Fire Extinguishers and Preparing for a Fire Emergency
OSHA requires that employees be educated in the use of fire extinguishers every year. Specifically, OSHA 29 CFR 1910.157(g) states: 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.
Some common classes of fire extinguishers that are available are: (1) Class A: water; (2) Class BC: CO2; and (3) Class ABC: dry chemical powder. Many types of specialized fire extinguishers are available so employees must know exactly which tools are available and how they work. In addition, users must understand that operating a fire extinguisher which does not match the class of fire at hand can actually increase the fire hazard and endanger the user and those nearby.
For example, water extinguishers should not be used on class C (electrically charged) fires due to the obvious risk of shock. CO2 extinguishers can be effective on class B fires (flammable liquids) but are not recommended for wood-burning combustibles since hot embers tend to rekindle once the CO2 agent has dissipated. Talking about the classes of fires and the best fire extinguisher for each situation is essential in any fire safety training program.
Teach employees how to identify an extinguisher, including its class and the size of fire it is designed to combat by the codings and markings on the fire extinguisher label. Help employees identify the actual extinguishers found around their place of work. Have employees point out and pick up the extinguishers they could actually be using in an emergency situation. Users are often surprised by the weight of an extinguisher, and it is important that they feel comfortable handling the devices. Ensure that extinguishers throughout the workplace are easily accessible.
All Safety Products, Inc. provides fire extinguishers* from Amerex that covers ABC Dry chemical fire extinguishers with aluminum valve construction, Class B fire extinguishers, with various options and models such as Halotron I , sodium chloride, carbon dioxide, water mist fire extinguishers, Halotron I, and F.M. approved fire extinguishers.
*To ensure you are meeting OSHA requirements and other applicable safety standards and practices, it is best to hire a professional safety consultant (www.aiha.org) or call your local OSHA area office or your state OSHA Consultation Services for their interpretation of your situation.