Fire Extinguishers…We have them – now what?

FE Training

In any workplace, safety should always be a top priority. One of the critical aspects of ensuring safety in the event of a fire is proper fire extinguisher training for employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 1910.157 standard lays down guidelines for the selection, distribution, training, and use of portable fire extinguishers in the workplace. Compliance with these regulations is not just a legal obligation but also crucial for protecting employees and mitigating the risks associated with fires. Employees are often the first line of defense when responding to and preventing workplace fires.

Importance of Fire Extinguisher Training

Fire extinguisher training equips employees with the knowledge and skills necessary to respond swiftly and effectively to a fire incident. If a fire breaks out in the workplace, employees have two options: fight or flight. What employees don’t have, however, is an obligation to do one action or the other. Some companies try to implement policies stating that employees are prohibited from operating fire protection equipment to fight an incipient-stage fire. But it’s not lawful to prevent a person from protecting themselves.  The decision to fight or flight is entirely up to the employee.  Proper employee fire extinguisher training helps people take the right action faster.

Here’s why it’s crucial:

  1. Rapid Response: In the event of a fire outbreak, every second counts. Trained employees can act quickly to contain small fires before they escalate, potentially saving lives and minimizing property damage.
  2. Safety Awareness: Training increases awareness about fire hazards and the appropriate response procedures. Employees learn to recognize different fire types and the required extinguishing agents.
  3. Confidence: Hands-on training builds confidence among employees, enabling them to remain calm and take decisive action during a fire emergency.
  4. Reduced Risks: Properly trained individuals are less likely to panic or misuse fire extinguishers, reducing the risk of injuries and property damage.

Hands-On Training with Real or Simulated Equipment

Hands-on training is a cornerstone of effective fire extinguisher training programs. Providing employees with the opportunity to practice using real or simulated fire extinguishers enhances their understanding and retention of crucial skills. Here’s how hands-on training can be incorporated:

  1. Simulated Fire Scenarios: Conduct simulated fire scenarios using controlled environments and non-toxic smoke to mimic real-life situations. This allows employees to experience the pressure and urgency of firefighting in a safe setting.
  2. Live Fire Extinguisher Drills: Arrange supervised live fire extinguisher drills where employees can use actual extinguishers to put out controlled fires. This practical experience reinforces proper techniques and familiarizes them with the feel and operation of fire extinguishing equipment.
  3. Feedback and Evaluation: Provide constructive feedback and evaluation during and after training sessions to help employees improve their skills. Encourage questions and discussions to address any concerns or misconceptions.

All scenarios will reinforce and demonstrate what most employees know as the P.A.S.S. technique:

    PULL... Pull the pin and break the tamper seal.

    AIM... Aim low, pointing the extinguisher nozzle at the base of the fire.

    SQUEEZE... Squeeze the handle to release the extinguishing agent.

    SWEEP... Sweep from side to side at the base of the fire until it appears to be out.

Fire extinguisher training is not just a regulatory requirement; it is an essential component of workplace safety. By ensuring that employees are properly trained to respond to fire emergencies, employers demonstrate their commitment to protecting their workforce and assets. Ultimately, investing in fire extinguisher training is an investment in the safety and well-being of everyone in the workplace.

Ahern can provide multiple training options for your business on a one-time or annual basis.  To discover the correct training program for your facility and employee base please contact us today.

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