Coming across a fire can be quite daunting. You’ll likely want to try and minimize the damage, as well keeping yourself safe. However, it can be difficult to act in the moment if you aren’t familiar with workplace fire safety protocols. After all, you were hired years ago, and ‘did we even cover that during my training?‘ When it comes to workplace fire safety, many industries don’t quite have a standard, or plan of attack, put into place. So, how do you respond in this scenario? While worker’s injuries are typically limited to slips, falls, lacerations, and so forth— a fire-related injury is absolutely possible.
Workplace Fire Safety: Setting Emergency Standards
As an employer, the most important thing you can do to promote workplace fire safety, is to make sure all detectors and equipment are in proper working order. This means that all smoke detectors have functioning batteries, all fire extinguishers are in the correct place, and all sprinklers are in working order. While, on a day-to-day basis, you will likely not need these things— you never know when a fire might occur. Having fire safety gear in working order, and in the correct place, can make the difference between thousands of dollars in damage, or even worse, an injured employee.
Know How to Use a Fire Extinguisher, P.A.S.S. Protocol
One issue that many people might run into, is that they don’t actually know how to use a fire extinguisher. Quite obviously, fire extinguishes have one purpose, which you don’t run into very frequently. Therefore, most of your employees, or even you, might not be aware of how exactly to make a fire extinguisher… extinguish. So, the acronym P.A.S.S. was introduced by experts on fire safety.
P.A.S.S. stands for Pull the pin, Aim at the base of the fire, Squeeze the trigger, and Sweep from side to side.
This system is fairly easy, but allow us to further explain it to you…
First, you need to Pull the pin, located on the top of the fire extinguisher. This should allow you to press down on the level and use the device. After activating the device, you need to Aim low at the base of the fire. In many cases, people try to aim at the flames in order to put the fire out. But the heat comes from the base and the flames are just a byproduct of that energy. So remember to aim low. Next, you want to Squeeze the level that you activated by pulling the pin. This will cause the extinguisher “foam” to release. Lastly, you want to use a Sweeping motion, going back and forth, over the fire. You can repeat this last measure until the fire goes out.
Always remember to use caution when trying to extinguish a fire
Of course, with anything you do in the workplace, exercise caution. Furthermore, know the limitations of your ability to fight a fire. While an extinguisher will certainly help you combat a fire in one, small area— know your limits. First things first, always call 911 before extinguishing the fire. After all, there is only so much you can do. Then, know your escape route, and only then should you take the time to use those P.A.S.S. protocols.
In many cases, a fire can spread quickly and overtake safe exits, leaving you to face severe burns or become trapped. So, create a fire plan, do what you can, and get out safely. If the fire is spreading quickly, beginning to block the only exit, or hopeless in terms of your stopping it, go ahead and get out. The only time you should fight a fire is if it is contained, and can be put out by a fire extinguisher. Otherwise, take that time to get out safely, alert emergency services, and make sure your coworkers are safe.