Fire is the most common Hazard around us and can cause massive damage to life and property in a matter of few minutes. Every year numerous lives are lost to fire related incidents.
How does a fire start?
For a fire to start it requires three elements-
These elements can be explained with the help of a Fire Triangle.
A fire cannot start or sustain if any of the above 3 elements are missing. Firemen while fighting fires try and remove one of the elements.
- Fire can spread quickly and has the potential to engulf entire structures.
- In many cases of fire, it is found that people die due to inhalation of smoke rather than burns.
- Fire causes a rapid increase in temperature and can cause serious burns and inhaling superheated air can cause burns in the windpipe which can also cause death.
The video above is an experiment depicting how fast a fire can spread. If we see carefully there is a timer at the top left corner. If we are equipped with a good fire extinguisher we may be able to douse the fire in the initial 40 seconds.
After 40 seconds the fire has started to spread and it is difficult for a single person to use a fire extinguisher to douse the fire. We may also observe thick black smoke moving towards the roof and collecting over there. The oxygen levels in that space have dropped and in case someone is standing and trying to breathe they feel uneasy and may not be able to breathe at all.
Hence in case of fire, we should always drop low and should move towards the exit immediately while covering our nose and mouth to prevent breathing in hot poisonous smoke.
Do’s and Don’ts for Fire Safety
- On detection of a fire call fire brigade immediately.
- Turn the gas valve off when not using gas for cooking.
- Ensure your house is fireproof by installing smoke alarms and fire extinguishers and test them at regular intervals.
- Discuss the evacuation plan with your family at home and with your workspace colleagues to be better prepared for the fire situation.
- Teach children about fire safety and not to play with matchsticks, lighters, and firecrackers.
- At your business establishment conduct a mock drill in presence of a supervisor on regular interval for timely evacuation to reduce fatalities.
- Insure your home and belongings to minimise the fire risk.
- Keep all the exit and entry points free from any obstruction for safe and free evacuation.
- Place emergency phone numbers on phone and fridge where it is accessible to everyone and can be used in case of distress. (Police-100, Fire Brigade-101, Ambulance-102, Disaster Helpline 1077)
- Ensure the pressure in fire extinguisher is proper and they are serviced on regular intervals.
- In case of a fire keep low and close to the ground.
- In case your cloths are on fire remember STOP, DROP and ROLL till the fire is out.
- In case of an injury or breathlessness visit the nearest hospital for first aid or call an ambulance on 102.
- Apply cold water on a burn and see a doctor immediately. Don’t apply toothpaste or butter over a burn.
- Use only ISI marked electrical switches and wiring for safety of the people and install circuit breakers.
- Don’t silence a fire alarm until advised to and call fire brigade on 101.
- Don’t use lift in case of fire as electric supply is cut which will cause the lift to stop.
- Don’t hide in case of a fire, move outside in open for safety.
- Don’t use water on fire caused by fuel or cooking oil.
- Do not enter a burning building or house for your belongings.
- Close doors in case of fire to stop fire from spreading. DO NOT LOCK THE DOOR.
- In case of fire before opening a door check whether it is hot or not. If it’s hot do not open and find a different exit.
How to operate Fire Extinguisher
There are various types of fire extinguishers in the market. All of them are categorized on the basis of the fires they are able to extinguish.
ALWAYS REMEMBER, NOT ALL TYPES OF FIRE EXTINGUISHER CAN BE USED TO DOUSE A FIRE.
Always check what is burning and accordingly use the appropriate fire extinguisher.
Different categories of fire
To operate a fire extinguisher we need to follow the P.A.S.S system.
P: Pull the pin on the trigger
A: Aim the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire.
S: Squeeze the trigger to release the material
S: swipe from side to side to cover the entire burning surface evenly to extinguish the fire.
Most of the fire extinguishers have a Pressure Gauge which tells us the condition of fire extinguisher. If the needle in the gauge is at green it means the extinguisher can be used to douse a fire, if it is in red it need to be refilled or replaced immediately.