As a courier, it is important that you understand fire safety and how to use a fire extinguisher. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fires are classified into five types based on the material burning. In this course, the four types of fires that apply to the laboratory will be addressed.
- Class A fires involve ordinary solid combustible materials such as paper, wood, or cloth. Class A fires may smolder for a long time, so it is important to drown them thoroughly.
- Class B fires involve flammable liquids such as chemicals or grease. Never use water, which may spread the fire further without doing anything to put it out.
- Class C fires involve electricity. Never use water on electrical fires—water conducts electricity. In an electrical fire, never touch the burning object—even if it is a person.
Most laboratories use fire extinguishers that can put out class A, B, and C fires. These types of extinguishers are called ABC extinguishers.
- Class D fires involve metals such as aluminum and magnesium. Sand is the best method for extinguishing this type of fire. Never use water, as it may cause a violent reaction. Class D fires are usually not found in laboratories but rather in manufacturing, where large amounts of metals are used.
As an employee you should learn the proper way to discharge a fire extinguisher. An easy way to remember is to use the acronym PASS:
P stands for pull the pin.
A stands for aim at the base of the fire.
S stands for squeeze the lever.
S stands for sweep the nozzle from side to side.
Your supervisor will inform you how to properly report a fire or the appearance of smoke in the laboratory. Do not keep this information to yourself. Alert your co-workers.
Another useful acronym is RACE:
R stands for rescue victims.
A stands for activate the alarm.
C stands for contain the confine the fire.
E stands for evacuate or extinguish.
You will also learn where your fire pull stations are located and the location of fire extinguishers. Remember – the best fire safety is fire prevention.