in the workplace, the employer shall also provide an educational program to familiarize employees with the general principles of fire extinguisher use and the hazards involved with incipient stage fire fighting.”

Fire Protection Team training sessions are designed to both satisfy the OSHA standard and prepare employees for an emergency.

How does a training session work? Prior to the training event, Fire Protection Team sets up a tub filled with water with a pipe running underneath that delivers propane to the tank to act as fuel for the fire. This demo setup is designed to maximize safety of all participants and our staff. The propane that acts as fuel comes from a propane tank similar to the one on your gas grill at home. This allows for the fire to be turned on or off with the twist of a dial. Additionally, using propane ensures there is no mess left at the site of the demo. CO2 extinguishers are used to ensure no powdery mess is left at the site.

Fire Protection Team provides the all the extinguishers needed for the training. The trainer reviews topics such as types of fires, various types of extinguishers, proper use of a fire extinguisher and most importantly what to do in case of an emergency.

The acronym PASS provides a convenient way to remember the necessary steps for fire extinguisher use.

P – Pull or twist the pin, essentially breaking the seal and “unlocking” the extinguisher.

A – Aim at the base of fire, standing 6 to 8 feet away.

S – Squeeze the lever on the top releasing the agent used to extinguish the fire.

S – Sweep across the base of the fire.

After each individual successfully extinguishers the fire, the trainer answers any questions or concerns that may have come up throughout the training.

For questions about what type of extinguisher would best fit your needs, or to schedule a fire extinguisher training class, contact rob@fireprotectiontesting.com.

Wondering if your building is up to code? Contact Fire Protection Team for a free compliance audit. Fire Protection Team, with locations in Connecticut and Southern New Hampshire, is the Northeast’s premiere source for fire protection and life safety needs.

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