When specifying or purchasing (FAFE) FIRST AID FIRE FIGHTING EQUIPMENT it is important to stand back and understand the reason for that specification or purpose. Why bother? Why not trust to fate and hope that a fire emergency will never happen. This unfortunately is an attitude that is all too common.
Fires do happen and they cause untold misery, loss of life, injury, loss of property, business, employment, much of which could be prevented or reduced by the diligent application of fire protection practice and the appropriate selection and use of fire fighting equipment – (EXTINGUISHERS)
ASSESSING THE RISK
What is the risk? A simple question on the face of it, but one which is often not adequately addressed. It is essential that full and detailed consideration is given to risk assessment.
Study of the building, the construction, the contents and furnishing and the process that will be carried out are the start point for an assessment. Consider also the people likely to be present in the event of an emergency, how are they going to react? What is the risk of a fire source and what are the potential consequences.
In terms of priority safety of life must be placed first. So at the top of the list must come as means of warning and means of escape. Next should be the protection of property and consideration must be given to the importance of the property being protected.
In selecting fire fighting equipment, third party certification to a standard is the purchaser’s guarantee of product, quality or fitness for the purpose.
In recent times, there has been a move away from gas cartridge type extinguishers in favour of the stored pressure type. Stored pressure extinguishers have a gauge showing interal pressure and hence indicating an extinguisher’s “good health”
For flammable liquid(B class) risk, both powder and foam may be appropriate. Powder will have the most rapid knockdown capability of any extinguisher, but it does not provide cooling or preventer-ignition. Foam extinguisher provide cooling and foam a ‘Seal’ excluding oxygen and thus preventing-re-ignition.
The British Standard – color coding – RED for water – CREAM for foam – BLUE for Powder – BLACK for Carbon Dioxide, is followed in srilanka.
The triangle of fire is well know and forms this basis of fire training – FUEL or MATERIAL – HEAT and OXYEN form the three side of the fire triangle and all must be present for fire to grow. Remove anf one side of the triangle and the fire is extinguished.
In practical terms, there is another fire trinagle made up of equipment – maintenance and traanang remove any one side from this triagle and the consequences could be devastating. Original equipment must be in fit for the purpose and maintence must be in place too ensure that is remains so.