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Business Owners; Recognise The Importance Of Fire Extinguisher Training

Sep 13, 2008
The fire extinguisher is a legally required piece of equipment in all businesses. In the legal sense it is the responsibility of the business owner to ensure that a suitable number of fire extinguishers are on the premises. This equipment is vitally important as should a fire a break out, it gives staff members the opportunity to fight the fire, or at least battle their way out of a blaze. The use of fire extinguishers however can be problematic; with such a large variety of extinguishers out there, knowing which to use for a particular type of fire can be difficult, hence training is an advisable course of action should the correct equipment be utilised.

Fundamentally there are four different types of fire extinguisher available today; knowing exactly which will be suitable for different forms of fire requires training and understanding. As a business owner, it is a moral responsibility to ensure that staff members are given adequate knowledge to understand the different uses of each. Legislation demands that depending upon the business operation; premises have a suitable number of extinguishers on the premises to cope with the effects of a blaze. In most cases the equipment is labelled using a simple symbolic system made up of shapes and colours. In most cases letters are also used to label extinguishers, the use of the equipment depends upon the combination of shape, colour and lettering.

Extinguisher classification normally falls into four distinct categories; these are known as classes A.B. C and D; thankfully training enables staff members to understand the uses of each class; here is an outlay of each:

Class A extinguishers are suitable for use on fires fuelled by normal combustibles. Normal combustibles are generally materials like paper, wood and soft furnishings; all of these materials are prevalent in many business premises.

Class B extinguishers are suitable for use on liquid fires. Flammable liquids present a unique challenge to fire fighters as they can spread rapidly. Examples of these liquids include petrol, frying oil, and certain flammable chemicals.

Class C extinguishers can be used on fires that may affect electrical components and wiring. It is important to utilise this type of extinguisher as utilising the wrong type can spread the fire rapidly and in effect worsen the blaze.

Class D is the final classification and refers to specialist fires that involve chemicals. Normally this type of equipment will contain a material that has been specially selected for the purpose of extinguishing a certain chemical fire. Legally it is a necessity to have this type of equipment should a blaze occur on a premises containing these specialist materials.

Thankfully training will ensure that staff members are able to recognise what type of blaze is occurring and hence select the right equipment for the purpose. Once again, business owners have a responsibility to ensure staff have had adequate training to perform this role.

These different types of extinguisher contain different materials that are suitable for the different classes of fire. Of these materials water is the most widespread although dry chemical extinguishers and halon varieties are extensively used; as is carbon dioxide as it acts to starve the blaze of oxygen, a vital component in the spread of flames.

Hopefully this information has given business owners some idea of the importance of training staff to recognise the different types of fire and how to select the right equipment for the job. In addition however training should also give inductees the knowledge and experience of how to handle and use extinguishers to their greatest effect. Adequate training may not only save money should a blaze break out, more importantly it could save lives.
About the Author
Health and safety expert Thomas Pretty looks into into the importance of fire extinguisher training in the business sphere.
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