|Fire Extinguisher Training at St. Mary’s College of Maryland|
|By PIO / Fire Prevention Officer Scot Best|
|August 23, 2021|
St. Mary’s College of Maryland routinely asks Ridge VFD to teach their new group of Resident Assistants (RAs) about fire extinguishers and fire safety. Very often, major catastrophes can be avoided through the proper use of a portable fire extinguisher. They are intended to be used during the “incipient stage” of a fire (just started and/or is small) when the extinguisher can minimize damage and promote life safety. With proper training and education, fire extinguishers can save lives and property.
The objectives of our fire extinguisher training were to:
The RAs were briefly taught about the Fire Tetrahedron; the four things required for combustion = Fuel, Oxygen, Heat, and Chemical Chain Reaction. Removing any one of these four aspects will stop a fire. The extinguisher can cool material below its ignition temperature, remove the oxygen from the process (smother), or interrupt the chemical chain reaction.
Being able to properly identify the fuel burning in a fire is essential in choosing the proper portable fire extinguisher to do the job. The letter on the extinguisher corresponds with which class of fire the extinguisher is best suited for. For instance, an ABC extinguisher is best suited for use on Class A, B, and C fires. That said, the RAs were advised that they may only have one type of extinguisher provided (multipurpose).
Types of Fires, Classes, and Agents:
Knowing where fire extinguishers are located and what class they are is the first step in fighting the small fire. Extinguishers are typically strategically located throughout a building based on the class of fire. The RAs were advised to make sure extinguishers are readily accessible and are mounted for ease of recognition and use. Many Fire Codes require extinguishers to be located at an exit door. This allows persons to evacuate or, if safe, to obtain the extinguisher and begin to fight the fire without being trapped in a room or area. Know where they are in your area!
For proper extinguisher use, the students were taught to remember the word P.A.S.S.:
We then explained to the students that once an extinguisher has been used (even if the plastic tab has been broken in anticipation of use but no agent expelled), have the extinguisher inspected, serviced, and recharged. DO NOT put a “used” extinguisher back on its rack or hook.
A brief discussion on firefighting decision criteria was held. In this, the students were asked to consider and understand:
RVFD educators advised the students to ALWAYS position themselves with an exit or means of escape at their back before they attempt to use a fire extinguisher to put out a fire. In case the extinguisher malfunctions, or something unexpected happens, they need to be able to get out quickly and not become trapped.
In addition, they were taught to NEVER fight a fire if:
Aside from fire extinguisher use, students were reminded to NEVER ignore a fire alarm. Topics stressed included:
Ridge VFD encourages citizens to contact us, or their local fire department, if they would like fire extinguisher training or have any questions.