Fire Extinguishers are a important life saving safety device for businesses. They can be used to extinguish incipient stage fires.
During the Christchurch Earthquakes many companies used their extinguishers to break glass windows, help prop up furniture off people, and used fire hoses to climb out of their buildings to safety. Even though these actions are not recommended as they can damage the cylinders, they were certainly life saving devices during the day.
This Safety Talk identifies common issues associated with fire extinguishers. Following the best practices listed below can assist in mitigating issues and ensuring fire extinguishers remain ready to be used in an emergency.
The bottom of fire extinguishers can rust, allowing for leaks and compromise.
By placing them on the wall, you can minimise the chance of the bottoms rusting,as they get air surrounding the cylinder, reducing moisture and exposure to elements from the ground. Being fastened to the wall also helps people locate the extinguisher and reduces the risk of being damaged by impacts on the ground.
Partial deployment can leave extinguisher hoses susceptible to clogging over time. The extinguisher agent can remain in the hose and act as a plug. If you partially deploy your extinguisher, get it checked and cleaned by a service agent.
After partial deployment, pressure loss is common. Another reason to get the extinguisher checked by a service agent.
Seals and Gaskets
Seals and gaskets can disintegrate after long periods on non-use. These will effect the use of the extinguisher.
Fire Extinguishers left in contact with harsh environment elements can lose
pressure and result in faulty mechanical use. If possible try keep your extinguishers in a clean, dry environment or in a containment unit.
Fire Extinguishers should be checked prior to work beginning if there is a known risk of fire (e.g. Hot Works). Documented monthly inspections should also occur. Annual inspections and servicing are recommended by a service agent.
Extinguishers should be stored properly to minimise damage. It is important to protect their shells (cylinder) and limit contact with wet and metal surfaces to prevent rust. Extinguishers should not be stored in extreme temperatures to avoid pressure loss.
Extinguishers that have been partially deployed should be replaced and/ or recharged before entering back into service. A service agent will be able to carry out this for you, and ensure it is in good working order again.
Ensure your extinguisher has a safety pin present and in place to prevent accidental discharge.
Only operate a Fire Extinguisher if it safe to do so. If in doubt, get out.
Always try work in pairs for safety.
Ensure the extinguisher is for the correct type of fire before using. The wrong type of extinguisher could make the fire worse.
If you need to use your Fire Extinguisher to break glass or prop up furniture in a emergency, please be aware of the risk of damaging the cylinder and/ or accidentally discharging the extinguisher from the actions. Using a extinguisher for these actions is not recommended, however they can occasionally be the only option. If you do use your extinguisher for these actions, please get your extinguisher, checked for damage.
Using the Extinguisher
If you need to use a Fire Extinguisher remember PASS
P - Pull the Pin
Pull the pin, breaking the seal. When in place, the pin keeps the handle from being pressed and accidentally operating the extinguisher. Immediately test the extinguisher (aiming away from operator). This is to ensure extinguisher works and to show the operator how far the stream travels.
A - Aim
Approach the fire standing at a safe distance. Aim the nozzle or outlet towards the base of the fire.
Squeeze the handles together to discharge the extinguishing agent.
S - Sweep
Sweep the nozzle from side to side as you approach the fire, directing the extinguishing agent at the base of the flames. Probe for hot spots the could reignite the fire once extinguished.
Our team are available if you require assistance with Emergency Response and Emergency Maps. Please contact us if you require any advice