What is basic knowledge of a fire extinguisher? And why is it important?

Fire Extinguisher

fire extinguisher course

Most people know that having a fire extinguisher is crucial for homes and is legally required for businesses. However, many residents and employees aren’t properly trained in how to use one. The good news is, fire extinguisher training is included in our online Fire Safety Awareness course. In this article, we detail why fire extinguisher training is important and touch on some of the information you’ll learn in the safety course.

Why is fire extinguisher training important?

Did you know that improper use of a fire extinguisher can lead to injuries? Not only that, but it will be ineffective in putting out a fire. Although they come with directions, people often find it a challenge to read the directions when a fire is spreading fast. Going through fire extinguisher training prepares you with the knowledge and the ability to get a fire under control as quickly as possible, and without delay.

The different classes of fires

In a fire safety course, participants learn about the different types of fires, which are classified depending on the material involved. The following guide is how the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety categorizes fires. We’ve included a simple way to remember them:

  • Class A - Fires involving ordinary combustibles such as paper, wood, cloth, rubber, or plastics. These fires generally leave an Ash.
  • Class B - Fires involving flammable or combustible liquids, gases, oil, paints, or lacquer. These materials Boil or Bubble.
  • Class C - Fires involving energized (live) electrical equipment such as motors, appliances, or power tools. These fires involve electrical Current.
  • Class D - Fires involving combustible metals such as magnesium, titanium, sodium, and potassium. These fires are Difficult to come by. It’s rare that you’ll ever have to deal with these types of fires unless you work in a lab or factory that uses these materials.

For each type of fire, there are different types of extinguishers that are most effective in controlling the fire.

fire extinguisher training fire extinguisher training

What are the different types of fire extinguishers?

There are three main types of fire extinguishers and crucial limitations to know about each. Using the wrong type can make a fire worse - however, the label will detail what types of fires it should be used on. (For example: the label “ABC” will let you know that the extinguisher will work on fires classified as A,B, or C)

  • Dry chemical extinguishers - This is the most common type of extinguisher and you’ll see them labelled for the types of fires they’re designed to control. (ie: "DC" for "dry chemical", "ABC" for A,B,and C fires, or • "BC" for class B and C fires. When activated, dry chemical extinguishers discharge fine powder to break the chemical reaction and create a barrier between the fuel and the oxygen in the air.
  • Water extinguishers - This type of extinguisher removes the heat from burning materials for Class A fires. They are pressurized with air and filled about two-thirds with water. Water extinguishers should never be used on:
    Electrical fires as they can increase the risk of electrocution. Water extinguishers should also never be used
    Flammable liquid or cooking oil fires as it can spread the liquid and the fire
  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2) extinguishers - Pressurized CO2 controls Class B and C fires by blanketing the fuel and displacing oxygen. CO2 extinguishers should never be used:
    In confined spaces without respiratory protection
    On Class A fires because there is a risk of re-ignition after the CO2 disperses

Regardless of what extinguisher you use, remember the PASS acronym:

  • Pull - Pull the pin
  • Aim - Aim at the leading edge of the fire
  • Squeeze - Squeeze the handle to discharge the extinguishing agent
  • Sweep - Sweep with the nozzle to distribute extinguishing agent over the entire fire