If you want your fire extinguishers to keep people and property safe, it’s essential that you operate them in the most effective way possible. Choosing the right extinguishers, using them correctly and maintaining them throughout their lifespan is critical to the safety and effectiveness of your equipment. Here are 4 tips we’ve put together to help you maximise the safety of your fire extinguishers:
- Ensure everyone is fully trained
The first few seconds of a fire, where the flame is still small, are the most crucial. You don’t want these precious moments wasted with someone trying to work out how the extinguisher works. For the best chance of stopping a blaze, it’s essential that everybody in the vicinity is trained to use the equipment. Here are some important questions to ask yourself:
- Is everyone familiar with the PASS technique, the four extremely basic steps involved in operating a fire extinguisher?
- Do they know which class of fire extinguisher works for each kind of fire?
- Does each person with access to the property have enough training, not just on using any fire extinguisher, but the specific ones on your premises?
If the answer is no to any of these questions, it’s time to organise some more comprehensive training.
- Don’t underestimate maintenance
There’s nothing worse than going to put out a fire, only to discover that your extinguisher no longer works. A lack of maintenance can dangerously inhibit the safety and effectiveness of your equipment, allowing an easily manageable fire to go out of hand. Fire extinguishers need to be maintained at the following times:
- Initially, as part of the installation
- Monthly, on site by you
- Annually, by a professional.
Additionally, you should request professional assistance if you suspect any of the following:
- The anti-tamper seal is broken or the lock pin is missing
- The pressure needle has left the green zone
- The nozzle is cracked, blocked or ripped
- The label or instructions have been compromised.
Failure to maintain your equipment is not only expensive and time-consuming, it’s also extremely dangerous – so it’s essential to have a regular maintenance plan in place.
- Ensure extinguishers are properly installed
The way you install your fire extinguisher can also have a large impact on its safety. Choosing the most visible and accessible place for your extinguisher, utilising correct fixings and taking adequate precautions to avoid damage over time can mean the difference between putting out the fire and allowing it to spread out of control. For more information on correct installation, please see our article on how to install a fire extinguisher.
- Choose the right kind of extinguishers
There are hundreds of different sizes, shapes and classes of fire extinguishers. The kind you need will depend on your type of fire risk. For example, a small 1.0 KG portable extinguisher will be light and easy to use, but will lack the power needed to put out a large blasé. On the other hand, a 25.0 KG extinguisher will be far more powerful in the case of a large fire. However, without proper training, you’re unlikely to know how to use it. There are also six different kinds of fire extinguisher classes in Australia, which include:
- Class A – Ordinary combustibles
- Class B – Flammable liquids
- Class C – Flammable gases
- Class D – Combustible metals
- Class E – Electrical equipment
- Class F – Cooking oils and fats
Getting professional assistance to determine the kind of fire risk you’re susceptible to is essential to understanding which type of equipment you’ll need. For more detailed information, please see our article on the 6 kinds of fire extinguisher classes in Australia.
Need more safety advice about using a fire extinguisher? The team at Fire Equipment Online is here to help. We’re highly-qualified and we’ll help you find the most affordable and most well-suited solution, no matter how unique your.