I recoiled at the heat of the fire. The flames roared 5 feet in the air. I didn’t have much time to think. I grabbed the fire extinguisher and cautiously approached the fire. “Remember your training,” I thought to myself. I pulled the pin in the fire extinguisher, aimed and fired away.
It worked. The fire was out. I breathed a huge sigh of relief and turned to the first employee in line. “Now it’s your turn,” I said to him as I reignited the diesel fuel in the metal container. “Remember what you just learned.”
So admittedly my experience with fire extinguishers hasn’t been very dramatic, and I’m happy about that. Fires can spread rapidly causing tremendous property damage and death. To get an idea of how fast a fire can spread, watch one of the “Christmas Tree Fire Safety” videos on YouTube.
Every household should have a home safety plan that focuses on both preventing fires and responding to a fire should one occur. Fire extinguishers are an important part of this plan. You should place at least one multipurpose (type A-B-C) fire extinguisher on every floor of your home, one of which should be located in or near the kitchen. An additional extinguisher can be placed in or near the garage.
Fire extinguishers should be readily accessible. A fire is not the time to be moving boxes and other stuff to get to the fire extinguisher. You also need to check your fire extinguishers regularly to make sure they are properly pressurized.
If there is a fire, your natural instincts may be to put it out immediately. For very small fires that can easily be put out without a fire extinguisher, your natural instincts may be right. Because fires can spread so rapidly, before using a fire extinguisher make sure you:
1. Alert everyone else in the home.
2. Have someone call the fire department.
3. Have a clear exit path in case you need to get out of your home quickly.
If the fire is spreading, if there is too much smoke or if you instincts tell you it is not safe, get out. If you do use a fire extinguisher, stand back about 6 to 8 feet and remember the acronym P.A.S.S.
Pull the pin.
Aim at the base of the fire.
Squeeze the handle.
Sweep side to side.
That being said, your best bet is to actually train with a fire extinguisher in controlled environment. Your local fire department may offer hands-on fire extinguisher training.
And always remember your safety and the safety of your family is the number one priority in a fire. Things can be replaced. Lives are lost forever.