Keeping yourself and others safe in both your home and workplace is important. One risk that you may face is fire, which can lead to severe injury, the destruction of property, and even death. One of the best ways to minimize the risk of a fire causing devastation, is to have a fire extinguisher strategically located and available. Fire extinguisher training and understanding their uses is critical and we will establish why below.
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Fire extinguisher training and why it’s critical
The first time you use a fire extinguisher shouldn’t be during an emergency. It is critical that you have training and have used one, during training, so you have the best chance of ensure your safety and that of others around you.
In Australia, there are a number of different classifications of fire extinguishers and these are based on the six classifications of fires. Each of these types of fire extinguisher has a specific use in terms of suppressing a small fire. Fire extinguishers are labeled with letters, and identifying band and symbols to indicate the types of fire for which they are suited.
To give you a better understanding and applications of various fire extinguishers, training is an integral part of selecting the correct extinguisher for a given situation. For example. A fire extinguisher used for car fire is a little different than say one used for grass fire. Which fire extinguisher to use is a question we need to answer. Firstly, lets look at how such training has become more relevant?
How has fire extinguisher training changed in the last few years
In the recent past, fire extinguisher training sessions have concentrated on general equipment components, procedures for their safe use, identification and the classes of fire. These are important factors and must be included, even so, there are numerous other important items relating to emergency management. Designed to prepare the fire warden or other employee for effective decision making during fires and other emergencies.
Other firefighting and emergency equipment
The building code of Australia and state based regulations require builders to install specialist emergency equipment. Whether a factory or the family home there are some safety items that must be installed. The type, size and class of building are used to determine the equipment requirement. Fire extinguishers are just one component. Other equipment may include fire hose reels, fire door, first aid kits, fire sprinklers and many more active and passive systems and equipment.
General emergency management in a business (Facility)
Most activities we perform in our daily life follow a process, whether washing the dishes at home or operating a high tech machine in the workplace. Dealing with an emergency is no different. This is why fire extinguisher training now includes basic information on prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. Trainees are now provided information on recognizing an escalating emergency and what is required to keep yourself and other safe.
Here is an overview of the six fire and fire extinguisher classes in Australia.
The classes of fire and extinguisher identification
Class A- Ordinary Combustibles
A class “A” fire is one that involves basic flammable materials, such as textiles, paper, wood, and plastics. Typical examples of this type of fire include but are not limited too. Candles catching curtains and starting a fire in the home and the ignition of rubbish bins from placing unsuitable hot material in it.
There are four types of fire extinguishers that are suitable for this type of fire. They are water, foam, wet chemical and to a limited degree powder ABE fire extinguishers. You will notice that all of these fire extinguisher types are water based and provide a little cooling. Except for the fire extinguisher dry powder.
Class B- Flammable Liquids
This type of fire is caused by flammable or combustible liquids. Such as petrol, alcohol based solvents, oils, and cleaning products. Fires that are started from combustible or flammable liquids are most common in workplaces such as petrol stations and mechanic’s workshops. They are often ignited by sparks from machinery.
There are three types of fire extinguishers that are suitable for this type of fire. These include CO2, powder ABE, and foam fire extinguishers. You must never use a water fire extinguisher on an oil fire as it will create an spread the fire and potentially make it much worse. In the worst case scenario it could cause an explosion.
Dry Powder extinguishers are ideal for for fighting a car fire if safe to do so. Actually firefighters often use this type of extinguisher when fighting a car fire and the petrol tank has split and leaking fuel.
Click the image to download PDF version
Class C- Flammable Gases
A Class C fire is one that is created when flammable gases are ignited. Examples of gases include propane and methane. Furthermore, gases are often used in workshops, garages, and kitchens.
Many class C fires are caused by gas leaks in kitchens or by gas-powered tools. The only type of fire extinguisher that is recommended for use for this type of fire. Accordingly, is a powder ABE fire extinguisher.
Class D- Combustible Metals
Magnesium, titanium, and aluminium are examples of combustible metals. These fires are very rare in domestic settings as metals require extreme temperatures to ignite.
Therefore, these fires only usually occur in industrial settings. For this type of fire, you can only use special-purpose fire extinguishers that are specifically for combustible metals.
Class E- Electrical Equipment
One of the most common types of fire is a class E fire, and these are caused by electrical equipment. Conversely, this can include items such as home electronics, kitchen appliances, fans, and heaters. Fires are caused when the electrical equipment is faulty, they become overheated, or they have frayed wiring.
You must not use a water fire extinguisher on an electrical fire as this can make the situation worse. In fact any water based extinguisher like foam or wet chemical is dangerous when us on these fires. Instead, you should use a CO2 fire extinguisher or a powder ABE fire extinguisher.
Class F- Cooking Oils and Fats
Class F fires are caused by cooking oils and fats that become too hot and then ignite. The two most common causes are fat building up on a surface. Where by, being ignited by a spark or leaving a pan of hot oil unattended. You should never use water or a water fire extinguisher on this type of fire as it may cause an explosion and spread the fire quickly. Finally, the only fire extinguisher categorized as a class F fire extinguisher is a wet chemical fire extinguisher. An alternative for this type of fire is a fire blanket.
Overall, there is no single fire extinguisher that you can use for every type of fire. Therefore, it is important that you get a combination of fire extinguishers that best meet your needs. In fact, so that you have all the fire extinguishers you need. In turn, capable of tackling the fires that are most likely in your home or place of work.
It is important that you place these in areas where different types of fires are most likely to occur. Moreover, so that you have them close to hand in times of need. If you would like a worksheet for fire extinguisher training it has been provided above, in PDF format, by clicking on the image. STG Fire Safety Training provides both nationally accredited and non accredited across Melbourne and Regional Victoria.
How to use a fire extinguisher