According to the OSHA: “Where the employer has provided portable fire extinguishers for employee use in the workplace, the employer shall also provide an educational program to familiarize employees with the general principles of fire extinguisher use and the hazards involved with incipient stage firefighting.” Just because the employer provides fire extinguishers, does not mean the employees are certified to use them. Workers must be trained to: Recognize when to use a portable fire extinguisher and how to correctly operate the fire extinguisher.
According to OSHA Interpretation Letter, employers do not have to start and extinguish fires to simulate emergency fire conditions during employee training. “Hands-on training does not necessarily mean ‘live fire’ demonstration,” the letter states. “As a minimum, hands-on training should include the actual discharging of fire extinguishers appropriate for the type of fires expected, unracking of standpipe hoses, and test-sounding of fire alarm boxes.”
Responding to a Fire
Before trying to control fire with a portable extinguisher, the worker who discovers the fire should activate the alarm, enabling others to evacuate to a safe area, OSHA advised. The fire department should be called at this time.
General procedures for responding to a small, incipient-stage fire are as follows:
- Identify a safe evacuation path before approaching the fire.
- Do not allow the fire, heat, or smoke to come between you and your evacuation path.
- Use the PASS technique from a safe distance: PULL the pin; AIM low, pointing the extinguisher nozzle at the base of the fire; SQUEEZE the handle, to release the extinguishing agent; SWEEP from side to side at the base of the fire until it appears to be out.
- Evacuate if the extinguisher runs out of fluid and the fire is not out.
- Evacuate if the fire progresses beyond the incipient stage.
If your facility has a sprinkler system, evacuate, letting the sprinklers run, as advised by OSHA.
Reliable Fire & Safety can certify and train employees to use a fire extinguisher correctly. Please call us at 708-597-4600.