Fundamentals of extinguishing a fire

Not wishing to condescend or teach anyone how to ‘suck eggs’ (where does that phrase come from?) but here follow some basic tips on how to put a fire out.

The triangle of fire shows the three things needed for a fire; oxygen, fuel and heat. We also know that if we can remove one or more of these the fire will go out (eventually).

Tip 1 – remove the fuel. This can be as simple as switching off an electric fire or a gas hob, unplugging an appliance. This may not be enough on its own if, for example, a pan of oil has caught fire as this is also fuel.

Tip 2 – cool down the fire to remove the heat, a bucket of water thrown in a burning waste bin for example. Be careful though, some fires such as burning oil or fat, are made worse by having water thrown on them – the water will not mix with the oil but will instead boil and steam causing the fire to splash and spread.

Tip 3 – starve the fire of oxygen. An example of this is placing a fire blanket over a pan of burning oil as this will smother the fire preventing the oxygen from getting to it. As an alternative to a fire blanket, soak a tea towel in cold water.

Fire Extinguishers

It is worth having to hand a fire extinguisher and making sure you know how to use it. These are the more common types you may see.

Of course you should only tackle a fire if it is safe to do so. If in doubt, it is better to get yourself and everyone else out of the home, and then call 999.

If you have questions about fire risk assessment, or for help on any aspect of fire safety, call us on 01524 784356 today.

Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.

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