Monday, January 20, 2014

Get Fired Up: Fire Prevention and Fire Extinguisher Types and Uses

Are your employees prepared to deal with fire related emergencies? Are your employees well versed in safe material handling, to prevent fire situations from getting started? Just how successful is your safety program? To answer those questions, it’s time to get fired up - think about the types of emergencies that could occur in your work place, whether you’re working in a dental office, health care clinic, or veterinary practice. Get your emergency response plans in place, and learn the do’s and don’ts of fire emergency, before anything has a chance to  heat up!

To prevent fires, and deal with them if they occur, your work team should know a little bit about what causes a fire - a fire is a chemical reaction that happens when oxygen and fuel meet an ignition source. Preventing that combination from occurring through safe material handling practices is vitally important. And should a fire occur, it’s also important to realize there are different types of fire, and that different fire types require different fire extinguishers.

There are basically five different kinds of fire:

Class A fires: These are fueled by standard combustible items such as paper, wood, rubber, and plastic.

Class B fires: These types of fires are fueled by flammable and combustible liquids, for example: gasoline, alcohol, oil-based paints, and flammable gases.

Class C fires: These fires are caused by the involvement of electrical equipment.

Class D fires: This type of fire involves combustible metals, which include titanium, sodium, and magnesium.

Class K fires: Usually thought of as a “cooking fires,” this type of fire involves vegetable or animal oils.

It’s important to remember that just as there are different types of fires, there are also different types of fire extinguishers. Choosing the appropriate type for your workplace is key for fire safety. Common fire extinguishers include Class A, for water based extinguishers, Class BC which uses CO2, and Class ABC which is a powdered, dry chemical type of extinguisher.  You need to determine which type of extinguisher works best in your workplace, and if there are multiple extinguishers necessary, employees need to know what type and size of fire each extinguisher is designed to handle. Extinguishers are clearly marked as to what types of fires they can be used to combat.

Of course, employees shouldn’t use a portable fire extinguisher of any kind on any fire larger than they are. The location and heat level of the fire, as well as the presence of smoke should also be assessed before use. Staff must maintain a proper distance from a fire, and know how to move away from a fire once it’s under control.
And if extinguishers are not called for, and exiting the fire situation is, employees should be well versed in exit routes from the premises.

So, before the burning question becomes can you survive a work place fire, set up the safety guidelines for exit routes and fire-handling protocols that will keep everyone safe. And of course, if you need help getting started, MedTrainer can provide expert assistance through skilled online training resources.


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