In the realm of workplace safety, being prepared for emergencies is paramount, and a crucial aspect of this preparedness is knowing how to use a fire extinguisher effectively. These essential devices serve as frontline defences against small fires, providing a means to control and contain them before they escalate.

The team at Hartson Fire explores the importance of fire extinguisher safety in the workplace, offering practical insights into when and how to use them responsibly to safeguard lives and property.

Understand the Fire Triangle

Before delving into the use of fire extinguishers, it's vital to understand the fire triangle—comprising heat, fuel, and oxygen. Successful fire extinguishing involves eliminating one or more elements of this triangle. The right extinguisher must be selected based on the type of fire—Class A (ordinary combustibles), Class B (flammable liquids), Class C (electrical fires), Class D (metal fires), or Class K (kitchen fires).

Choose the Correct Extinguisher

Workplaces often house a variety of fire extinguishers, each designed for specific fire classes. Familiarise yourself with the types available in your workplace and their designated uses. Using the wrong type of extinguisher on a fire can be ineffective and, in some cases, dangerous. Read the labels and instructions on the extinguisher to ensure it's suitable for the fire at hand.

To ensure you do have the correct fire extinguishers in place, click here for our guide to which fire extinguisher is right for you.

The PASS Technique

The PASS technique is a simple and effective method for using a fire extinguisher. PASS stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep.

Pull: Pull the pin at the top of the extinguisher to break the tamper seal.

Aim: Aim the nozzle or hose at the base of the fire. This is where the fuel source is, and directing the extinguisher at the flames won't be as effective.

Squeeze: Squeeze the handle to discharge the extinguishing agent.

Sweep: Sweep the nozzle from side to side, covering the base of the fire with the extinguishing agent. Continue until the flames are completely extinguished.

Maintain a Safe Distance

When using a fire extinguisher, maintain a safe distance from the fire. Stand several feet away from the flames to ensure your safety while effectively reaching the source of the fire. If the fire becomes uncontrollable or if you're unsure about using the extinguisher, evacuate the area immediately and alert emergency services.

Know When to Stop

Fire extinguishers have limited capacity, and attempting to combat a large or spreading fire can be futile. If the fire persists or grows, it's crucial to prioritise personal safety and evacuate the area. Alerting emergency services promptly is essential, allowing professionals to handle larger fires with the appropriate equipment.

Regular Training and Maintenance

Workplace safety is an ongoing commitment. Ensure that employees receive regular training on fire extinguisher usage and fire safety protocols. Additionally, conduct routine checks to ensure that extinguishers are in proper working condition, visible, and easily accessible. Replace or recharge extinguishers as needed. Most importantly, ensure that your extinguishers are serviced regularly by fully qualified engineers.

Hartson Fire

Using a fire extinguisher safely in the workplace is a skill that every employee should possess. Whether dealing with a small fire in its early stages or creating an evacuation path for larger emergencies, understanding the proper use of fire extinguishers is an integral part of workplace safety.

By following established protocols, choosing the correct extinguisher, and prioritising personal safety, individuals can contribute to creating a safer work environment for themselves and their colleagues. Regular training and maintenance further reinforce the importance of preparedness, ensuring that workplaces are equipped to handle fire emergencies effectively.

If you are unsure about whether you have the correct fire extinguisher for your workplace, then consult with a professional organisation like Hartson Fire.  We can evaluate your premises and guide you through which extinguishers are required and how many you will need.  We employ a team of experienced and qualified engineers to carry out risk assessments and regular servicing plus we are BAFE accredited – a mark of excellence in the fire safety industry, indicating that we meet high standards of competency and professionalism.

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