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Rules for Fighting Fires
For this reason, when a fire is discovered...
1. Assist any person in immediate danger to safety, if it can be accomplished without risk to yourself.
2. Call 911 or activate the building fire alarm. The fire alarm will notify the fire department and other building occupants and shut off the air handling system to prevent the spread of smoke.
If the fire is small (and only after having done these 2 things), you may attempt to use an extinguisher to put it out.
However before deciding to fight the fire, keep these things in mind:
1. Know what is burning. If you don’t know what’s burning, you won’t know what kind of extinguisher to use.
2. Even if you have an ABC fire extinguisher, there may be something in the fire that is going to explode or produce toxic fumes.
Chances are you will know what’s burning, or at least have a pretty good idea, but if you don’t, let the fire department handle it.
3. Is the fire spreading rapidly beyond the point where it started? The time to use an extinguisher is at the beginning stages of the fire.
4. If the fire is already spreading quickly, it is best to simply evacuate the building.
As you evacuate a building, close doors and windows behind you as you leave. This will help to slow the spread of smoke and fire.
Do not fight the fire if:
• You don’t have adequate or appropriate equipment. If you don't have the correct type or large enough extinguisher, it is best not to try fighting the fire.
• You might inhale toxic smoke. When synthetic materials such as the nylon in carpeting or foam padding in a sofa burn, they can produce hydrogen cyanide, acrolein, and ammonia in addition to carbon monoxide. These gases can be fatal in very small amounts.
• Your instincts tell you not to. If you are uncomfortable with the situation for any reason, just let the fire department do their job.
The final rule is to always position yourself with an exit or means of escape at your back before you attempt to use an extinguisher to put out a fire.
In case the extinguisher malfunctions, or something unexpected happens, you need to be able to get out quickly. You don't want to become trapped.