Fire Extinguisher Training - A Critical Component of Your Life Safety Program
Fire Extinguishers are your organization's first line of defense against fire and a critical part of your life safety plan. They are designed to put out or control small fires, but it is vital that building occupants understand and get trained on the basics of fire safety and fire extinguisher use.
Why is fire extinguisher training important?
According to the University of Norhtern Iowa:
A fire is the most common type of emergency for which all businesses must plan. A critical decision when planning is whether or not employees should fight a small fire with a portable fire extinguisher or simply evacuate. Small fires can often be put out quickly with a portable fire extinguisher. However, to do this safely, the employee must understand the use and limitation of a portable fire extinguisher and the hazards associated with fighting fires.
What does fire extinguisher training consist of?
For an individual to properly assess and react in a fire situation, Fire Extinguisher Training generally consists of several components.
The components of fire, how fires start and spread.
Understanding the four types of fuel sources for fires. A. General Combustibles like wood, cloth, paper, rubber; B. Flamable liquids, gases, greases, Petroleum products; C. Energized electrical equipment, and; D. Combustible metals like sodium, potassium, magnesium
Types of Extinguishers.
What are they types of extinguisher and which types of fires they can be used on.
How Fire Extinguishers Work.
Components of a fire extinguisher, how they suppress various types of fires, pressure systems, etc.
Rules for Fighting a Fire.
What to do before fighting a fire, understanding what is burning, understanding how to approach a fire, identifying your evacuation path, assessing a fire's progress, etc.
How to Use a Fire Extinguisher Properly.
How the P.A.S.S. (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep) technique works, why it is important and how it is put into practice..
Fire Extinguisher Training is more than just pulling a pin and squeezing. Implementing a fire extinguisher safety program, informing occupants of the specific building's fire safety procedures, understanding the different classes of fires and different types of fire extinguishers, and receiving training on how to fight a fire CAN save lives. There are many professional organizations that can provide detailed fire extinguisher training for your organization. We encourage all businesses to consider this important life safety step.
This past week I stayed in Miami in a boutique size, big chain hotel. My stay at the hotel was terrific. Helpful and friendly staff, clean rooms and well kept facilities made my stay very pleasant, I would gladly stay there again. Even in this well run hotel, however, the fire extinguisher outside my room was empty.
Walking to my room, I noticed the Class ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher on the 9th floor had lost pressure The pressure gauge read empty. There was no visible means to tell when it was last inspected. The fire extinguisher was in a locked cabinet.
I informed the front desk to the problem on both Saturday the 18th and Sunday the 19th, and yet the inoperable fire extinguisher remained in service through my return to the hotel on the Wednesday the 22nd.
On Wednesday the 22nd, I again informed the front desk and stressed why having no usable fire extinguishers on the 9th floor was such a bad idea. When I checked on the 23rd, nothing had been done although it was assured it would get fixed.
During both my visits to the hotel there was construction being done on the 9th floor, and the only visible fire extinguisher was the empty, inoperative fire extinguisher close by in the hall. This creates a dangerous workplace situation, as well as a situation where hotel guests are at increased, unnecessary risk.
During my second visit I mentioned this issue to a member of the wait staff while asking who to talk to about this. He said that he was not surprised as there has been “an empty one in the kitchen for months”.
I can’t say how long the fire extinguisher was empty. I can say it showed no signs of vandalism and it may have been inspected to code. It likely just leaked.
I do not know if has been fixed.
Yet again, proof that 30 day fire extinguisher inspections are insufficient.
Fire extinguisher inspection
There are building owners and managers in all sectors who neglect 30 day fire extinguisher inspections, To those that do, I say, you’re making a mistake. You need to respect the fire codes and get the inspection job done or start monitoring your fire extinguishers.
Fire extinguishers and fire systems as a whole are not infallible, buildings need layers of fire protection, fire extinguishers are layer #1 in stopping a small fire from becoming a blaze. Fire extinguishers in commercial structures in the United States stop more than 500 fires everyday* That includes an estimated 20 times everyday in hotels.
Type ABC Fire Extinguisher - This is a multipurpose dry chemical extinguisher.
The ABC type is filled with monoammonium phosphate, a yellow powder that is effective at extinguishing fires that 1. involveordinary combustibles, such as wood, cloth, and paper (Type A Fire Extinguishers are also designed to fight this type of fire); 2. involve liquids, greases, and gases (Type B fire extinguishers are also designed to fight this type of fire); and 3: fires involving energized electrical equipment (Type C Fire Extinguishers are also designed to fight this type of fire).
Monoammonium phosphate leaves a sticky residue after use that may be damaging to electrical appliances such as a computers.
Any fire extinguisher that requires a pressure gauge can be retrofitted with en-Gauge technology. A standard pressure gauge has a component UL listing and so does an en-Gauge enabled pressure gauge. So if your building has Buckeye fire extinguishers and you want to retrofit them, you may. Your new project specifies Amerex extinguishers? No problem.
CO2 extinguishers or cartridge operated units, also not a problem. There’s an en-Gauge collar that can be utilized with these types of units and will monitor for location, position, obstruction and immediate removal.
So as you are looking at the Kidde or Ansul extinguishers in your facility and you want to get them en-Gauge enabled – go right ahead.
Fire Extinguishers are the first line of defense when a fire incident occurs. For the extinuisher to do its job, it must be available, accessible and function properly - all things the en-Gauge electronic fire extinuisher monitoring solution insures.
With that said, we love to read stories about Fire Exinguishers doing their job and putting out fires or helping people control fires until help arrives or they can evacuate.
Here is a list of Fire Extinguisher Success Stories from the last few days:
On Veteran's Day, an assistant High School Principal - a veteran himself - extinguished a fire with a fire extinguisher at Whitemarsh High School in Pennsylvania. According to The Times Herald:
Assistant Principal Dan Balek, a veteran, was on hand to save the day at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School (PWHS) after part of the east wing faculty kitchen area caught fire Thursday afternoon.
While the cause of the fire remains unclear, school spokesman Dave Sherman said Balek happened to be in the area at the time.
"The school was evacuated briefly and (Balek) used a fire extinguisher to put out the fire before the fire department arrived," said Sherman.
It is common to hear about fires put out prior to the fire department arriving. This emphasizes the importance of consistent monitoring of the fire extinguishers to be confident that they are available and ready to work.
A small fire on the Orange Line in the Downtown Crossing MBTA Station in Boston caused disruption of service and the evacuation of the station, but no injuries were reported. According to Boston.com:
A small fire in the Downtown Crossing MBTA station Saturday night disrupted subway service, but caused no reported injuries, Boston Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald said.
Officials evacuated the station as a precaution after the fire, which occurred about 10 p.m., MacDonald said. The flame started around the wheel of a Orange Line train, and firefighters quickly put it out with a fire extinguisher before it could make a lot of smoke, MacDonald said.
Intentionally Set School Fire in Washington State Supressed with Fire Extinguisher
A fire intentionally set in the 3rd floor girls bathroom at Kitsap High School in Kitsap, Washington was identified and extinguished by school officials after smoke was reported. According to the Central Kipsap Reporter:
School officials were alerted to the fire and used a fire extinguisher to snuff out the small blaze, according to a statement from the fire department. No one was injured.
Estimates put the damage at about $2,000.
District spokesman David Beil said about 1,200 students were temporarily evacuated.
According to a student at the school who commented on the article:
omg me and my bros and my friendsgo to this schoolitwas so creepy!! there was smoke everywhere!!
We love this comment and think that the english teachers at the school probably will too.
According to the Kitsap Sun - yup, the same Kitsap - a fire at a manufacturing plant on Bainbridge Island experienced an electric fire:
Employees at the rod-and-reel plant noticed sparks and a flame coming from the wall socket about 8:30 p.m., according to a report from Bainbridge Island Fire Department. An alert employee grabbed a fire extinguisher and put out the blaze.
As a precaution, the building was evacuated.
When firefighters arrived, they checked the outlet and surrounding wall with a thermal imaging camera and found no lingering heat. Employees were allowed to go home, and maintenance staffers took over repairs.
This is a perfect example of why you call the Fire Department, even if you think you have fought the blaze successfully. Fires that may look like they have been extinguished can smolder for hours and come back to life later. The Fire Department knows what to look for and should always be contacted in any fire emergency.
Remember, make sure you perform your yearly fire extinguisher inspections and to ensure that your extinguishers are available, accessable and ready to use 24 X 7, 365, rely upon en-Gauge. The only electronically monitored fire extinguisher solution. Contact Us today to Learn More
en-Gauge is great proponent of Fire Extinguisher Training and believes it is a vital aspect of every organization's life safety program. With that said, we love how Bullex Digital Safety is using innovative technology to improve fire extinguisher training for thousands of people (major bonus, they do so while lowering live training's cost and impact on the environment).
Their Interactive Training System (I.T.S) uses a portable fire system that runs on propane to simulate a fire in its early stages. The program takes advantage of a Type A water extinguisher for the exercises (cutting down on expense and environmental impact, while allowing for quick and easy refills), even though the fire unit can simulate a class A, B or C fire. The system reacts to the technique that the student utilizes when trying to put out the fire and ensures that the student fight the fire effectively. With multiple levels of difficulty, the system can provide a challenge for all students going through fire extinguisher training.
Check out this video for details on how it works:
They also offer a purely digital fire solution (called HotShot) in which students utilize real extinguishers to put out 'digital' fires, while still using real extinguishers. This provides a great solution for situations in which live fire is not an option.
Understanding fire and how to effectively fight it requires fire extinguisher training. With companies like BullEx leading the way, ensuring building occupants are ready in an emergency just got easier.