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Do You Know How to Use a Fire Extinguisher?

Post Date:08/31/2016 9:47 AM

Nearly half of the residential fires that the Marion Fire Department has responded to have been extinguished or nearly extinguished by a homeowner using a fire extinguisher. The courageous actions of these homeowners saved thousands of dollars in property damage. If a fire broke out in your home or at your business, would you know what to do? 

There are different types of fires depending on the type of material burning, and therefore different types of fire extinguishers.  The most common type of fire is a Class A fire which is ordinary combustibles (paper, wood, plastic, cardboard, etc.)  Class B fire is anything involving a flammable liquid. Class C fire is anything that is energized by electricity (lights, computers, fans, etc.)  The good news is that for the vast majority of fires, an ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher will extinguish the fire.  An ABC extinguisher is found in businesses and hopefully inside of your home.

Fire extinguishers are a great tool for fighting fires, but they are only good for the very early stages of fires.  Fires today burn faster, hotter, and produce more toxic smoke than ever before.  As a general rule, you have about 60 seconds after a fire starts to safely use a fire extinguisher!  If you return with the fire extinguisher and the fire or smoke is already up to the ceiling or the room is too hot to enter, then it is too late to use an extinguisher.  If the fire is too big, close the door to the room that is on fire and get out of the building!

For an extinguisher to be effective you have to get to it quickly.  Many people have a fire extinguisher in their homes, but it is under the sink buried behind everything else. The extinguisher needs to be accessible! 

Many people ask how long a residential fire extinguisher should last. You need to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation on when their specific extinguisher should be replaced.  Most extinguishers have a life expectancy of six to 10 years. It is important to check the gauge on a regular basis. The seal can fail, the air can leak out, and when you go to use it, nothing would come out.

There are four simple steps to remember when using a fire extinguisher. Think of the acronym PASS.

P- Pull the Pin

A- Aim at the base of the fire

S- Squeeze the handle

S- Sweep back and forth

If you have a fire and think you can put it out with an extinguisher, still call 911 immediately.  If the Fire Department arrives and the fire is out, we will make sure the fire has not spread to any cabinets or any other part of the building.

If you are business in Marion, the Fire Department offers hands-on training on how to use fire extinguishers. There is a charge of $50 for up to 50 people trained. If interested, please call 373-8086.

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