Portable Fire Extinguishers
Fire extinguishers are a common sight in today's world. Many people have them in their cars, at home, or at work. However, many of these people do not understand how or when they should be used. The Portsmouth Fire Department wants you to have a working knowledge of fire extinguishers. It could mean the difference in saving your life or the life of your loved ones.
Fire extinguishers are not designed to fight a large or spreading fire. Even against small fires, they are useful only under the right conditions.
You may need more than one extinguisher in your home. For example, you may want an extinguisher in the kitchen as well as one in the garage or workshop. Purchase the largest extinguisher that you can safely hold and operate. Each extinguisher should be installed in plain view near an escape route and away from potential fire hazards such as heating appliances.
Types of Fire Extinguishers
Fire extinguishers are labeled according to the class of fuel they are designed to extinguish. To aid in the selection of the correct extinguisher for the fuel on fire, fire extinguishers display pictographs and / or large letters and symbols which indicate the fuels they are designed to put out.
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 such as wiring, fuse boxes, circuit breaker, and / or other electrical sources.
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. These types of fires are very dangerous and seldom handles by the general public
A fire extinguisher labeled with letter "K" is for use on Class K fires. Class K fires are fires that involve vegetable oils, animal oils, or fats in cooking appliances. This is for commercial kitchens, including those found in restaurants, cafeterias, and caterers.
Using a Fire Extinguisher
Portable fire extinguishers are simple mechanical devices that are easy to use. Like all mechanical devices, however, they can fail to operate so if you are going to use one, be sure to prepare the extinguisher for use a safe distance away from the fire. As you start to discharge extinguishing agent, begin slowly moving towards the fire employing a sweeping motion with the extinguisher nozzle.
You should become familiar with the fire extinguishers in you home or where you work so that it won't be necessary for you to read the directions during an emergency.
There is a simple acronym to remember when operating most fire extinguishers – PASS. PASS stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep.
PULL the safety pin located near the top of the extinguisher
AIM the nozzle at the base of the fire.
SQUEEZE the top handle. This starts the flow of extinguishing agent.
SWEEP the nozzle from side to side laying down a blanket of agent on the base of the fire until the fire is out
When you have successfully put out the fire, continue to watch carefully to make sure that the fire does not rekindle. Never turn you back on an extinguished fire!
When to Fight A Fire
You should fight a fire with a fire extinguisher only when the following is true:
- Everyone has left or is leaving the building. Safety of you family, co-workers, and yourself always takes precedence.
- The Fire Department has been called. Someone must call 9-1-1 to report the emergency. If the building has a fire alarm, activate the nearest alarm pull station.
- The fire is small and confined to the immediate area where it started such as a wastebasket, small appliance, or stovetop.
- The extinguisher you are using is rated for the type of fuel that is burning.
- You have been trained in how to use the extinguisher and have confidence in your ability to operate it effectively.
- Most importantly, you are able to fight the fire with a safe means of escape at you back. Never place yourself in a position where the fire is between you and your means of escape.
If you have the slightest doubt about whether or not you should fight the fire- DON'T. Instead, get out of the building, closing the door behind you. Closing doors and windows can dramatically slow the spread of smoke and fire. Let the professionals do their job.
By planning ahead, you can do a lot to prevent a fire. But, once a fire starts in your home, there are only three things to do: get everyone out of the house, close the door behind you, then, call 9-1-1 from a neighbor's home. Don't go back into a burning building, no matter what. If you thinks someone is trapped inside, tell the firefighters when they arrive.