Every tradesman knows that even the best tools are worthless without the proper training and experience, and fire extinguishers are one of the most effective front-line tools for fighting fires. In fact, Ontario Regulation 297/13 requires that any workplace subject to the Occupational Health and Safety Act must provide health and safety awareness training to employees and supervisors. Fire extinguisher training should be one of the cornerstones of any workplace safety program.
Once you understand the requirements, you may choose to hire a professional for your fire extinguisher training program. However, you may still wish to familiarize yourself with the basics before hiring a professional.
Discovering the Fire
Even the best fire alarm systems may not be as quick to notice a fire as an astute employee on the job. Before grabbing the nearest extinguisher, train your employees to first activate the fire alarm. Hopefully, there’s a manual pull station close to any flammable material or a nearby exit. If a fire alarm initiation device is not available, the employee should try to call the fire department and summon them immediately.
Confronting the Fire
Once the fire alarm has been activated, or the fire department has been called, the employee must decide if he can deal with a fire with a nearby extinguisher. The fire must be small enough for his extinguisher to handle, and he must have a clear and safe path to the nearest exit.
Train your employees to identify a safe evacuation path before approaching a fire. Once they begin to spray the fire with the extinguisher, they need to make sure not to let any fire, heat, or smoke get in between them and a safe exit.
P.A.S.S. Method of Fire Fighting
Once a member of your staff is ready to fight a fire with an extinguisher, they should employ the PASS method. PASS is a helpful acronym to help you remember how to operate a fire extinguisher during a stressful episode.
- P is for pull the pin. Every extinguisher has a pin in the handle to prevent an accidental discharge. The operator must first pull the pin before squeezing the handle to dispense the extinguishing agent.
- A is for aim at the base of the fire. It’s a natural tendency to want to spray the flames themselves since that’s what does the damage. However, that’s not the way to put out a fire. Aim the extinguishing agent at the bottom of the fire, and you target the fuel that’s generating the flames and put the fire out much quicker.
- S is for squeeze the handle. Squeezing the handle pushes a button that allows the extinguishing agent to flow through the nozzle and towards your target.
- S is for sweep. Don’t focus the spray on one portion of the base of the fire. Instead, sweep your aim back and forth to catch all of the potential fuel causing the fire to ignite. Even during an effective sweeping action, the fire could always reignite. If that happens, repeat aim, squeeze, and sweep.
Fire extinguisher training should be a regular and vital part of all employee training. Not only does it make them more capable of fighting a fire, but it also makes them feel like a more important part of the organization and team.
If you’re unsure how to set up your fire extinguisher training, the fire experts at All Protect Systems Inc can help you. They’ve been helping Ontario area companies with their fire protection needs since 1996. Call them today to find out what they can do for you!