Tips for the Proper and Safe Use of a Fire Extinguisher
Blog Summary: Before using a fire extinguisher to control or put out a fire in the home, homeowners need to make sure that they understand how to use this tool.
The fire damage restoration team at SERVPRO of Crowley and South Johnson County understands the stress, anxiety, and frustration homeowners experience when dealing with fire damage. Property damage from a fire touches almost every area of the home. Smoke and soot contamination is widespread, and the water used to extinguish the flames can cause more damage than the fire itself. For the SERVPRO professionals, water extraction, cleanup, and property damage restoration are a top priority.
How important is knowing how to properly operate a fire extinguisher?
According to a National Fire Protection Association report entitled “Home Cooking Fires,” US Fire departments responded each year to about 173,000 home structure fires resulting from cooking. In 2018, fire departments were called out to 470 home cooking fires per day. These statistics do not include those fires that were extinguished without the services of the local fire department.
The majority of home cooking fires involved ranges or cooktops. Leaving the stove unattended was the leading cause of cooking fires and casualties. Over half of non-fatal injuries occurred when individuals attempted to put out the fire themselves. This last statistic highlights the importance of knowing how to properly operate a fire extinguisher in the heat of the moment.
Every homeowner should know the basics about safely and effectively operating a fire extinguisher. All mature and physically able members of the household can easily be trained in the proper use of this valuable piece of equipment should a fire break out in the home. Knowledge and training can enable the quick response that is needed to extinguish a fire. When a fire breaks out, the adrenalin rush can be paralyzing. Familiarity with the fire extinguisher and proper training can overcome the chaos and paralyzing fear of the moment. The correct application of the extinguisher can eliminate the fire in seconds.
Home fire safety tips
Consider the following basic home fire safety tips:
- Have the appropriate type of fire extinguisher on hand.
Make sure that the appropriate type of fire extinguisher has been acquired and is stored in a location that is quickly and easily accessible. Only people trained in the proper use of fire extinguishers should use these tools.
- Call for assistance before attempting to put out a fire.
A fire can spiral out of control far more quickly than homeowners may have anticipated. While taking steps to extinguish the fire, if possible, have someone summon help to be on the way in case the fire gets out of hand.
- Plan a safe escape in case the fire grows out of control.
Decide on a safe escape path before approaching the flames. Avoid allowing the smoke, heat, or flames to block the evacuation path.
- Stay alert to the scope of the fire.
A house fire can spread very quickly because of the presence of many flammable materials present and the confined area of the structure. Seconds matter. However, unless an explosion is involved, the occupants have time to evaluate the situation and respond accordingly in most situations.
How to use the fire extinguisher
Address the flames using the PASS Method:
Step #1: Pull the pin.
Remove the pin by pulling it from its location on the handle. Prior training to become familiar with the parts and operation of the equipment should be adequate to reduce or eliminate any delay in this vital first step. Once the pin is removed, the operating lever is unlocked and ready to be pressed, discharging the chemicals onto the fire.
Step #2: Aim low.
Aim the extinguisher hose or nozzle at the base of the flames. Attacking the base of the fire targets the materials or liquids that are fueling the flames.
Step #3: Squeeze the operating lever.
This action should allow the extinguisher to discharge the extinguishing agent onto the flames. Since fire extinguishers may differ in their design and operation, familiarity with the units that have been purchased for use in the home is crucial. Some extinguishers have a button or other means of activation other than a standard handle.
Step #4: Sweep from side to side.
While aiming at the fire’s base, sweep the extinguisher back and forth as the chemicals are being discharged until the flames are completely out. Maintain focused attention on the fire. If the fire re-ignites, follow the same process of pressing the lever and sweeping the discharged agent on the re-emerging flames. Do not leave the area unattended until the fire department has arrived or the fire has been completely extinguished and is unable to flame up again.
Bonus safety reminders
When a fire erupts, time seems to slow down as the heart races. Controlled breathing and calm thinking can win the day and save lives. These safety tips save lives every day.
- The person discharging the fire extinguisher should always keep a safe exit behind them so that they can quickly escape from the fire.
- Before beginning the PASS method, people should make sure that they are standing at least eight feet away from the fire.
- Exit the home, business, or other structure if the fire is not immediately extinguished. Most fire fatalities are from smoke inhalation. Stay low to the floor while making the retreat.
- If the fire is extinguished, have the fire department inspect the burned location to ensure that the fire has been completely put out and the area is entirely safe. Smoldering embers can flare up many hours after the original fire has been extinguished.
- Without exception, any fire extinguisher that has been discharged should be recharged or replaced.
The staff of SERVPRO of Crowley and South Johnson County is ready to respond immediately when a homeowner or business needs the services of a fire damage restoration company. To learn more about fire damage restoration in Grandview, TX, contact SERVPRO of Crowley and South Johnson County by phone at (817) 297-8588 or by email at office@SERVPROcrowley.com.