Portable fire extinguishers are designed to attack a fire in its initial stage. The selection of a suitable extinguisher is primarily influenced by the following factors:
- the size and rate of fire spread
- the Class of fire (ie. type of materials involved)
- the training and capabilities of the person using the extinguisher
Note: Always follow the specific instructions on a fire extinguisher and familiarise yourself with these instructions prior to an emergency situation. Persons should be trained in the use of extinguishers to optimise their effectiveness.
General Guidelines for Using a Fire Extinguisher
- raise the alarm, summon help and have someone call the fire service on '000'
- keep your escape path at your back. Never allow the fire to get between you and the escape path
- select the correct extinguisher for the Class of fire
- remember P.A.S.S.
- … Pull the pin
- … Aim the extinguisher nozzle at the base of flames
- … Squeeze trigger while holding the extinguisher upright
- … Sweep the extinguisher or nozzle from side to side covering the base of the fire.
- observe fire after initial extinguishment, it may rekindle
- the contents of small extinguishers may last as little as 8 seconds and up to 60 seconds for larger extinguishers. The time to discharge an extinguisher depends on the type and size of the extinguisher
Do Not Use (or continue to use) an extinguisher if:
- the fire is larger than a waste paper basket
- the fire is spreading quickly beyond
- the point of origin the extinguisher is not having any effect or is having an adverse reaction on the fire
- you are putting your life at risk
- you cannot extinguish the fire quickly (less than 30 sec)
- you do not know what fuels are involved in the fire
REMEMBER - Saving lives through a quick escape is far more important than saving property.
An emergency is not the time to read extinguisher instructions, if you do not know how to use the extinguisher or the type of materials involved in the fire:
- Close the door to contain the fire
- Ensure everyone is out of the building
- Ring the fire service on '000'
- Never go back into the building once out
- Wait to meet the fire service
CARBON DIOXIDE Fire Extinguisher - for use on fires involving flammable liquids and safe for use where electricity is involved. Not very efficient at dealing with fires involving carbonaceous materials.
WATER Fire Extinguisher - for use on fires involving wood, paper and all carbonaceous materials.
FOAM SPRAY Fire Extinguisher - for use on fires involving wood, paper and all carbonaceous materials and for use on flammable liquid fires.
A:B (E) POWDER Fire Extinguisher - for use on fires involving carbonaceous materials, flammable liquids, flammable gasses and safe for use where electricity is involved.