combustibles or fibrous material, such as wood, paper, cloth,
rubber and some plastics.
or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, paint,
paint thinners and propane.
electrical equipment, such as appliances, switches, panel
boxes and power tools.
combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, potassium
and sodium. These metals burn at high temperatures and give
off sufficient oxygen to support combustion. They may react
violently with water or other chemicals, and must be handled
HOW TO PREVENT FIRES
Class A — Ordinary combustibles:
storage and working areas free of trash Place oily rags
in covered containers.
Class B — Flammable liquids or gases:
Don't refuel gasoline-powered equipment in a confined
space, especially in the presence of an open flame such
as a furnace or water heater.
Don't refuel gasoline-powered equipment while it's hot.
Keep flammable liquids stored in tightly closed, self-closing,
spill-proof containers. Pour from storage drums only what
Store flammable liquids away from spark-producing sources.
Use flammable liquids only in well-ventilated areas.
Class C — Electrical equipment:
Look for old wiring, worn insulation and broken electrical
fittings. Report any hazardous condition to your supervisor.
Prevent motors from overheating by keeping them clean
and in good working order. A spark from a rough-running
motor can ignite the oil and dust in it.
Utility lights should always have some type of wire guard
over them. Heat from an uncovered light bulb can easily
ignite ordinary combustibles.
Don't misuse fuses. Never install a fuse rated higher
than specified for the circuit.
Investigate any appliance or electrical equipment that
smells strange. Unusual odors can be the first sign of
Don't overload wall outlets. Two outlets should have no
more than two plugs.
Class D — Flammable metals:
Flammable metals such as magnesium and titanium generally
take a very hot heat source to ignite; however, once ignited
are difficult to extinguish as the buring reaction produces
sufficient oxygen to support combusion, even under water.
In some cases, covering the burning metal with sand can
help contain the heat and sparks from the reaction. Class
D exinguishing agents are available (generally as a
dry powder in a bucket or box) which can be quite
effective, but these agents are rare on the campus.
If you are planning a research project using a large amount
of flammable metals you should consider purchasing a five
or ten pound container of Class-D extinguishing agent
as a precaution.
Pure metals such as potassium and sodium react violently
(even explosively) with water and some other chemicals,
and must be handled with care. Generally these metals
are stored in sealed containers in a non-reactive liquid
to prevent decay (surface oxidation) from contact
with moisture in the air.
White phosphorus is air-reactive and will burn/explode
on contact with room air. It must be kept in a sealed
container with a non-reactive solution to prevent contact
All of these metals are not uncommon in labs on the OU
campus, but are generally only found in small quantities
and accidental fires/reactions can be controlled or avoided
completely through knowledge of the properties of the
metals and using good judgement and common sense.
NOT TO FIGHT A FIRE
Never fight a fire:
the fire is spreading beyond the spot where it started
you can't fight the fire with your back to an escape
the fire can block your only escape
you don't have adequate fire-fighting equipment
of these situations,
FIGHT THE FIRE YOURSELF.
CALL FOR HELP.
HOW TO EXTINGUISH
Class A - Extinguish ordinary combustibles by
cooling the material below its ignition temperature and
soaking the fibers to prevent re-ignition.
Use pressurized water, foam or multi-purpose(ABC-rated)
dry chemical extinguishers. DO NOT USE carbon dioxide
or ordinary (BC-rated) dry chemical extinguishers
on Class A fires.
Class B - Extinguish flammable liquids, greases
or gases by removing the oxygen, preventing the vapors
from reaching the ignition source or inhibiting the chemical
Foam, carbon dioxide, ordinary (BC-rated) dry chemical,
multi-purpose dry chemical, and halon extinguishers may
be used to fight Class B fires.
Class C - Extinguish energized electrical equipment
by using an extinguishing agent that is not capable of
conducting electrical currents.
Carbon dioxide, ordinary (BC-rated) dry chemical,
multi-purpose dry chemical and halon* fire extinguishers
may be used to fight Class C fires. DO NOT USE water extinguishers
on energized electrical equipment.
* Even though halon is widely used, EPA legislation
is phasing it out of use in favor of agents less harmful
to the environment.
Class D - Extinguish combustible metals such
as magnesium, titanium, potassium and sodium with dry
powder extinguishing agents specially designated for the
In most cases, they absorb the heat from the material,
cooling it below its ignition temperature.
NOTE: Multipurpose (ABC-rated)chemical extinguishers
leave a residue that can harm sensitive equipment, such
as computers and other electronic equipment. Because of
this, carbon dioxide or halon extinguishers are preferred
in these instances because they leave very little residue.
ABC dry powder residue is mildly corrosive to many metals.
For example, residue left over from the use of an ABC
dry powder extinguisher in the same room with a piano
can seriously corrode piano wires.
Carbon dioxide or halon extinguishers are provided for
most labs and computer areas on campus.
HOW TO IDENTIFY THE PROPER FIRE EXTINGUISHER
All ratings are shows on the extinguisher faceplate. Some
extinguishers are marked with multiple ratings such as
AB, BC and ABC. These extinguishers are capable of putting
out more than one class of fire.
Class A and B extinguishers carry a numerical rating that
indicates how large a fire an experienced person can safely
put out with that extinguisher.
Class C extinguishers have only a letter rating to indicate
that the extinguishing agent will not conduct electrical
current. Class C extinguishers must also carry a Class
A or B rating.
Class D extinguishers carry only a letter rating indicating
their effectiveness on certain amounts of specific metals.
TO USE A PORTABLE FIRE EXTINGUISHER
the acronym, "P.A.S.S."—
......Pull the Pin.
......Aim the extinguisher nozzle
at the base of the flames.
......Squeeze trigger while holding
the extinguisher upright.
......Sweep the extinguisher from
side to side, covering the
area of the fire with
the extinguishing agent.
your path of escape be threatened
the extinguisher run out of agent
the extinguisher prove to be ineffective
you no longer be able to safely fight the fire
...THEN LEAVE THE AREA IMMEDIATELY!
HOW TO INSPECT YOUR FIRE EXTINGUISHERS
Know the locations of the fire extinguishers in your work
Make sure the class of the extinguisher is safe to use
on fires likely to occur in the immediate area.
Check the plastic seal holding the pin in the extinguisher
handle. Has the extinguisher been tampered with or used
before? Report any broken/missing seals/pins to the Fire
Safety Unit at 325-1015.
Look at the gauge and feel the weight. Is the extinguisher
full? Does it need to be recharged?
some foam, and dry chemical extinguishers have gauges
indicating the pressure inside the extinguisher. The
pressure needle should be in the "green" area (generally
100-175 lbs., depending on the type of agent).
dioxide) extinguishers are high pressure
cylinders with pressures ranging from 1500 lb to 2150
lb. These extinguishers DO NOT have gauges and must
be weighed by Fire Safety Unit staff to determine
the amount of contents remaining.
sure the pin, nozzle and nameplate are intact.
The APPEARENCE of different types of extinguishers:
Generally, you can tell with a glance which type an extinguisher
is hanging on the wall, or in the cabinet, just by looking
at its shape. Check the labels of the extinguishers in
your area and note the color and shape/size of the extinguisher.
This may help if someone runs in to help you fight a fire
with the WRONG extinguisher (i.e. water on an electrical
fire) - you can STOP them before they are injured
or make matters worse!
ABC-rated multipurpose dry powder extinguishers
are the most common on campus/hotels, particularly in
the corridors of . They are almost always RED in color
and have either a long narrow hose or no hose (just
a short nozzle). These extinguishers are very light
(5-25 lbs total weight) Halon extinguishers look
virtually identical to ABC multipurpose dry chemical extinguishers.
Water extinguishers are generally only found in the dormitories
and are usually SILVER (crome-metal) in color,
have a flat bottom, have a long narrow hose, are quite
large (2-1/2 gallons). Foam extinguishers (rare
on the OU campus, nowadays) look similar and the type
without gauges have a handle inset in the flat bottom
(you turn the extinquisher upside down to start it
and use it)
CO2 (carbon dioxide) extinguishers are
generally red (often yellow around aircraft or on military
sites), have a LARGE "tapered" nozzle (horn),
are VERY HEAVY (15-85 lbs.) -some CO2 extinguishers
for aircraft hangers or special industrial use are so
large as to require roll-around carts to move them. These
are all high-pressure cylinders.
Care should be used not to drop a CO2 cylinder;
if it is damaged it can punch a hole through the nearest
wall(s) and end up on the other side of campus!
(The containers are quite sturdy, but don't abuse them.)
CO2 cylinders do not have a pressure gauge - they must
be weighed to determine the amount of contents.
"WHERE can I find a fire extinguisher ?"
the corridors of hotels and office buildings, and
inside very large rooms.
the fire hose RED backing board cabinets
"If I just use a little, do I have to report the
extinguisher as USED?"
While CO2 and halon extinguishers will generally hold
their pressure after a slight discharge, BC and ABC
rated DRY CHEMICAL extinguishers will usually NOT
hold a charge after partial use. This is true
for all your personal home and vehicle dry
chemical extinguishers, too!
While the gauge may hold steady in the green immediately
after a slight use, check it the next day and you'll
find the gauge on EMPTY! This is because upon use
the dry powder gets inside the seals and allows the
nitrogen carrier to escape over a period of time.
After ANY use a BC or
ABC extinguisher MUST be serviced and recharged. This
is very important for home extinguishers also; YOU
MUST HAVE THE EXTINGUISHER REFILLED AFTER ANY
You can't "test" an
extinguisher and put it back in the cabinet!
If you want to try out an extinguisher and learn how
it feels to use one, contact the Fire Safety Unit
and they'll arrange for you to attend a fire extinguisher
classes where you can actually put out a test fire!
HOW TO USE AN EMERGENCY
A written, up-to-date Emergency Action Plan for your
hotel/office/dorm/workplace is essential in case of
emergency. Make sure you read and understand your
department's/dorm's Emergency Action Plan.
The plan should contain information about evacuation
from the facility, including who is in charge of the
Primary and secondary escape routes should be outlined
for every area of the building. Since stairways are
the primary escape route in multiple story buildings
(elevators should NEVER be used in fire emergencies),
they should not be used for any kind of storage.
Emergency Action Leaders should be assigned specific
duties, such as verifying that all students/faculty/staff
Disabled workers and those with known medical problems
such as heart disease or epilepsy, should EACH be
assigned an Emergency Action Leader to guide them
All workers who might need assistance during a fire
should be identified during planning.
Fire drills should be scheduled to test the Emergency
Action Plan. Let the drill be used to find problems
before a fire happens, then make the necessary changes.
All university housing has prepared Emergency Action
Plans. These are generally posted on the inside of
individual dorm/guest room doors.
If your department does not have an Emergency Action
Plan, contact your department head and get one! If
your department needs assistance in creating an Emergency
Action Plan, contact the Fire Safety Unit (325-1015)
HOW TO EVACUATE A BURNING
last one out of the room should not lock the door,
just close it. Locking the door hinders the fire department's
search and rescue efforts.
to the exit as outlined in the Emergency Action Plan.
NEVER use elevators under any circumstances.
low to avoid smoke and toxic gases. The best air is
close to the floor, so crawl if necessary.
possible, cover your mouth and nose with a damp cloth
to help you breathe.
you work in a building with multiple stories, a stairway
will be your primary escape route. Most enclosed stairwells
in buildings over two stories are "rated" enclosures
and will provide you a safe means of exit; don't panic
descend stairs slowly and carefully.
in the stairwell, proceed down to the first floor.
Never go up.
outside the building, report to a predetermined area
so that a head count can be taken.
WHAT TO DO IF TRAPPED IN A BURNING BUILDING
If you're trying to escape a fire, never open a closed
door without feeling it first. Use the back of your hand
to prevent burning your palm. If the door is hot, try
another exit. If none exists, seal the cracks around the
doors and vents with anything available.
If in a dorm room, use wet towels to seal the space under
the door and prevent the entry of smoke. Cracks around
the door can be sealed with masking tape if necessary.
If trapped, look for a nearby phone and call the fire
department, giving them your exact location.
If breathing is difficult, try to ventilate the room,
but don't wait for an emergency to discover that window
can't be opened.
If on an upper floor and your window is of a type that
CANNOT be opened, DON'T break it out- you'll be raining
glass down on rescuers and people exiting the building.
If you can't contact the fire department by phone, wave
for attention at the window. Don't panic.
WHAT TO DO IF SOMEONE
CATCHES ON FIRE
If you should catch on fire:
- where you are
- to the floor
- around on the floor
This will smother the flames, possibly saving your life.
Just remember to STOP, DROP and ROLL.
If a co-worker catches on fire, smother flames by grabbing
a blanket or rug and wrapping them up in it. That could
save them from serious burns or even death.