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Fire Extinguisher in the Workplace

Used properly, portable fire extinguishers can save lives and property by putting out a small fire in the workplace or containing one until the fire department arrives.

It is essential that all employees be familiar with the proper use of portable extinguishers and know when and when not to use them. In the event of a fire, employees should respond in accordance with their company's fire-emergency plan. Most employees will evacuate. Certain trained and designated employees will evaluate the fire scene and, if the fire is small and conditions are reasonably safe, use a fire extinguisher to fight the fire. If the fire is large or conditions are unsafe, all employees will evacuate.

Fire Extinguishers have Limits
Portable extinguishers are not designed to fight large or spreading fires. Even against small fires, they are useful only under certain conditions.

The operator must know how to use the extinguisher
The extinguisher must be within easy reach, in working order, and fully charged
The operator must have a clear escape route that will not be blocked by fire
The extinguisher must match the type of fire being fought. (Extinguishers containing water are unsuitable for use on grease or electrical fires.)
The extinguisher must be large enough to put out the fire. Many portable extinguishers discharge completely in as few as eight to ten seconds.
And remember, always be sure the fire department inspects the fire site, even if you think you've extinguished the fire.

Fire Extinguisher Location
Fire extinguishers in the workplace should be placed conspicuously and within easy reach so they can be accessed quickly while a fire is still small. Proper maintenance and records will help employees remember locations of fire extinguishers.Forms are available for record keeping.

The Proper Fire Extinguisher
Select only fire extinguishers that have been tested by an independent laboratory and labeled for the type and size of fire they can extinguish.

Classes of Fires
There are four classes of fires. All fire extinguishers are labeled, using standard symbols, for the classes of fires on which they can be used. A red slash through any of the symbols tells you the extinguisher cannot be used on that class of fire. A missing symbol tells you only that the extinguisher has not been tested for a given class of fire, but may be used if an extinguisher labeled for that class of fire is not available.

The Pembroke Fire Department provides on site training of fire extinguisher use. To make arrangements or for further information contact Pembroke Fire Department 613-735-6821 extension 1201