Fire extinguishers can be effective ‘first aid’ tools in stopping a fire. But, incorrect handling can bring tragic results. That’s why it’s important to sort the facts from the myths when it comes to fire extinguishers. It could mean the difference between ‘disaster averted’ or ‘crisis worsened’!
Myth 1: All fire extinguishers are the same
Not at all. Because fire results from a chemical reaction between oxygen, heat and a fuel source, removing any one of those elements stops a fire. On the other hand, increasing or spreading any one of those three worsens a fire. So, the type of fire will determine the best extinguishing agent to use.
Surprisingly, water only puts out certain types of fire and is a terrible choice for killing flames caused by oils, flammable gas and electrical equipment.
Check out the Fire Protection Association of Australia’s fire extinguisher guide to determine which extinguisher to use.
Myth 2: Anyone can handle any fire extinguisher
In most cases, yes. However, getting trained or at least shown how to use fire extinguishers matters.
Under pressure, such as when stopping a small fire, we don’t always perform at our best. With proper training, you’re less likely to panic when you need to act quickly.
Remember, only attempt to put out a fire yourself if it is safe to do so. If not, dial 000 immediately. Should you need to use an extinguisher, remember ‘PASS’ and follow these four basic steps:
- Pull out the pin or locking device.
- Aim at the base of the fire.
- Squeeze the handles together.
- Sweep from side to side until the fire is out.
And be warned, there are banned fire extinguishers that contain ozone depleting substances (ODS), and synthetic greenhouse gases (SGG). Only ODS and SGG licensed persons must handle these yellow-labelled extinguishers.
Myth 3: An unused fire extinguisher will always work
There’s nothing worse than finding out something is defective when you need it most. To ensure your equipment will work when a fire strikes, regularly check extinguishers.
In step with AS-1851 Section 10, you should have a routine service for portable fire extinguishers conducted every six months. These also need to be pressure tested and refilled every five years or after each use. Some extinguishers may need to be checked more frequently especially those exposed to contaminants or damage.
To be sure, it’s best to speak to a professional fire service provider, like Global Fire.
Myth 4: I can purchase and install fire extinguishers myself
While it’s possible for you to do it yourself, professional assistance always helps. Sure, guidelines on the number, location and display of fire extinguishers exist, but these are only a minimum requirement. Each property will have different fire hazards, meaning you might not have enough or the right types to combat these threats.
Talk to an expert fire safety provider. Experienced professionals will spot potential hazards that may not be obvious to you. They can then advise on how to address those dangers.
Don’t be misled by fire safety myths! Remember the facts when it comes to fire extinguishers. Use them correctly, maintain them regularly and only seek assistance from trusted professionals.
Does your building or property need fire extinguishers? Want to be sure your existing equipment is safe and effective? Global Fire can help. Our team can test and maintain your equipment as part of the comprehensive range of services we offer. We’re also licenced to handle ODD & SGG extinguishers. We can look after all your fire extinguisher needs. Talk to us on 1300 88 70 18 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.