4th Element Fire & Safety
In Case of a Fire...

In Case of Fire, Just Remember the Three A's

ACTIVATE the building alarm system or notify the fire department by calling 911. Or, have someone else do this for you.

ASSIST any persons in immediate danger, or those incapable on their own, to exit the building, without risk to yourself.

Only after these two are completed, should you ATTEMPT to extinguish the fire. [ Back to Top ]

"Should I Try to Fight this Fire?"

BEFORE you begin (or even consider) fighting a fire:

* Call the Fire Department (Dial 911).
* Make sure the building is being evacuated.
* Determine whether the fire is small and is not spreading.
* Confirm you have a safe path to an exit not threatened by the fire.
* Know how to use a fire extinguisher.

NEVER fight a fire if even one of the following is true:

* The fire is spreading beyond the immediate area in which it started or is already a large fire.
* The fire could block your escape route.
* You are unsure of the proper operation of the extinguisher.
* You doubt that the extinguisher you are holding is designed for the type of fire at hand or is large enough to fight the fire. [ Back to Top ]

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.

Types of Fires:
CLASS A - Ordinary combustibles such as wood, cloth, and paper.
CLASS B - Flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil, and oil-based paint.
CLASS C - Energized electrical equipment, including wiring, fuse boxes, circuit breakers, machinery and appliances.
CLASS D - Combustible metals such as magnesium or sodium. [ Back to Top ]

Only Fight a Fire If...

...If the fire is small and contained.
The time to use a fire extinguisher is in the early, or incipient, stage of a fire. Once the fire starts to grow or spread, it is best to evacuate the building, closing doors or windows behind you.

...If you are safe from toxic smoke.
If the fire is producing large amounts of thick, black smoke or chemical smoke, it may be best not to try to extinguish the fire. Neither, should you attempt to extinguish the fire in a confined space. Outdoors, approach the fire with the wind at your back. Remember that all fires will produce carbon monoxide and many fires will produce toxic gases that can be fatal, even in small amounts.

...If you have a means of escape.
You should always fight a fire with an exit or other means of escape at your back. If the fire is not quickly extinguished, you need to be able to get out quickly and avoid becoming trapped.

...If your instincts tell you it's OK.
If you do not feel comfortable attempting to extinguish the fire, don't try - get out and let the fire department do their job. [ Back to Top ]

Fire Extinguishers Have Their 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.

!!! Always be sure the fire department inspects the fire site, even if you think you've extinguished the fire !!! [ Back to Top ]

Fighting Small Fires on the Job

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. Federal regulations require that employers who provide portable fire extinguishers in the workplace also provide training for their use. 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. [ Back to Top ]

Using an Extinguisher? Remember P.A.S.S.

Always keep your back to an unobstructed exit, stand six to eight feet away from the fire, and follow the PASS (Pull Aim Squeeze Sweep) four-step procedure:

PULL the pin - This unlocks the operating lever and allows you to discharge the extinguisher. Some extinguishers may have other lever-release mechanisms.

AIM low - Point the extinguisher nozzle (or hose) at the base of the fire.

SQUEEZE the lever above the handle - This discharges the extinguishing agent. Releasing the lever will stop the discharge. (Some extinguishers have a button instead of a lever.)

SWEEP from side to side - Moving carefully toward the fire, keep the extinguisher aimed at the base of the fire and sweep back and forth until the flames appear to be out. Watch the fire area. If the fire re-ignites, repeat the process. [ Back to Top ]