Security Officers are often called upon to react as first responders during an emergency. As a first responder, every Security Officer should have some basic skills related to fire extinguishing training.
Introduction to Fire Extinguishers
Let’s start with the basics. Using the wrong fire extinguisher on a fire can make matters worse. It is important to understand fire extinguisher ratings. The numeral on a fire extinguisher indicates the approximate square footage of fire the extinguisher can handle. For example, a fire extinguisher with a numeral rating of 4A can handle twice the range of a fire extinguisher with a 2A rating.
The photo included with this post shows a detailed look at the design of a common fire extinguisher found in most homes and business environments. This photo gives you a nice visual of how an extinguisher works. However, the safest and fastest method to putting out a small fire is to use the correct type of extinguisher.
The Five Classes of Fire Extinguishers
Did you even know there are five different types (classes) of fire extinguishers? Many Security Officers do not know this simple fact. Here are the five types:
A class fire extinguishers: Pressurized water, multipurpose dry chemical, larger size halon, and wet chemical. (Trash, Wood, and Paper).
B class fire extinguisher: Multipurpose dry chemical, carbon dioxide, and halon. (Liquid and Grease).
C class fire extinguisher: Multipurpose dry chemical, carbon dioxide, halon, and wet chemical. (Electrical Equipment).
D class fire extinguisher: Combustible metal fires only.
K class fire extinguisher: Wet chemicals (Cooking Media)
FIREFIGHTING DECISION CRITERIA
The fire extinguishers in most buildings are mainly for the use of trained emergency response personnel or the fire department. As a Security Officer, you may have the following responsibilities in an emergency:
Know the emergency procedures and evacuation routes.
Remember…do not attempt to fight a fire unless:
The fire is small, and it is contained.
You have a safe egress route (can be reached without exposure to fire).
The available extinguishers are rated for the size and type of the fire.
If in doubt, EVACUATE!
FIGHTING THE FIRE
Once you’ve made the decision to take action, use the P.A.S.S. method to put the fire out:
Make sure the pressure gauge shows the fire extinguisher is fully charged.
Pull the pin
Aim low at the base of the flame
Squeeze the handle
Sweep side to side
If you follow these guidelines and use the proper class of fire extinguisher, you’ll be properly trained to put out a fire in the course of your duties. This is valuable training and knowledge to have under your belt when you are working as a Security Officer. Who knows, you may even save a life or two?