When fire breaks out in a workplace, a few seconds can mean the difference between limited damage and complete devastation. Having employees trained to competently use fire extinguishers enables rapid suppression before flames escalate out of control. There are numerous premier advantages to thorough fire extinguisher education that go beyond just teaching deployment basics. Read on to understand the many ways proper training prepares and empowers your team.
Enables Early Fire Suppression to Minimize Losses
The core benefit of equipping staff with fire extinguisher proficiency is it allows early fire intervention right at ignition. They can halt the fire before it grows into a raging inferno. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the average commercial building fire causes $110,000 in damages.
Early suppression vastly reduces direct property loss from flames as well as secondary damage from smoke and water. It also prevents inventory and equipment destruction, business disruptions from closure, and loss of customer goodwill after destructive fires. With quick-acting employees, many fires can be contained to just hundreds of dollars in losses.
Teaches Proper Selection and Use of Extinguisher Types
Quality training provides the knowledge employees need to choose and utilize the appropriate extinguishers for different fire classes. It reviews the capabilities of various extinguisher types:
- Class A extinguishers containing water or foam to extinguish common combustibles like wood, paper, cloth, trash, or plastics through heat absorption and smothering fuel sources
- Class B models using CO2 or dry chemical agents to zap oxygen supply from ignited flammable liquids like gasoline, oil, and paint without conducting electricity
- Class C extinguishers using non-conductive CO2 or dry chemical agents to extinguish energized electrical fires to avoid electrocution
- Class D models containing dry powder agents specifically for extinguishing reactive combustible metal fires
With hands-on practice discharging different extinguisher types at simulated classroom fires, employees gain confidence in selecting and wielding the right tool for various blaze scenarios. This prevents wasting time trying to fight electrical fires with water extinguishers or combustible metal fires with conventional agents. Quickly matching the right extinguisher to the unique fire challenge improves outcomes.
Instils Proper Activation and Discharge Techniques
Simply having extinguishers stocked around facilities does little good if employees don’t know how to use them properly when urgently needed. Quality training instils recommended operation techniques through repetitive hands-on practice:
- Quickly pulling the pin with firm force to break the tamper seal
- Aiming the nozzle toward the base of the fire
- Squeezing the handles together to discharge the pressurized agent
- Applying even pressure on the lever to control the discharge stream
- Starting spraying from an optimal 6-10 feet distance then gradually approaching closer
- Moving the nozzle side to side methodically to cover the entire fire area
With coaching and feedback, employees develop the muscle memory needed to deploy extinguishers reflexively even when adrenaline is pumping during an actual emergency. This instinctive skill boosts confidence in their ability to take decisive action when it matters most.
Stresses Assessing Hazards Before Attempting Suppression
An equally important aspect of quality training is teaching hazard assessment before fire suppression. Employees learn critical situational evaluation including:
- Judging the fire’s size, rate of spread, smoke output, and heat intensity
- Identifying the type of fuel involved and potential toxicity of emissions
- Checking for adequate evacuation routes should suppression efforts fail
- Assessing wind direction to avoid smoke inhalation
- Determining presence of flammable liquids, pressurized containers, or explosive materials
- Evaluating electrical and structural hazards if electronics or supports are involved
- Confirming the extinguisher is sized appropriately for the specific type of fire
This risk analysis helps staff determine if it is too dangerous to attempt fighting the fire versus evacuating immediately. Training emphasizes that staying safe is the top priority, not protecting property.
Explains When to Evacuate Versus Attempt Suppression
Part of hazard evaluation is knowing when to abandon suppression efforts and evacuate instead. Employees learn warning signs like:
- The fire is spreading rapidly beyond the extinguisher’s capacity
- Smoke output is escalating and becoming difficult to breathe
- Electrical crackling or explosions signal additional hazards
- The extinguisher is getting low on agent and losing effectiveness
- The fire re-ignites after seeming to be extinguished
- Structural integrity or exit routes are threatened as fire grows
- Toxic fumes are triggering dizziness or disorientation
With criteria for strategic withdrawal, employees avoid delayed evacuation and life-threatening entrapment situations. They maintain safety while still attempting early intervention within reason.
Builds Teamwork and Communication for Coordinated Response
Fighting fires requires cooperation. Training together fosters buddy teams who know how to work together for suppression:
- Strategizing the best angles of attack
- Communicating about wind direction and fire changes
- Alternating discharge roles so one employee can take over when an extinguisher empty
- Monitoring each other for safety, readiness to withdraw if needed
- Utilizing radios/phones to update responding crews en route
By cultivating team camaraderie and solutions-focused communication, employees are primed to mount an organized response under crisis. This coordination gets extinguishers deployed rapidly from all directions at once for fastest fire knockdown.
Provides Ongoing Opportunities for Skills Refinement
Initial training should not be the end of learning. Regular practice sessions allow employees to refine proficiency. annual refresher courses address new hazards and revised safety protocols. Fire drills increase readiness to implement emergency response plans. Training also accommodates new hires who need to develop the same skills as veteran employees.
Ongoing education ensures hard-won extinguisher competencies do not deteriorate over time. Muscle memory will not fade if skills are kept sharp. When fire strikes, even veteran employees need an airtight gameplan.
Equipping staff with fire extinguisher expertise through regular, hands-on training provides immense protection for any workplace. Employees gain confidence to quickly suppress fires during the crucial minutes when intervention can prevent widespread damages. Investment in comprehensive education pays dividends through reduced losses and workplace downtime. With trained employees, you can rest easier knowing your facilities are protected even when you’re not there.