Fire extinguishers are one of the most reliable ways to put out fires in the workplace. Fire extinguishers are not a requirement, but if employers choose to provide them they must train workers in general fire extinguisher use to comply with OSHA standards. OSHA states that if employers expect workers to use the fire extinguishers themselves, hands-on training must be provided.
In order for a fire to start, there have to be three basic ingredients: fuel, means of ignition, and oxygen. Fuel is what’s going to burn, and it can be anything from paper, to oil on a stove, to metal shavings. An ignition source, such as a spark, cigarette cinders, lightening, heat, or even static electricity, can provide the initial energy to get the fire going. Oxygen is needed to sustain combustion. Once these three ingredients are present, fire happens. Take just one away, and the fire will subside or be extinguished.
Portable fire extinguishers work on this principle. The extinguishing agent cools the burning fuel and removes the heat, displaces or removes oxygen, or stops the chemical reaction so the fire does not continue to burn.
The goal of this lesson is to help the learner understand the limitations of a fire extinguisher and how to successfully operate one to extinguish a fire. While this lesson will help companies comply with OSHA regulations, the intent of the lesson is to be part of an overall training program and cover the safety procedures and best practices for operating portable fire extinguishers.