Fire Prevention and Safety
USFA recommends that only those trained in the proper use and maintenance of fire extinguishers consider using them when appropriate. The use of a fire extinguisher in the hands of a trained adult can be a life and property saving tool. However, a majority of adults have not had fire extinguisher training and may not know how and when to use them. Fire extinguisher use requires a sound decision making process and training on their proper use and maintenance.
What type of fire extinguisher is needed?
Different types of fires require different types of extinguishers. For example, a grease fire and an electrical fire require the use of different extinguishing agents to be effective and safely put the fire out. Basically, there are five different types of extinguishing agents. Most fire extinguishers display symbols to show the kind of fire on which they are to be used.
- Class A extinguishers put out fires in ordinary combustible materials such as cloth, wood, rubber, paper, and many plastics.
- Class B extinguishers are used on fires involving flammable liquids, such as grease, gasoline, oil, and oil-based paints.
- Class C extinguishers are suitable for use on fires involving appliances, tools, or other equipment that is electrically energized or plugged in.
- Class D extinguishers are designed for use on flammable metals and are often specific for the type of metal in question. These are typically found only in factories working with these metals.
- Class K fire extinguishers are intended for use on fires that involve vegetable oils, animal oils, or fats in cooking appliances. These extinguishers are generally found in commercial kitchens, such as those found in restaurants, cafeterias, and caterers. Class K extinguishers are now finding their way into the residential market for use in kitchens.
There are also multi-purpose fire extinguishers - such as those labeled "B-C" or "A-B-C" - that can be used on two or more of the above type fires.
Is the fire at a point where it might still be controlled by a fire extinguisher?
Portable fire extinguishers are valuable for immediate use on small fires. They contain a limited amount of extinguishing material and need to be properly used so that this material is not wasted. For example, when a pan initially catches fire, it may be safe to turn off the burner, place a lid on the pan, and use an extinguisher. By the time the fire has spread, however, these actions will not be adequate. Only trained firefighters can safely extinguish such fires.
Use a fire extinguisher only if:
- You have alerted other occupants and someone has called the fire department
- The fire is small and contained to a single object, such as a wastebasket
- You are safe from the toxic smoke produced by the fire
- You have a means of escape identified and the fire is not between you and the escape route
- Your instincts tell you that it is safe to use an extinguisher.
If all of these conditions are not present, you should NOT try to use a fire extinguisher. Alert other occupants, leave the building following your home escape plan, go to the agreed upon meeting place, and call the fire department from a cell phone or a neighbor's home.
Am I physically capable of using the extinguisher?
Some people have physical limitations that might diminish or eliminate their ability to properly use a fire extinguisher. People with disabilities, older adults, or children may find that an extinguisher is too heavy to handle or it may be too difficult for them to exert the necessary pressure to operate the extinguisher.
Fire extinguishers need to be regularly checked to ensure that:
- The extinguisher is not blocked by furniture, doorways, or any thing that might limit access in an emergency.
- The pressure is at the recommended level. Some extinguishers have gauges that indicate when the pressure is too high or too low.
- All parts are operable and not damaged or restricted in any way. Make sure hoses and nozzles are free of insects or debris. There should not be any signs of damage or abuse, such as dents or rust, on the extinguisher.
- The outside of the extinguisher is clean. Remove any oil or grease that might accumulate on the exterior.
- Shake dry chemical extinguishers once a month to prevent the powder from settling or packing. Check the manufacturer's recommendations.
- Pressure test the extinguisher (a process called hydrostatic testing) after a number of years to ensure that the cylinder is safe to use. Find out from the owner's manual, the label, or the manufacturer when an extinguisher may need this type of testing.
- Immediately replace the extinguisher if it needs recharging or is damaged in any way.
Sound Decision Making. Training. Maintenance.
All are required to safely control a fire with an extinguisher. For this reason, USFA recommends that only those trained in the proper use and maintenance of fire extinguishers consider using them when appropriate. Contact your local fire department for information on training in your area.
Tips for Safe Debris Burning
- Comply with Local Regulations
Contact your local fire department in advance to confirm that burning is allowed and to find out whether a permit is required to burn debris.
- Check the Weather Forecast
Weather fluctuations, such as sudden gusts of wind, could make debris burning spark a wildfire. Call your local fire department the day you plan to burn debris to finalize that the weather is safe enough to burn.
- Choose a Safe Burning Site
A safe site will be far away from power lines, overhanging limbs, buildings, automobiles, and equipment. It will have vertical clearance at least three times the height of the pile, as heat from the fire extends far past the actual flames that you see. It will have horizontal clearance twice the height of the debris pile.
- Prepare the Site Correctly
The ground around the burn site should be surrounded by gravel or mineral soil (dirt) for at least ten feet in all directions. Keep the surrounding area watered down during the burn.
- If using a Burn Barrel, Make Sure it is Equipped with the Proper Features
Burn Barrels must be made of all-metal construction in good condition (no rust on the sides or bottom) and properly ventilated with three evenly-spaced, three-inch square vents spaced evenly around the rim near ground level. Each vent must be backed by a metal screen. A Burn Barrel must have a metal top screen with mesh size of one-fourth inch or finer to keep sparks from escaping and potentially sparking a wildfire. When burning, layer the different types of debris and stir often. Be careful of sparks escaping the barrel when you stir it.
- Remain With your Fire
Stay with your fire until it is completely out. To ensure the fire has been completely extinguished, drown the fire with water, turn over the ashes with a shovel and drown it again. Repeat several times. Check the burn area regularly over the next several days and up to several weeks following the burn, especially if the weather is warm, dry, and windy.
- Keep it Legal
It is illegal to burn plastic, tires, and most other waste products not from a tree or shrub.
Do you use a trash barrel to burn?
Don't let this happen to you!
They wanted to burn some paper and ender up burning 1 acre of grass, the corner of their shed and several hundred square feet of woodland.
- Keep a lid or grating on your burn barrel
- Don't burn when windy
- Keep area around your barrel clear of combustible materials
- Never burn when it is windy!
- Keep the size of your fire small!
- Stay with your fire and have the tools ready to control it should it spread!
- Notify the Fire Dispatch Center ( 240-313-2910 ) that you will be burning!
You are responsible for any damages and costs if your fire get out of control. This includes damage to the forest.
Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive cancer that develops in the thin layer of tissue surrounding the lungs known as the pleura. The disease is caused primarily by the inhalation of microscopic asbestos fibers. Once these fibers are inhaled, they can become lodged in the lining around the lungs. The fibers accumulate in the body, and cause cellular and genetic damage that can ultimately lead to cancer.
It's the most common of the four types of mesothelioma, accounting for about 75 percent of all cases diagnosed annually in the U.S. More than 2,000 people are diagnosed with this pleural cancer each year.
A majority of these cases are traced to occupational exposure to asbestos, which put factory workers, shipyard workers, mechanics and construction workers at the highest risk. Keep in mind, it can take anywhere from 10 to 50 years after exposure for the cancer to develop.
If diagnosed with Pleural Mesothelioma, you can call the Pleural Mesothelioma Center at 855-688-9653.