10 Tips to Manage Fire Outbreaks Anytime. Fire outbreaks have caused enormous damages to lives and properties worth millions of dollars. Get this timely update of managing fire incidents at the tips of your fingers.
Can you live without fire? Fire plays a significant role in mankind’s affairs which cannot be underestimated. As a friend, fire has a wide use that benefits us in our daily lives. These uses extend from domestic to industrial application and even religious purposes.
However, like an enemy, the destructiveness of a raging and uncontrolled fire outbreak can live irreparable loss and bitterness. Recently, fire outbreaks in Nigeria are on the increase and have caused damages to properties worth millions of naira including loss of lives at homes, offices, markets, filling stations and other public places.
Certainly, any ‘effect’ that is able to result in enormous damages as such listed above is worthy of our consideration. The question is: what would you do if you were caught in the rage before help can arrive?
Popular to the firefighting service unit is the saying,’ No two fires are the same’. Therefore, one must be aware of the following factors: first, the characteristic of the fire involved and second, the fire extinguishing method that is best applicable.
What is fire?
Fire is a rapid process or chemical reaction that involves reaction of oxygen in the atmosphere with combustible materials resulting in the production of heat and light.
For such processes to take place, the following elements must exist in their right proportions: oxygen to feed combustion, sufficient heat to reach ignition temperature of the combustible material, the combustible material and exothermic chemical chain reaction. Fire extinguishing methods aim at removing any one of the elements.
How you can prevent fire Outbreak
Fire outbreaks are best managed through prevention. Understanding the causes of fire outbreaks and the reasons for its rapid spread can be quite helpful in proffering useful tips to manage prevention.
1. Fire spreads when there is delay in discovering the fire at its initial stage. Having a fire alarm and smoke detector system is highly recommended to provide early signal. Ensure that they are never disconnected, missing or unresponsive due to dead batteries. They are important as your life because several fire survivors recall hearing a fire alarm even when at sleep.
2. Failure to switch off electrical appliances when not in use or during power surge and frequent fluctuations can lead to fire outbreaks. Therefore, always ensure to turn off all electrical appliances and sockets before you leave a room for long hours or when you notice an electrical fault or abnormal current.
3. Spread of fire can be caused by combustible furnishings and fabric. Furnishings and fabrics can be combustible by the kind of materials used to make them or if a greater part of the furnishings and fabric are in contact with combustible fuel.
In preventing the spread of fire, always ensure to use fire resistive materials in building and furnishing. Also, avoid actions such as treating bed mattress with flammable liquids such as kerosene to rid bed-bugs as such treatments may leave deposits of combustible elements on the surfaces.
4. Poor understanding on the behaviour and spread of fire can lead to panic, incoordination, desperate and thoughtless acts that can cause more damage than good. Regular fire drills conducted at home, offices, schools and other public places are good opportunities to learn coordination and be better prepared and rehearsed in an escape plan.
5. Lack of awareness and conformity to established regulations on fire safety laws encourages a lackadaisical attitude towards safety. Fire management issues are best addressed when employees, landlords, family heads, and those in the position of leadership play active roles in implementing, educating and enforcing legal obligations of fire safety laws stipulated by the Fire Service Act and Factory Act.
6. Lightning strikes on buildings are dangerous when there are no lightning protectors, most especially if highly flammable materials are stored within the building. Ensure that lightning protectors are installed and properly maintained in the building.
7. Severe fire burns can be fatal. If the clothes you wear catch fire, the most effective method to quench the fire is to drop down in the ground and roll back and forth to smother the flame.
8. Never ignore the last point you saw a fire distinguisher. Ensure that you know how to use one and read the labels correctly.
9. If you live in a story building, always ensure to be in position of a fire escape ladder placed in every inhabited room above ground floor.
10. Don’t leave clothing irons, candles, gas cookers, stoves, etc. unattended since these are one of the most common reasons for fire outbreaks.
Classes of Fire
Generally, there are five classes of fire depending on the combustible fuel or material involved and the standard used. Below is the United Kingdom Standard of classification which has six classes.
- Class-A Fire. This class of fire involves the combustion of organic solids such as wood, paper, fabric, refuse, grasses, cotton materials etc.
- Class-B Fire. This class of fire involves the combustion of flammable liquids such as petrol, kerosene, gasoline, etc.
- Class-C Fire. This class of fire involves the combustion of flammable gas such as methane, butane, propane, acetylene etc.
- Class-D Fire. This class of fire involves the combustion of flammable metals such as Zinc, Potassium, Magnesium, Lithium, Aluminium, Titanium, and Zirconium.
- Class-F Fire. This class of fire involves the combustion of cooking oil and fats.
- Electrical Fires. This class of fire are not identified as a full class because they can fall under any of the above classes of fire once the source of electricity has been removed. Electrical fires are caused by electrical faults such as short-circuiting machinery or overloading of electrical cables.
Note: The U.S. standard includes fire caused by Electrical faults under Class-C Fire.
How to Manage fire outbreaks – Methods of Extinguishing Fire
1. Class-A Fire
Method of extinguishing Class-A fire involves removing heat_ one of the elements of fire. This is done by spraying water on the burning organic materials.
Another method to manage fire outbreaks can be to reduce the oxygen in the immediate surrounding where there is fire incident. This is usually done by smothering the fire or introducing an inert gas such as carbon dioxide to the surrounding.
2. Class-B Fire
Because water has oxygen as one of its component element, it is usually not effective using water to extinguish fire involving highly flammable liquids such as Petrol. A combination of fire suppressant foam mixed with water is a better option. This combination forms a layer on top of the liquid fuel which inhibits the reactivity of oxygen needed for combustion.
3. Class-C Fire
Class-C fires are the most difficult to extinguish and must be prevented by all means. Certainly, you would need the help of the firefighting service.
Removal of oxygen is the most effective way of controlling Class-C fires.
Powder Fire extinguishers are effective for Class-C fire but not large conflagrations. The powder acts as a suppressing agent to smother the fire and prevent it from spreading.
5. Class-D Fire
Never use water or common firefighting agents to extinguish Class-D fire. These agents simply nurture fire the more. Dry powder fire extinguishers, not dry chemical agents, are highly recommended for this class of fire. They usually work by smothering and by heat absorption. Copper, graphite and sodium chloride granules are the most common of the dry powder fire extinguishers.
6. Class-E Fires
Using water, foams or other conductive agents can prove hazardous. Electrical fires can be fought by first turning off the source of electricity. It is subsequently treated as other classes of fire depending on the circumstances involved. However, you may wish to use a fire extinguishing agent clearly rated for electrical fire.
7. Class-F Fires
Class-F Fires are synonymous to Class-K on the U.S. standard of classifying fire. Water is a general extinguisher for this class. Fire blankets can sometimes be used to stop such fires which usually occur in the kitchen. Other appropriate fire extinguishers can be used including a fire bucket for small fires.
How to respond to a fire outbreak (R.A.C.E. Method)
- Rescue. Move impaired individuals and visitors away from immediate danger of fire or smoke only if you are able to do this without putting yourself at risk.
- Alert others. Without delay, sound the alarm for other persons in the building to be aware of the fire. Call the Firefighting Service at the locality near you.
The Nigerian Federal Fire Service emergency number in NIgeria is 0803 200 3557. in the USA, you can dial 911
- Ensure to close all the doors, windows and pack towels or sheets of papers underneath the door to contain smoke.
- Extinguish and Evacuate. Only extinguish the fire if you are trained and able to do so safely. Evacuate the area as soon as possible.
‘A stitch in time saves nine’
Are you better prepared to stay in control whenever you face a fire outbreak? Educating yourself on the essentials can be lifesaving if you put what you know into good use.
Therefore, never lax in your effort to be fire safety conscious, properly drilled, and well equipped to handle responses in fire emergency situations.
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