Fire Safety How To's
HOW TO PREVENT FIRES
Class A — Ordinary combustibles:
- Keep storage and working areas free of trash.
- Place oily rags in covered containers.
Class B — Flammable liquids or gases:
refuel gasoline-powered equipment in a confined space, especially in
the presence of an open flame such as a furnace or water heater.
- Don't refuel gasoline-powered equipment while it's hot.
flammable liquids stored in tightly closed, self-closing, spill-proof
containers. Pour from storage drums only what you'll need.
- Store flammable liquids away from spark-producing sources.
- Use flammable liquids only in well-ventilated areas.
Class C — Electrical equipment:
- Look for old wiring, worn insulation and broken electrical fittings. Report any hazardous condition to your supervisor.
motors from overheating by keeping them clean and in good working
order. A spark from a rough-running motor can ignite the oil and dust in
- Utility lights should always have some type of wire guard over them.
- Heat from an uncovered light bulb can easily ignite ordinary combustibles.
- Don't misuse fuses. Never install a fuse rated higher than specified for the circuit.
- Investigate any appliance or electrical equipment that smells strange.
- Unusual odors can be the first sign of fire.
- Don't overload wall outlets. Two outlets should have no more than two plugs.
Class D — Flammable metals:
metals such as magnesium and titanium generally take a very hot heat
source to ignite; however, once ignited are difficult to extinguish as
the burning reaction produces sufficient oxygen to support combustion,
even under water.
some cases, covering the burning metal with sand can help contain the
heat and sparks from the reaction. Class D extinguishing agents are
available (generally as a dry powder in a bucket or box) which can be
quite effective, but these agents are rare on the campus.
you are planning a research project using a large amount of flammable
metals you should consider purchasing a five or ten pound container of
Class-D extinguishing agent as a precaution.
metals such as potassium and sodium react violently (even explosively)
with water and some other chemicals, and must be handled with care.
Generally these metals are stored in sealed containers in a non-reactive
liquid to prevent decay (surface oxidation) from contact with moisture
in the air.
phosphorus is air-reactive and will burn/explode on contact with room
air. It must be kept in a sealed container with a non-reactive solution
to prevent contact with air.
of these metals are not uncommon in labs on University campus, but are
generally only found in small quantities and accidental fires/reactions
can be controlled or avoided completely through knowledge of the
properties of the metals and using good judgement and common sense.
HOW TO EXTINGUISH SMALL FIRES
- Class A -
Extinguish ordinary combustibles by cooling the material below its
ignition temperature and soaking the fibers to prevent re-ignition.
pressurized water, foam or multi-purpose(ABC-rated) dry chemical
extinguishers. DO NOT USE carbon dioxide or ordinary (BC-rated) dry
chemical extinguishers on Class A fires.
- Class B -
Extinguish flammable liquids, greases or gases by removing the oxygen,
preventing the vapors from reaching the ignition source or inhibiting
the chemical chain reaction.
carbon dioxide, ordinary (BC-rated) dry chemical, multi-purpose dry
chemical, and halon extinguishers may be used to fight Class B
- Class C -
Extinguish energized electrical equipment by using an extinguishing
agent that is not capable of conducting electrical currents.
dioxide, ordinary (BC-rated) dry chemical, multi-purpose dry chemical
and halon* fire extinguishers may be used to fight Class C fires. DO NOT
USE water extinguishers on energized electrical equipment.
* Even though halon is widely used, EPA legislation is phasing it out of use in favor of agents less harmful to the environment.
- Class D -
Extinguish combustible metals such as magnesium, titanium, potassium
and sodium with dry powder extinguishing agents specially designated for
the material involved.
- In most cases, they absorb the heat from the material, cooling it below its ignition temperature.
(ABC-rated) chemical extinguishers leave a residue that can harm
sensitive equipment, such as computers and other electronic equipment.
Because of this, carbon dioxide or halon extinguishers are preferred in
these instances because they leave very little residue.
dry powder residue is mildly corrosive to many metals. For example,
residue left over from the use of an ABC dry powder extinguisher in the
same room with a piano can seriously corrode piano wires.
- Carbon dioxide or halon extinguishers are provided for most labs and computer areas on campus.
WHEN NOT TO FIGHT A FIRE
Never fight a fire:
- If the fire is spreading beyond the spot where it started
- If you can't fight the fire with your back to an escape exit
- If the fire can block your only escape
- If you don't have adequate fire-fighting equipment
In any of these situations, DON'T FIGHT THE FIRE YOURSELF. CALL FOR HELP.
- Should your path of escape be threatened
- Should the extinguisher run out of agent
- Should the extinguisher prove to be ineffective
- Should you no longer be able to safely fight the fire
...THEN LEAVE THE AREA IMMEDIATELY!