How to extinguish a fire safely

Extinguishing a fire

So a fire has broken out... Now what?

essential knowledge to assist those in emergency situations

Okay, so you’re cooking dinner and suddenly you witness a licking of flames climbing the air in front of your eyes… or you’ve fallen asleep and have forgotten to blow your candle out now you have a fire in your home! A situation you thought you’d never find yourself in… Well, here you are.

Now let us help you get you through it…

Be prepared, have a plan: create a list of emergency contact numbers and keep them easily accessible. Understand how to evacuate, placing life ahead of property. Be sure all members of your family are familiar with the plan. Being prepared can be the difference between loss of life and saving lives. 

Remain calm, do not panic. It will allow you to focus on what needs to be done.

Here we go… If the fire you are experiencing is not manageable contact your local Fire Department immediately. In the event that you are able to douse the fire you need to have knowledge of the following:

There are different “classes” of fire that can occur. The ability to define the different classes will assist you in extinguishing them swiftly. 

Class A Fires – involve ordinary combustibles. These types are fires use commonly flammable material as their fuel source. Wood, fabric, paper, trash, and plastics are common sources of Class A fires. 

Utilize a 9 L water extinguisher or fire hose to tackle these types of fires. 

Water Extinguisher

Class B Fires –  are defined as fires that uses a flammable liquid or gas as its fuel base. Common liquid-based fuel sources include petroleum-based oils and paints, paraffin and petrol. Flammable gases such as butane or propane are also common fuel sources in Class B fires. Class B fires are a common hazard in industries dealing with fuels, lubricants and certain types of paint. Smothering these types of fires to remove oxygen is a common solution to extinguish the fire. 

Utilize a Foam Extinguisher or Chemical Dry Powder Extinguisher to tackle these types of fires

Class C Firesfires that involve electrical components and/or energized equipment as its fuel source. Electrical fires are often fueled by motors, appliances and electronic transformers. Electrical fires are common in industries that deal with energy or make use of heavy electrically powered equipment. However, electrical fires can occur on smaller scales in all businesses (i.e. an overloaded surge protector or bad wiring) and should be taken seriously. To extinguish such fires you need to isolate the power and use non-conductive chemicals to extinguish the fire. 

Utilize a CO² Extinguisher

CO2 Extinguisher

Class D Firesdefined as fires that use a combustible metal as its fuel source. Examples of such combustible metals include titanium, magnesium, aluminum, and potassium. Note that there are also other metals with combustive properties that you may encounter. Class D fires are a danger in laboratory environments. However, be aware that combustible metals are used as part of the production and other industry processes, and you need to be certain of what materials you are using for day-to-day operations. When confronted with such a fire, common extinguishing agents such as water are ineffective and can be hazardous. To extinguish a Class D fire, use a dry chemical powder agent. It inhibits the chemical chain reaction of the fame and smothers the fire. 

Utilize copper dry powder or various metal.

Class K Fires defined as a cooking fire involving combustion from liquids used in food preparation. Technically a type of liquid fire, Class K fires are distinct enough to warrant their own classification. Cooking fires are fueled by a wide range of liquid cooking materials. Greases, cooking oils, vegetable fat, and animal fat are all fuel sources found in Class K fires. Class K fires are naturally of concern in the foodservice and restaurant industry. Such fires can be very dangerous and far more destructive than you may think. Wet chemical fire extinguishers have become popular in putting out these types of fires.

Wet Extinguisher

Now you know about the different types of fires, but do you know exactly how to use an extinguisher?

A simple way to remember the steps you need to take is by recalling the word PASS! Yes, extinguishing a fire is as easy as P.A.S.S:

  • Pull the safety pin from the handle
  • Aim the extinguisher nozzle or hose at the base of the fire, not the flames
  • Squeeze the handles slowly to discharge the agent
  • Sweep side to side, approximately 6”/15cm from the fire until expended. Keep a safe distance from the fire.

This is formally known as the PASS Method, an easy way to recall how to extinguish fires. 

Pull the pin from the top of the extinguisher that keeps the handle from being accidentally pressed. 

pull the pin out the extinguisher

Aim the nozzle toward the base of the fire. Stand about 1.5m from the fire. Remember to aim at the base of the fire and not the flames of the fire. 

Squeeze the handle to discharge the extinguisher. If you release the handle, the discharge will stop.

Sweep the nozzle back and forth at the base of the fire. After the fire appears to be out, watch it carefully since it may re-ignite.

Consider the following good practices:-

  • On the way out, warn others in the proximity
  • Move away from fire and smoke. Close doors and windows if time permits
  • Touch closed doors; do not open them if they are hot
  • If doors are hot, place a wet cloth at the base to keep smoke from entering
  • If dense smoke is present, stay close to the floor
  • Use emergency escape routes only
  • Move well away from the building and proceed to your assembly point
  • Do not re-enter the building or work area until you have been instructed by an emergency coordinator.

Use a fire extinguisher for small contained fires only. Fire extinguishers are not meant to fight large or growing fires. Only attempt to fight a fire if the flames are shorter than you and if the flames are contained in a small space. Call your local fire department and proceed to evacuate immediately if the flames are taller than you, or if the fire is spreading and growing.

  • An example of a contained fire is a wastebasket fire. The fire is contained by the walls of the wastebasket and won’t spread.

General Evacuation Procedure:- 

Do not panic

Leave the area in an orderly manner

Walk briskly to the nearest assembly point through ESCAPE ROUTE SIGNS

Remain at the assembly point until further instructions from emergency officials

Keep away from the “Incident” area

Remain at the assembly point and wait for further instructions

Perhaps this intrigued you and you’d like further in-depth information and practical training. Apply for our Basic Firefighting Course and prepare yourself, your family and your staff with the necessary tools to help protect yourself, others and valuable property.

Emergency Management Services

© 2021 All rights reserved Rural Metro Emergency Management Services (Pty) Ltd

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse on this website, you accept the use of cookies for the above purposes. See Privacy Policy