Fire extinguishers can help put out small fires or control them until the fire service arrives. However, they should only be used when it is safe and appropriate to do so. This article will discuss some fire extinguisher safety tips for New Zealanders.
First, you should know the types of fire extinguishers and their uses. There are different fire extinguishers for different classes of fire, such as water, foam, wet chemical, dry powder and carbon dioxide. Each type has a colour code and a symbol to indicate its suitability for different classes of fire. For example, water extinguishers are red and have a water drop symbol. They suit Class A fires involving ordinary combustible materials like paper, wood or textiles. You should always check the extinguisher’s label and follow the instructions carefully before using it.
Second, you should know when to use a fire extinguisher and when to evacuate.
A fire extinguisher should only be used in the following circumstances:
- After everyone has been evacuated and accounted for at a safe meeting place.
- After the Fire Service has been called.
- When it is safe to do so, considering the size and location of the fire.
You should never use a fire extinguisher if:
- The fire is too big or spreads rapidly.
- The fire involves flammable liquids, gases or metals.
- The fire is in an enclosed space or has limited ventilation.
- You are not sure what type of fire it is or what type of extinguisher to use.
- You are not confident or trained in using a fire extinguisher.
- You put yourself or others at risk by using a fire extinguisher.
Third, you should know how to use a fire extinguisher properly and safely.
How to use a fire extinguisher using the acronym PASS:
- Pull the safety pin out of the head of the fire extinguisher.
- Aim the nozzle low at the base of the fire from a safe distance.
- Squeeze the handle, which will release the agent.
- Sweep the extinguisher from side to side while aiming at the fire’s base.
You should also remember to:
- Stay low and avoid breathing in smoke or fumes.
- Keep an exit route behind you, and never turn your back on the fire.
- Stop using the extinguisher if the fire does not go out or gets bigger.
- Leave the area immediately if the extinguisher runs out or the situation becomes dangerous.
Finally, you should know how to store and maintain your fire extinguishers. You should place your fire extinguishers in noticeable places free of obstructions, such as in or near the kitchen, garage, or cars, caravans and boats. You should also check your fire extinguishers regularly for any signs of pressure loss, damage or corrosion and replace them if they are expired or faulty. You should also follow the New Zealand standard 4503 for maintaining your fire equipment.
Fire extinguishers can be helpful tools for preventing small fires from becoming big disasters. Still, they should be used with caution and care. By following these tips, you can ensure that you use your fire extinguishers safely and effectively in New Zealand.