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How to Use a Fire Extinguisher in an Emergency Situation?

Within 20 to 30 seconds, a fire could be out of control in front of you. Fire can spread, doubling up its size in seconds and not give you much time to escape. The quick fire-filled area contains heat and thick toxic smoke. In an instantaneous situation, you have to confront a fire with the right fire extinguisher for the specific type of fire. Learn how to use fire extinguishers and identify the fire class for appropriate fire extinguishers.

Choosing the right fire extinguisher may help you to stop the fire successfully. To defend the fire, the only option you have is that fire extinguisher to restrict fire spreading. A fire extinguisher is a device used for fire safety to extinguish small fires or flame in an emergency situation. A fire extinguisher is not intended for use in a large scale fire. Normally, a fire extinguisher is a hand-held pressurised cylinder having an agent such as nitrogen.

Why is fire dangerous?

There is a presence of oxygen that supports them during a fire. Fuel burns reacting with oxygen from the nearby air and discharging heat, gas, smoke etc.

Maybe you would like to think that it is easy to keep our sense in a fire to do the right thing. You can feel that heat can be 12 times increased from floor level to ceiling. And your skin could be permanently injured with just 160 degrees, whereas the heat of the fire may reach up to 1200 degrees at the ceiling.

Low positioning will give you some space to see and breath better. High heated air inhaling may scorch your lungs, even can cause anyone’s death. The rage of fire and thick black smoke may cause blindness in the fire environment. Fire will be lessening by the closing door.

What is fire safety?

Fire safety is the assembly of methods aimed at reducing fire damage. Fire safety initiatives intended to restrict fire from sparking and after-fire effects.

You have to know the workplace fire safety laws and legislation. Using safety signs can lessen the risk of your company or organisation. As an employer, you need to take proper steps to lessen the risk made under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Timing and placement of using safety signs will help to further reduce this residual risk.

The Fire Classification System in the UK

Why do you need to know about the Fire Classification System around you? If you are a citizen of the UK, knowing this fire classification system will help you to choose the proper fire extinguisher. Based on fuel burning, you will catch up with 6 different fire classification systems.

There are 6 fire classes you will consider in the workplace.

Class A: Ordinary combustible fires

Most of the time, you will find a cause of burning Ordinary combustible fires are the most common type of fire. Ordinary combustible fire happens when the materials are heated and will continue until the heat, oxygen and fuel are available. Materials that are used in the form of fires include paper, wood, textiles, rubber, plastics, and other organic carbon-based components.

Class A fires are simplest to extinguish because water spraying would cool the fire. Water-based or foam fire extinguishers are ideal extinguishing ordinary combustible flames.

Class B: Flammable liquids

Flammable substances such as petrol, kerosene, alcohol, solvents and paints have an ignition temperature when the temperature does not exceed 100°C. These flammable liquids often have a small flashpoint. However, these liquids are able to fire at any temperature when the ignition source is present. The perfect approach is to use a silicone fire extinguisher to extinguish a Class B fire.

Class C: Flammable gases

Flammable gases like butane, propane, and petroleum products have the ability to cause a fire. Lower Explosive Limit specifies the lowest flammable gas content that can fire in the air. That is why flammable gases must be contained in enclosed containers safely. Class C fires can be extinguished by dry powder extinguishers.

Class D: Metal fires

Most metals and powdered metals can burn if ignited, as they are good conductors and quickly pass heat away to their environment. You can see interaction with air and water, alkali metals including potassium, magnesium, aluminium and sodium may fire. Thus, throwing water or foam on metal fires will raise the strength of the flames and result in possibly destructive reactions which can push flaming metal fragments in all places.

Class E: Electrical Fires

Malfunctions and overflowing switchboards, damaged appliances may trigger electrical fires. Electrical flames are not specifically a fire category with their own, because electricity is a means of combustion rather than a fuel. Nevertheless, they are also relevant to remember, because they have their own unique criteria for fire protection.

Carbon dioxide and dry powder fire extinguishers are the suggested extinguishers for attacking electrical fires.

Class F: Cooking oil fires

Cooking oil and fats are widespread materials available in households, companies and professional kitchens. Extreme temperatures are involved in the kitchen environment. As a result, it is a really challenging task for you to extinguish. To cool the fire, using only water will not work.

Distinct fire extinguishers (wet chemical extinguishers) typically used to address Class F fires.

Fire Extinguishers

In that panic situation, you need fire extinguishers to put out small fires. Smoke and burning extracts may limit air pollution by the fire extinguishers. You will need three things to use your fire extinguisher: COURAGE, CALM and the EXTINGUISHER.

There are a few fire extinguishers are listed below that you should know:

  • Water-Fire Extinguishers
  • Water Spray Extinguisher (Water with additive)
  • Water Mist Extinguisher (Deionized Water)
  • Powder Extinguisher (Multi-Purpose)
  • Dry Powder Extinguisher (Special Powders)
  • Foam Extinguisher (AFFF)
  • Carbon Dioxide Extinguisher
  • Wet Chemical Extinguisher
  • Fire Blanket
  • Hose Reel
  • Fire Buckets
For wood, paper, textile and solid material fires

Water Fire Extinguisher

Don’t use it on liquid, electrical or metal fires.

Used for class A fire.

Dangerous for liquid and electric fires.
For liquid and electrical fires

Don’t use it on metal fires.

Used for class A, B, C, electrical fires.

Safe up to 1000V.
For use on liquid fires

Don’t use it on electrical or metal fires.

Used for class A and B fires.

Not suitable for domestic use.
Carbon dioxide (CO2)
For liquid and electrical fires

Carbon dioxide Fire Extinguisher

Do not use it on metal fires.

Used on class B and electrical fires.

Safe on high and low voltages.
Wet chemical
For fires that involve cooking oils and fats
Wet Chemical Fire Extinguisher
Don’t use it on liquid, electrical or metal fires.

Used for class A and F fires

Used at extremely high temperatures.
Water mist

Suitable for almost all types of fires

Water Mist Fire Extinguisher

Don't use on metal or electrical fires*.

Used for class A, B, CF, and electrical fires.

*Applicable to live electrical equipment up to 1000V.

Safety sign

Safety signs are symbols that include details or guidance on protection at work by means of a label, a colour or an acoustic signal, a verbal or hand gesture. Signboard provides information or directions using different figures, colour and symbol or icon that are visible by lighting.

The Regulations in the UK require employers to guarantee that fire safety signs are placed in a proper position. Fire safety training is a must for all organisations and employees such as leaders, managers and supervisors.

Safety Signs can be of the following types:

Prohibition Sign for Fire Safety

Prohibition sign

Sign that restricts activity which can be an increase or trigger danger such as no access for unauthorised persons.

Electricity Awareness Sign

Warning sign

A sign that gives warning of danger for example danger: electricity.

Eye Protection Sign

Mandatory sign

A sign that recommends specific behaviour such as eye protection must be worn.

Fire Exit Sign

Emergency escape or first-aid sign

Sign that provides information on emergency exits, first aid, or rescue facilities such as emergency exit/escape route.

Learn more about fire safety signs with our Fire Safety Training Course or Fire Warden Training Course.

Safety colours

A regulation on signs incorporating certain colours have specific meanings.

According to UK The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996, there are some colours, meaning and instruction on safety colours. Learn more from the HSE website.

Colour Meaning or purpose Instruction
Prohibition sign
Danger alarm
Goes off when there is significant heat in the premises.
Yellow Amber
Warning sign
Be careful; take precautions; examine .
Mandatory sign
Specific behaviour or action, eg wear protective equipment.
Emergency escape
First-aid sign
No danger
Doors; exits; escape routes; equipment and facilities
Return to normal.
Table: Identifies the colours for safety signs

Steps for using a fire extinguisher

Research data shows that portable fire extinguishers were 95% effective in alleviating fire.

There are mainly four steps to use a fire extinguisher. Remember the Acronym P.A.S.S. as follows —

Training Express Number 1

Pull: Know how fire extinguisher is classified. Class A extinguisher for ordinary things such as paper or wood. Class B for flammable liquids and Class C for electrical fires. The red cross recommends to pull out the safety pin or label. After that, the fire extinguisher is ready to confront the fire flame.

Training Express Number 2

Aim: Now, you should aim at the bottom or base or source of the fire. This aiming mainly works on the fire triangle. Burning causes from a different source such as fuel, oxygen etc. If you are aiming at fires instead of a source of the fire, the extinguisher will not break down the continuity of fire flames.

Training Express Number 3

Squeeze: Slowly squeeze the trigger till the extinguisher starts to work. Check the pressure gauge. The pressure gauge measures the charge of a fire extinguisher.

Sweep: Backward and forward sweep of fire extinguisher over the firebase until the extinguisher went empty.

Basic understanding of using a fire extinguisher will stimulate you to make the right decision in an emergency situation. Now on, you can say that you have a glimpse of How to Use a Fire Extinguisher.

For better understanding, you need to check Fire Safety Training Course or Fire Warden Training Course, both premium courses designed to teach you what procedures need to be in place and how to react professionally in the case of a fire emergency.

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