FIRE SAFETY FOR EVERYONE
by Dr. Isabel Perry,
“The Safety Doctor”
Every year millions of dollars of damage occur because of
fires, but more importantly, people are hurt and LIVES ARE LOST.
Fire prevention is a critical part of an active Health and
Safety plan. Everyone needs to know what
to do in case of a fire, and what he or she can do to prevent the conditions that can cause a fire.
FIRES ARE CAUSED BY….
Fires begin when three elements come together: oxygen, fuel,
and heat. We can’t do anything about oxygen, which is in the air. However, we can make sure that fuels and heat
don’t join oxygen. Fuels can be
anything from paper, wood and candles to gasoline and other combustible
materials. Heat is caused by everything from open flames and sparks to
friction and electricity.
IF A FIRE OCCURS
management should have established procedures for reporting fires as part of
the company Health and Safety Plan. The procedures in this plan should be
reviewed regularly, because they are easy to forget in an emergency situation.
In the unfortunate situation that a fire does occur, what do
Report: No matter how small you think a fire is – report it. It only takes seconds for a small fire to get
out of control. Also, what you can see
may not be the whole fire. Only trained
professionals can tell for certain.
for evacuation if it is necessary. Even
a small fire may require evacuation; you won’t know until you report the
fire to someone.
There are several different types of fire extinguishers,
each for a specific use. It is important to verify that you have the right fire
extinguishers to do the job. These are
the types of fire extinguishers needed:
Ordinary materials like paper, cloth, trash and
wood need a CLASS A
Gases, flammable materials like grease, oil,
paint or solvents require a CLASS B
Electrical equipment requires CLASS C. Never use water on an
Combustible metals like magnesium, sodium,
potassium and sodium-potassium alloys, as well as lithium and lithium alloy - CLASS
Combination fires need CLASSES ABD and BC
To save people having to remember what class of fire
extinguisher to use in an emergency, a simple sign should be posted over each
fire extinguisher that says something like:
It is also advisable to post a diagram (large enough to be
seen without glasses) on the wall next to the extinguisher or as part of the
sign, that shows how to use the fire extinguisher. These instructions should be
reviewed in regular health and safety classes. In the excitement of an emergency, it may be difficult to remember what
Fire extinguishers must be checked yearly to keep them
current and legal.
Basic principals of using a fire extinguisher:
Stand about 8 feet away from the fire and pull
Aim at the base of the fire
Try not to blow sparks away, causing the fire to
get even larger than it is.
For larger fires, get out and leave it to the
Material possessions can be
replaced, people cannot!
HOW CAN WE PREVENT FIRES?
There are a number of things that can be done to avoid the
possibility of a fire occurring. Take an
inventory of your area, looking for potential fire hazards such as materials
that are sitting or stacked together, or flammable materials like paper or
cloth placed near an electrical outlet or a lamp. Here are specific measures you can take:
Smoke in designated areas only.
Don’t leave cigarette butts lying around –
dispose of them properly. You may think your
cigarette is out, but it might get blown into an area that’s potentially
dangerous and spark a fire.
Make sure that smoking materials and matches are
put out thrown away in the proper receptacles.
Space heaters should be authorized for use
first, even in approved areas. Extra
care should be used to make sure they don’t touch anything while on and are
turned off after use.
Lubricate bearings, gears and moving joints so
they don’t get hot.
Make sure that moving parts don’t rub against
Debris and grease should be kept clear
The number one cause
of industrial fires is the misuse or failure of electrical equipment.
Check equipment regularly; checking at the start
of each shift would not be excessive
Replace frayed or worn cords and wires
Don’t overload outlets, circuits, motors or
Have a good ground connection
Store them in approved containers
Clean up spills immediately
Dispose of both flammables and clean up
materials quickly and properly
Know what is flammable – check labels
Never store flammable materials around oxidizers
When working with flammable material always use
the proper tools and equipment
USE FLAMMABLES IN WELL VENTILATED AREAS
Before cutting or heating a container, make sure
it’s safe; make sure you know WHAT WAS IN
Avoid creating static electricity by grounding a
container before you transfer flammable materials
General Safety Tips
Keep all work areas as free of dust, lint, wood,
grease, oil, trash, etc. as possible
Dispose of materials properly – whether
flammable materials or trash
Keep flammable material away from heat sources
like machinery, electricity and lights.
Safety comes first.
Alertness to our environment is the greatest protection we have.
Dr. Isabel Perry is
an internationally-known safety expert, motivational speaker, author, and
safety educator. Based in
, she can be reached at 407-291-1209 or via e-mail at