Fire Prevention – Don’t Get Burned
According to the NFPA there were 7770 structural fires in industrial manufacturing over the 2011-2015 calendar years. That’s over 4 fires per day! And office fires cause roughly $108 million per year in damages. Fires in the workplace regardless of where you work is a serious safety issue. OSHA has set standards for workplaces. If fire extinguishers are available for employee use, it is the employer’s responsibility to educate employees on the principles and practices of using a fire extinguisher and the hazards associated with fighting small or developing fires. [29 CFR 1910.157(g)(1)] This education must be provided annually and when a new employee is first hired. [29 CFR 1910.157(g)(2)]. Since Fire Extinguisher Training is an annual requirement it can be easy to lapse on your certification, stay vigilant and mindful of your training requirements.
Fires and Fire Extinguishers
There are 5 classes of fires (A,B,C,D,and K) which means there are several types of extinguishers to deal with each of the 5 classes of fires. Make sure you have the correct type of extinguisher for the fire hazards present in your work area.
Class A fires are normal combustibles such as cloth, paper, wood, or trash. Most office fires are class A fires and except for Dry Powder extinguishers (which are only for class D fires) can be put out with any type of extinguisher. And although carbon dioxide extinguishers are least effective, they can still do the job. Water fire extinguishers are only to be used on class A fires.
Class B Fires are liquid fires not including grease/fats/cooking oils. Wet chemical extinguishers as well as the water, and dry powder extinguishers discussed earlier cannot be used on class B fires. Wet chemical extinguishers are specifically designed for Class K fires but can put out a class A fire.
Class C fires are electrical fires. Carbon dioxide, Dry Chemical, and Halogenated or Clean Agent fire extinguishers, are the acceptable extinguishers for class C fires. All others are either ineffective or pose a shock hazard.
Class D fires are combustible metal fires, such as magnesium, potassium, sodium, or aluminum. Only a Dry Powder extinguisher can be used on these fires without exception. If combustible metals are present at your work site, make sure there is a Dry Powder extinguisher nearby.
Class K fires are those from fats, grease or cooking oils. This fire is mostly relegated to home and restaurant kitchens. Make sure to only use a Wet Chemical extinguisher for class K fires. Other extinguishers are either ineffective and/or cause a fire spreading danger.
For more information on fires and fire prevention check out these links below: