The proper use of portable fire extinguishers can extinguish many fires while they are still small. You should be aware, however, that the Fire Department should be notified without delay as soon as any fire is discovered.
These portable fire extinguishers are an important part of an overall fire safety program.
It is important to keep in mind that the successful use of portable fire extinguishers depends on the following:
the portable fire extinguishers are properly located and in working order.
the portable fire extinguishers are of the correct type.
the fire is discovered while still small enough for use of the portable fire extinguishers to be effective.
the fire is discovered by persons who are ready, willing, and able to use the portable fire extinguishers.
Also, you should know that portable fire extinguishers are valuable for immediate use on small fires. They contain a limited amount of extinguishing material and need to be used properly so that this material is not wasted.
In some cases, OSHA may require that an employer provide education to its employees on how to use the portable fire extinguishers that are located in the workplace. Generally, operation instructions are provided on the side of the fire extinguisher. They clearly describe how to use the extinguisher in case of an emergency. An example of these instructions is shown below.
P -- Pull
A -- Aim
S -- Squeeze
S -- Sweep
Fires are classified into four (4) classes. They are described below:
A fire extinguisher labeled with letter "A" is for use on Class A fires. Class A fires are fires that involve ordinary combustible materials such as cloth, wood, paper, rubber, and many plastics.
A fire extinguisher labeled with letter "B" is for use on Class B fires. Class B fires are fires that involve flammable and combustible liquids such as gasoline, alcohol, diesel oil, oil-based paints, lacquers, etc., and flammable gases.
A fire extinguisher labeled with letter "C" is for use on Class C fires. Class C fires are fires that involve energized electrical equipment.
A fire extinguisher labeled with letter "D" is for use on Class D fires. Class D fires are fires that involve combustible metals such as magnesium, titanium and sodium.
Where should fire extinguishers be located in the home?
There should be at least one fire extinguisher located on each floor (1st floor, 2nd floor, etc.) of the home and in the garage. Also, it is advisable to carry a fire extinguisher in your vehicle.
Your fire extinguisher should be mounted or stored in an easily accessible location close to an area where it is likely to be needed (kitchen, basement workshop, or garage, etc.) and preferably along an exit path.
What maintenance is required for the fire extinguisher?
Periodic checking of the pressure gauge (at least annually) to verify if it is in the "OK" range. Other maintenance/recharge instructions can be found on the label on the fire extinguisher and also in the National Fire Protection Association publication NFPA 10. Maintenance/recharging can be performed by local fire extinguisher sales and service companies. However, some companies will not recharge or service a fire extinguisher that uses a plastic valve body.
KNOW WHEN TO GO:
Fire extinguishers are one element of a fire response plan, but the primary element is safe escape. Every household should have a home fire escape plan and working smoke alarms.