For individuals interested in receiving professional instruction in fire suppression safety, the FEMA classroom-based Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training course, guides you step-by-step through an instructional process of procedures and guidelines for safely suppressing fires, including the proper and effective use of fire extinguishers.
In the training you are guided through eight (8) fire safety tips when it comes to suppressing a fire. These rules and guidelines are in place to help keep you and others safe when extinguishing a fire in a home, at the workplace or in the community. If you would like to learn more about the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program, you can read our other articles titled, “Overview of the Community Emergency Response Team Program- CERT” and “The Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT)”
The Eight (8) Fire Suppression Safety Rules Are:
1- Use Personal Protection Equipment
2- Don’t Try to Fight a Fire Alone
3- Check Before Entering
4- Have a Predetermined Exit Plan
5- Maintain a Safe Distance When Extinguishing a Fire
6- Suppress Small Fires, NOT Large Ones
7- Use the Correct Equipment Properly
8-Preform a Fire Overhaul
Fire Safety Rule 1 – Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Protect Yourself: When engaged in the work of fire suppression, safety personnel are often in situations of potential hazards which require specific equipment for protection. Basic PPE equipment for disaster preparedness includes:
· Sturdy boots or shoes – to provide support to ankles and penetration protection from sharp or pointed objects.
· Gloves – to enhance your grip on items while protecting hands and fingers from blister causing friction and other skin injuries.
· Helmet – offering the peace of mind of protection from falling or flying objects to this vital area of the body.
· Dust mask – to filter dust or smoke particles from entering the lungs.
· Goggles – to protect your sight while allowing free movement and use of both hands.
Fire Safety Rule 2 – Don’t Try to Fight a Fire Alone: In any disaster or emergency, having others upon which you can depend to support your efforts and offer protection is very important to reduce or eliminate personal safety risk.
· Work in a buddy system where a partner, engaged in checking for developing potential dangers, covers your back to protect your safety.
· Have another layer of protection with a backup team. These “other” members of the team provide collateral support to your fire fighting efforts and a another layer of safety protection should it be needed.
Fire Safety Rule 3 – Check Before Entering a Room: Performing a scene assessment to determine if entering an emergency or disaster setting is safe involves a nine-step process. During the assessment, observations are made, data and facts are collected, and an analysis is made as to the current safety, and potential future safety as the process of operations continue. Those nine steps are in many of the CERT operations and all are covered in the CERT training. Those specific to assessing for precautions of entering an area where of potential fire include:
· Check the temperature of closed doors using the back of your hand and beginning at the base of the door and working upward. Do not touch the door handle until after having determined safely to do so with the temperature check.
· If the door is hot suspect a fire in that room and Do Not Open the Door. Doing so could fuel the fire with additional oxygen and trapped fuel vapors could ignite.
· Do not enter smoke filled areas. Fighting fires of this type requires professional breathing and other protection equipment not a part of CERT training.
Fire Safety Rule 4 – Plan Your Exit: Always ensure that you have at least two exit routes from the fire area, and an escape plan applicable to both the first and secondary exit routes. Always keep an understanding that fire can spread rapidly and plan accordingly. If escaping the area, help detain or delay the spread of the fire by closing doors behind you as you exit.
Fire Safety Rule 5 – Maintain a Safe Distance and Appropriate Position in Relation to the Fire: Use of a fire extinguisher requires application of the extinguishing agent at an appropriation distance for both effectiveness and personal safety. Keep these safety points in mind to ensure safety.
· Position yourself at the outer perimeter of range for safe and effective fire extinguisher application. This requires that you know the distance the agent is effectively sprayed from the extinguisher and stay at the perimeter which should be at the distance where you cannot directly feel the heat of the fire before application, and yet the extinguisher spray reaches the fire.
· As the size of the fire diminishes, move up on the fire to ensure the extinguishing agent spray still reaches the base of the fire area.
· Because smoke rises, stay low to the ground for better access to fresh air to breathe. If smoke fills the room, you should seek to confine the fire as best possible and leave the building for your own protection.
Fire Safety Rule 6 – Suppress Only Small Fires: A “small” fire can be characterized as one that is about the size of a wastepaper canister. Another classification of a “small” fire would be one that can effectively and completely be distinguished by a single fire extinguisher, specifically the one you have on hand to fight the fire. You may also be interested in our other article titled, “Understanding Portable Fire Extinguishers- Use and Limitations“.
Fire Safety Rule 7 – Use the Proper Equipment in the Correct Way: This requires an understanding of what Class Fire an extinguisher is designed to effectively and safely extinguish and the amount of extinguishing agent contained in the fire extinguisher canister. It also requires that the person that is probably the one to extinguisher a particular fire (specific room) be able to handle the size and weight of the extinguisher. Every bit important is that this person be properly trained in the use of the fire extinguisher using the acronym PASS. PASS stand for:
· P = Pull the pin out of the fire extinguisher and twist to break the seal. The pin is located in the handle of the extinguisher.
· A = Aim the hose at the base of the fire. It is recommended that a quick test of the correct working of the device be performed.
· S = Squeeze the trigger
· S = Sweep from side to side keeping the extinguisher in the upright position to ensure access to the full canister of agent.
Fire Safety Rule 8 – Overhaul the Fire: Overhauling a fire is defined as a process of locating any potential sources of fire re-ignition and making sure that the fire is completely put out before moving on to another task.