Fire safety in the workplace is essential. It is not enough to simply have the instructions posted on the wall, you need to make sure that there are proper training procedures in place so that the equipment that is provided to keep everyone safe is used properly. In the event of an emergency that requires action, there is often no time to read through the instructions. A few seconds could save inventory from being damaged and even lives.
1. Make everyone aware of the different types of fire
This may come as a surprise to many, but there different classifications of fire. Not all of them can be safely put out by all fire extinguishers. There are 5 classifications of fire and they use a letter based system of identification. Type A, B, C, D, and K.
Type A fires are the most common in the majority of workplaces and can be simply identified by the material that is burning. Type A fires are when paper, cloth, wood, or similar materials are burning.
Type B fires are a little more dangerous and are when flammable liquids and gases including gasoline, solvents, propane, and paints are burning.
Electrical fires are known as Type C, and Type D A fire involving metals, including combustible powders, shavings, or flakes of metals such as magnesium, titanium, potassium, and sodium.
Type K Fires should be handled with great care as they involving cooking oils and fats often used in commercial kitchens.
2. Get the right fire extinguisher for your workplace
Many workplaces will have fire extinguishers that can be used for more than one type of fire. It is common to see fire extinguishers that are able to put out fires that have the A, B and C classifications combined. If your workplace has a number of metals and elements on the floor, then you should make sure that you have some type D fire extinguishers handy as well. The same can be said of any cooking environments.
Any working environment where you could potentially encounter fires of different types needs to have the right fire extinguisher. This is no use, however, if your team is not fully trained up to know which fire extinguisher they need to use in the heat of the moment. These classes should be drilled into your team so that should the worst happen, they can act quickly.
3. Ensure your team know how to use the fire extinguisher
Once you are confident that your team know which fire extinguisher they’re going to need, you need to make sure that they are able to operate them safely and correctly. The most common method of training people on how to use them is the PASS method.
PULL the pin, AIM the nozzle, SQUEEZE the handle, SWEEP the hose. Pulling the pin and aiming the nozzle at the base of the flame are the first things that you should have your team prepared to do should they need to suppress a fire with an extinguisher. The squeezing of the handle and the sweeping of the hose should come as second nature as it is a very simple motion.
4. Know that not all fires can be put out with an extinguisher
If a fire is allowed to get too large too quickly, then it is probably impossible to be put out with a fire extinguisher. Your team needs to know this. They should also know there are other fire safety supplies, such as fire blankets and heat reflective sleeves, that can be used during a fire.
If the building has been evacuated and there is no immediate danger to life and limb, your team needs to know that it is important they leave the building calmly through the nearest emergency exit.