Fire extinguishers are a vital part of any safe workplace, but not everyone knows how to use them. Proper knowledge and training of how to operate a fire extinguisher could save critical minutes in an emergency, and make the difference in getting employees to safety. Ensure that everyone in your workplace is properly trained on how to use a fire extinguisher, by following a few simple guidelines.
There are two key components to training employees on how to use fire extinguishers – making sure that training is done correctly and consistently. Correct training means having a skilled instructor who understands the technical equipment and fire code regulations and can answer any questions your staff may have. Consistent training involves having regular meetings and updates to refresh workers’ knowledge of the equipment.
We recommend bringing in a fire safety professional to provide fire extinguisher training. The correct use of a fire extinguisher should include knowledge of the P.A.S.S. system, which is an acronym for “Pass, Aim, Squeeze, Swap.” Make sure that you and your staff are comfortable with these four steps:
- Pull the pin on the fire extinguisher.
- Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire.
- Squeeze the trigger in a controlled manner.
- Sweep the nozzle of the fire extinguisher from side to side to cover the entire area.
We strongly suggest employees commit the P.A.S.S.
system to memory, and that you or a department supervisor test your employees
on a regular basis. However, operating instructions for fire extinguishers
should also be clearly visible for anyone who may be a position to use the fire
extinguishers in your workplace. Section 18.104.22.168 (1) of the Ontario Fire Code requires
that portable fire extinguishers be mounted so they are visible and accessible
at all times, while Section 22.214.171.124 states that operating instructions for extinguishers
should face outward for visibility when extinguishers are located in cabinets, shelves
or wall recesses.
But there is more to fire extinguisher safety than just knowing how to operate the extinguisher. Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS) recommends that proper fire extinguisher training should include learning the locations of extinguishers, the types of fire most likely to occur in the workplace and the proper extinguishers to use in each instance, markings on fire extinguishers, the importance of sounding fire alarms, health and safety hazards, protective equipment and more.
WSPS provides resources on fire extinguisher safety, including consulting services and online courses. The team at All Protect Systems Inc. can also provide information about resources and training for employee fire safety.
Consistency is important when it comes to training both new and old employees. Training should be scheduled regularly in the workplace, at a minimum of once a year. Retraining can be scheduled as often as needed. Look at each training session as an opportunity to build confidence in your staff’s emergency skills. Fire safety training should also be included in the training and orientation of all new employees.
Remember that different people learn in different ways, so be prepared to provide more than one method of training. Hands-on training is always effective, allowing employees to handle and operate the fire extinguishers themselves. However, it’s also helpful to provide written instructions, links to videos, and the opportunity to talk one-one-one with a fire safety expert, so staff can absorb knowledge in the way that works for them.
A workplace emergency, like a fire, can be a stressful and chaotic time for both employees and supervisors. Proper training about fire procedures and equipment can help everyone to handle the crisis safely and smoothly. Contact the team at All Protect Systems Inc. if you have any questions about fire extinguisher training, equipment or workplace safety. We’ll be happy to work with you to make your workplace a safer place for your employees.