3 Critical Fire Safety Tips for Using Dry Fire Extinguishers

Like any safety equipment, fire extinguishers require operator care and skill. Although fires can be stressful, it's still critical to observe proper safety precautions and procedures while extinguishing them. In the case of fire extinguishers, anyone on-site needs to know how these devices work and when and where it's appropriate to use them.

Dry fire extinguishers are a highly effective tool against certain types of fires. If your facility uses these devices for fire safety, there are three critical facts you and any personnel on site must know about their care and operation.

1. Maintenance Matters

Fire extinguishers are simple devices but require periodic inspection, maintenance, and testing. Dry fire extinguishers are among the longest-lasting class of extinguishers, but they will not last forever. It's crucial to keep note of the manufacturing, purchase, and maintenance dates of any extinguishers in your facility. You should generally replace fire extinguishers that are more than a decade old.

It's important to check and maintain your facility's fire extinguishers. In addition to confirming that they aren't too old, an employee should examine them for other signs of damage or wear. Always discard or professionally service any fire extinguisher in questionable condition. It's always better to err on the side of caution when dealing with fire safety equipment.

2. Fire Safety Training is Critical

While fire extinguishers may seem like a point-and-shoot solution to fires, their usage has many nuances. In particular, it's critical for anyone who may need to use an extinguisher to understand fire types. Fires fall broadly into class A (solid combustibles), B (flammable liquids), C (electrical), and D (combustible metals).

Most dry chemical fire extinguishers can fight class A, B, and C fires, although some may only have ratings for class B and C. These restrictions should be printed on the side of the extinguisher, and anyone using it should understand what they mean. Using a fire extinguisher on a fire it's not rated for will be ineffective at best and hazardous at worst.

3. Extinguishers Aren't a Panacea

While dry chemical extinguishers are highly effective when used properly, they contain only a limited amount of powder and are unsuitable for fighting large fires. Likewise, safety is always more important than fighting a fire. Always ensure personnel can leave an area safely before attempting to put the fire out, and do not attempt to extinguish a rapidly spreading or very large fire.

When well-maintained and operated correctly, dry chemical fire extinguishers can help prevent small fires from becoming much larger problems. However, it's crucial to understand their limitations as well as their advantages so that you can utilize them in a way that minimizes risk.