We all need to be vigilant when it comes to fire safety in order to prevent a fire from happening, and also know what to do and how to react in the event of a fire. The affects and dangers resulting from a fire can cause irreversible damage to people and buildings. Fire Extinguisher knowledge is key for all employees.
Employees should receive fire safety training in order to understand how to minimise the risk of a fire in their workplace environment. The key parts of fire safety include: recognising fire hazards, how to safely escape from a building and understanding how to use fire extinguishers.
Fire Safety is governed by the Regulatory Reform (FireSafety) Order 2005.
Employers are required to:
- Provide and maintain such fire precautions as are necessary to safeguard those who use your workplace
- Inform, instruct and train your employees about the fire precautions in your workplace
What are the “Types” of fire?
There are 6 different classifications of fire and it is important to understand each one of these to know which fire extinguisher is most effective and appropriate:
- Class A – fires containing solid materials, e.g. straw, wood, textiles or paper
- Class B – fires involving flammable liquids, e.g. paint, petrol or diesel
- Class C – fires including flammable gases, e.g. propane and methane
- Class D – fires which include flammable metals, e.g. titanium and magnesium
- Class E – fires involving electrical equipment, e.g. fuse boxes and computers
- Class F – fires usually occurring in a commercial kitchen and involving cooking oils, e.g. deep fat fryers
Which fire extinguisher do I use?
In the UK, fire extinguishers are designed for use on different types of fires. It is useful to know each type of fire extinguisher and their uses.
- Powder fire extinguisher – powder fire extinguishers are versatile, as they can be used on class A, B, C and electrical fires. Powder fire extinguishers have a blue label. Aim the jet at the base of the fire until the flames are out. If there is a hand control, you can use this to let the air clear until you tackle the fire again.
- Water fire extinguisher – water fire extinguishers are for use on Class A fires, which involve solid materials. This type of extinguisher should not be used on fires containing flammable liquids, flammable gases and cooking or electrical fires. Water fire extinguishers have a red label. Aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire and use a sweeping motion until all of the fire is out.
- Carbon dioxide (CO2) fire extinguisher – carbon dioxide fire extinguishers are to be used on Class B (flammable liquid) fires and fires involving a lot of electrical equipment. This type of fire extinguisher has a black label. The horn of the fire extinguisher should be aimed at the base of the fire and the jet should be used across the area on fire. You should never hold the horn of the extinguisher as it can freeze your skin.
- Foam (AFFF) fire extinguisher – foam extinguishers should be used on Class A (solid materials) and Class B (flammable liquid) fires. Foam extinguishers have a cream label. For Class A fires, you should point the extinguisher at the base of the flames and use a sweeping motion. For Class B fires, you should point the extinguisher at the inside of the container and above the burning liquid, where possible.
- Wet chemical fire extinguisher– wet chemical fire extinguishers have a yellow label. They are primarily designed for use on Class F fires, although they can also be used on Class A and B fires. Usually, this type of fire extinguisher is used to tackle a fire in a commercial kitchen setting. If you are using this extinguisher on a kitchen oil fire, you should apply in slow circular motions as this is the most effective technique. Make sure you use all of the contents of the extinguisher on the fire.
- Dry powder fire extinguisher – dry powder fire extinguishers are best used to tackle Class D fires involving flammable metals. Dry powder extinguishers have a blue label. This type of fire extinguisher is used in a different way to most extinguishers and requires user training.
- Water mist (dry water mist) fire extinguisher – water mist fire extinguishers can be used on Class A, B, C and F fire types. Water mist fire extinguishers have a white label with red writing and should be used in a sweeping motion aimed at the base of a fire.
What other effective fire safety equipment is there?
As well as fire extinguishers, there is other fire safety equipment designed to help in the event of a fire.
- Fire bucket – a fire bucket is a bucket which is filled with water or sand and can be used to help extinguish some fires
- Fire blanket – fire blankets are often used to tackle hot oil fires, e.g. from a frying pan or used on clothing that has caught fire
- Fire hose – a fire hose contains water or foam and can be used to extinguish fires. It should not be used on fires containing electrical equipment or flammable liquids
Abbey Fire (UK) Ltd offers fully comprehensive Fire Awareness Courses and Fire Warden / Marshal Courses. So please feel free to get in touch with one of the team to discuss any and all elements of fire safety.