Fire Extinguishers Work

Fire Extinguishers Work

Recently, a fire broke out in a hospital in Wisconsin. The local fire alarm alerted staff that there was a fire in a vacant hospital operating room. Staff responded with two carbon-dioxide fire extinguishers, and they put the fire out successfully. No major headlines or breaking news situations arose, as it was handled quickly and efficiently.

How would you do if a fire broke out in your place of work, or at home? I recently read a study that was done to determine the effectiveness of the adult population in this country to use a portable fire extinguisher if needed. The study looked at two main things: the ability of an adult to use a fire extinguisher quickly and to put the fire out in a reasonable amount of time (described as an amount of time that would probably extinguish the fire before it grew out of control), and how much difference is made when they were first given minimal training on the use of portable fire extinguishers prior to using them.

Fortunately, a high number of participants in the study were able to use the fire extinguisher effectively. That didn’t surprise me too much. Fire extinguishers have to operate in a certain way to get labeled by a nationally recognized laboratory, which is a familiar seal of endorsement about the unit. All fire extinguishers made today (and for quite some time now) are meant to operate in an upright position. If you remember the old fire extinguishers that you used to have to turn upside down to get them to work, you probably have some gray hair to show for it.

All fire extinguishers are meant to operate when the “PASS” method is applied to them. The acronym “PASS” stands for the “instructions” on how to use the fire extinguisher. The “P” stands for “Pull” the pin out of the fire extinguisher, as it serves as a stop to avoid accidental discharges when not being used. The “A” stands for “Aim” the nozzle of the unit at the base of the fire when you are within operating range, which is usually eight to 10 feet away from the burning material. The first “S” stands for “Squeeze,” which is how you start the flow of extinguishing agent from the unit. The bottom handle is for carrying, while the top handle, when pushed down, or squeezed, is to start the operation. The final “S” stands for “Sweep,” which is the side to side motion we suggest in order to fully cover the burning materials with extinguishing agent once the front edge is controlled.

The study that I mentioned earlier also discussed the training session. Those participants who were exposed to a minimal fire extinguisher training class prior to testing showed an overall increase in effectiveness of 22 percent. I think most of us would invest a small amount of time on something important if our scores rose that much, so this is why we encourage you to take part in any fire extinguisher training that is offered to you.

Find those fire extinguishers that are close to where you work and live, see what types of fires they put out, and review how to use them. That way if a fire breaks out nearby, there’s a better chance it can be controlled quickly and safely.