No one ever said that being a firefighter was an easy job. In fact, it can be downright dangerous at times. One of the firefighters’ biggest challenges is determining when to fight a fire and when to back off. If they are too aggressive, they could put themselves in danger. But if they are too passive, they could let the fire get out of control. This blog post will discuss some factors firefighters must consider when making this decision.
One of the most important factors is the type of fire. It is usually best to let it burn if it is a fast-moving, out-of-control wildfire. The firefighters’ job, in this case, is to focus on protecting homes and other structures in the path of the fire. But if the fire is burning slowly and is contained, the firefighters may be able to put it out.
Another factor to consider is the terrain. If the fire is in a remote area with difficult terrain, it may not be worth the risk for the firefighters to try to fight it. But if the fire is in a more accessible area, they may be able to get a handle on it.
Of course, the safety of firefighters is always the top priority. If they doubt whether they can safely fight the fire, they will usually err on the side of caution and back off.
Making decisions about when to fight a fire and when to back off is never easy. But by considering all of the factors, firefighters can make the best decision for the situation.
When to fight the fire
Fight the fire only if all of the following are true:
- Everyone has left or is leaving the building.
- The fire department is being called.
- The fire is small and confined to the immediate area where it started (wastebasket, cushion, small appliance, etc.)
- Your extinguisher is rated for the fire you are fighting AND is in good working order.
- You know how to use the extinguisher and can operate it effectively
If you have the slightest doubt about whether you should fight the fire – DON’T! Instead, get out and close the door behind you.
Protect Yourself At All Times!!!
- Stay low. Avoid breathing the heated smoke and fumes or the extinguishing agent.
- If the fire starts to spread or threatens your escape route, get out immediately and close the door to contain the fire.
If you ever need to use an extinguisher, just think of the word “PASS.”
- Pull the Pin at the top of the extinguisher. The pin releases a locking mechanism and will allow you to discharge the extinguisher.
- Aim at the base of the fire, not the flames. This is important – to put out the fire, you must extinguish the fuel.
- Squeeze the lever slowly. This will release the extinguishing agent in the extinguisher. If the handle is released, the discharge will stop.
- Sweep from side to side. Using a sweeping motion, move the fire extinguisher back and forth until the fire is completely out. Operate the extinguisher from a safe distance,
- Be sure to read the instructions on your fire extinguisher – different fire extinguishers recommend operating from different distances. Remember: Aim at the fire’s base, not the flames!!!
Following these procedures can extinguish a fire in the quickest and safest manner possible.
Extinguishers Must Fit the Fire
- Class A extinguishers are for ordinary combustible materials such as paper, wood, cardboard, and most plastics.
- Class B fires involve flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, grease, and oil.
- Class C fires involve energized electrical equipment, such as appliances, wiring, and outlets. Never use water to extinguish class C fires. The risk of electrical shock is too great!
- Class D fire extinguishers are for fires that involve
combustible metal alloys (commonly found in a chemical lab). The extinguisher must match the metal. It will be labeled with a list of metals that match the extinguishing agent.
- Class K fire extinguishers are for fires that involve cooking oils, trans-fats, or fats in
cooking appliances and are typically found in restaurant and cafeteria kitchens.
When not to fight the fire
There are times when you should not fight a fire with a portable extinguisher:
- If the fire is spreading beyond the immediate area or is already a large fire.
- If the fire could block your escape route.
- If you doubt whether the extinguisher is the proper type for the fire at hand.
If even one of these conditions is true, leave immediately, close off the area, and leave the fire to the fire department.
A portable fire extinguisher can put out a small fire or contain it until the fire department arrives.
Portable extinguishers are not designed to fight a large or spreading fire. Even against small fires, they are useful only under the right conditions:
- An extinguisher must be large enough for the fire at hand. It must be fully charged and in working order.
- The operator must know how to use the extinguisher quickly without taking time to read directions during an emergency.
- The operator must be reasonably strong to lift and operate the extinguisher