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Hand held fire extinguishers
Most fires can be put out quite easily if caught early, however you should make sure that you know what you're doing. Lack of preparation and knowledge can cost valuable time when fires start and allow the situation to get out of hand. Make sure that you know where the fire extinguishers in your workplace are situated, what extinguisher to use for which fire, and how to operate a fire extinguisher.
The type of fire or content of the fire will effect whether or not it can be put out with a fire extinguisher, and what type of extinguisher you will need.
Most hand held/portable extinguishers contain a dry chemical - this can extinguish most common fires that could start in your work place or day to day environment. This type of fire extinguisher is designed to put out class A, B and C fires.
Class A: contains materials like and similar to wood, plastic, paper, or common combustibles.
Class B: contains oil, grease or gasoline (often found in garages or kitchens). While a dry fire extinguisher will extinguish such fires they are much more difficult to put out as well as more dangerous. Approach with care.
Class C: contains burning electrical motors or transformers. This type of fire can be changed to class A or B if the power is cut or shorts out as it is an electrical fire.
One needs to learn to recognise whether the fire can be put out with an extinguisher or whether one you should wait for professional services to arrive. If the workplace fire is too large for an extinguisher to put out you will need to evacuate everyone from the area/building as soon as possible.
How to put it out with a hand held extinguisher.
When using a fire extinguisher remember the acronym "PASS" - this will help you remember how to use the extinguisher.
Pull out the pin.
Aim at the object that is burning, not the flames. The purpose of the extinguisher chemical is to create a barrier between what is fueling the fire and the oxygen that it needs to breathe.
Squeeze the handle to release the dry chemical/agent.
Sweep the nozzle from side to side to ensure that you cover the entire area. Make suyre that you keep a safe distance from the fire.