Quick Fire Safety Guide

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OSHA requires that if the employer provides fire extinguishers for employees to use, the employees must be trained to properly use them. As a quick guide to being prepared, you should know the following.

TYPES OF FIRES AND EXTINGUISHERS a_flame4.gif (6156 bytes)

A portable fire extinguisher is a "first aid" device and is very effective when used while the fire is small. The use of fire extinguisher that matches the class of fire, by a person who is well trained, can save both lives and property. Portable fire extinguishers must be installed in workplaces regardless of other firefighting measures. The successful performance of a fire extinguisher in a fire situation largely depends on its proper selection, inspection, maintenance, and distribution.

There are four different types of fires:

bulletType A - ordinary combustibles such as wood, cloth, paper, rubber and many plastics
bulletType B - flammable liquids, such as gasoline, oil, grease, tar, oil-based paint, lacquer, and flammable gas
bulletType C - energized electrical equipment, including wiring, fuse boxes, circuit breakers, machinery and appliances
bulletType D - combustible metals such as magnesium and potassium (uncommon)

Most of the fire extinguishers on NMSU are classified as ABC which can be used on the three common types of fires.  Note that most extinguishers are limited and most small extinguishers will discharge their contents within 8-15 seconds.   For more information on the fire extinguishers read the answers to frequency asked questions on fire safety.  For information on how to use a fire extinguisher please read the following and see the safety class descriptions for hands-on fire extinguisher training

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All Employees Should Know

bulletwhere the fire alarm boxes are in your area.  They should be well marked and easy to access. 
bulletwhere the exit routes are in your area.  The lighted exits signs will help guide you in heavy smoke or if the lights are out, but you should know the layout of the area.  
bulletwhere the extinguishers are located.  The extinguishers must be mounted in a designated location, well marked and easy to access. 
bulletthe procedures to follow in the event of a fire.  What steps to follow, where to go and how to use a fire extinguisher if needed. 

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Procedures for Fire Emergency

Immediately pull the handle on the nearest fire box and/or call Campus Police at 911.

If the fire is small, heavy smoke is NOT present and you have an exit available to you for evacuation purposes, you can use the nearest appropriate extinguisher following the P-A-S-S procedure.  Otherwise leave the area by the nearest exit. 

Do not use an elevator, use the stairs to change floors.   If you are disabled and not able to exit the building, go to the nearest safe area and wait for rescue.  

If the fire is large or the area is filled with heavy smoke (just as deadly as the fire), pull the handle on the nearest fire box, evacuate the building and call 911 from safe area.     

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Fire Extinguisher Use

Remember the 'P-A-S-S' word

Although extinguishers can vary in size, color and type of extinguishing agent, all devices operate basically the same way. If the fire is small and heavy smoke is NOT present and you have an exit available to you for evacuation purposes, grab the nearest appropriate extinguisher and operate following the P-A-S-S procedure:

fire_pass_ani.gif (11583 bytes)P - Pull the pin located in the extinguisher's handle.

A - Aim the nozzle, horn or hose at the base of the fire.

S - Squeeze or press the handle.

S - Sweep from side to side at the base of the fire until it is out.

If you have a fire extinguisher in your work area, your employer is required to provide training on its use.  Hands-on-training is available via the NMSU Fire Section (see the safety class descriptions for hands-on fire extinguisher training).   

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Used Fire Extinguisher??

Used extinguishers must be immediately reported to Facility Services at 646-7114 for recharge.

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Remember PASS

bulletPull the pin
bulletAim the discharge toward the base of the flames. Do not aim the fire extinguisher directly onto the source, as it may spread the flames. Begin discharging 8-10 feet away from the fire source.
bulletSqueeze the handle

Sweep from side to side

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Next component of Fire Safety Program, Frequently asked fire safety questions, or return to the program table of contents for a different topic.    

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Contact Information 
 Environmental Health& Safety: MSC-3578, P.O. Box 30001, Academic Research Bldg. C, Rm. 109
    Street delivery address: NMSU, 1620 Standley Dr., Academic Research Bldg. C, Las Cruces, NM 88003
    Training Office: Academic Research Unit C, rm110 (see map ), 
    Telephone: 575-646-3327; FAX: 575-646-7898. Website - http://www.nmsu.edu/safety
    Send email to David Shearer, EH&S (click here) with questions or comments about this web site. 
    This page was last updated on 09/21/2014