Pants on fire

Originally published on Nov 28, 2011 on
Today I became a part of the Emergency Response Team in my office & was trained on the basics of fire safety & safety in general. It feels awesome to be an ERT member & have the responsibility of saving lives! It’s also quite scary. Our trainer talked about (and emphasized) how unsafe our environment is & anything can cause a fire. Did you know that anything around you can cause a fire? He showed us & talked about the many cases of fire where people lost their life due to lack of common sense & presence of mind. And jumping from a burning building is a strict no. The Carlton building fire, 9/11 & Tucson Hotel fire are some cases to highlight people’s immediate reaction of jumping out of burning buildings. I wanted to talk about what I learned today & hopefully you will learn somethings too.
The first thing on my agenda now is to identify the most hazardous places in my house & office. before that, what is fire? What are the three key things required for a fire?
Oxygen, Heat, Fuel
Only if all these are present will there be a fire. Absence of any of these can’t sustain fire. So this is the basic thing to keep in mind when we’re in a fire situation. And fuel isn’t just diesel or petrol; it’s your carpet, your doors, papers, wires, anything. It’s important to be aware of what around you can be fuel. So now, I will identify that area at home that all these three elements in abundance.
Did you know there are three classes of fire?
  1. A- Solid– fuel is wood, paper, cotton, textiles; anything that burns and gives ash
  2. B- Liquid– fuel is 
    petrol, diesel, kerosene, paint, oils
  3. C- Gas– fuel is 
    LPG, Acetylene, hydrogen, methane
  4. D- Metal– fuel is 
    sodium, potassium, magnesium, lithium


  5. E- Electrical– transformer, welding m/c, generators, panel boards
For each of these classes there are different types of extinguishers too:
  • Water (for solid fire)
  • Foam (for Cooling + blanketing)
  • Dry chemical powder- mono ammonium phosphate powder (for blanketing)
  • Carbon di oxide (for blanketing)
If you notice on fire extinguishers there are alphabets written indicating the class of fire it’s for. Usually most of them are A, B & C/B & C. They come in different sizes, weight, nozzles & designs. Buy the one that’s easiest to handle for you. Also keep in mind that extinguishers need regular maintenance otherwise they might not serve your purpose.
F- Find the fire
I- Inform the security/supervisor/fire brigade
R- Respond to the situation & try putting off the fire using the extinguisher
E- Evacuate everybody from the floor
Things to remember in these situations:
  • Who should you evacuate first- Physically challenged & Pregnant women (keep their  Mobile/intercom numbers handy always)
  • After the alarm siren wait for communication
  • The longest you should wait for communication is 30-40 seconds
  • DO NOT give details of the emergency to people. It will only cause more panic. Just mention there’s an emergency & they have to evacuate immediately.
  • If there’s media outside, don’t let employees go close to them. It will cause unnecessary drama.
  • Divert people to separate exits- evacuation will be faster
  • If anybody catches fire, throw a blanket on them from behind & throw water. Water will stop the heat from reaching the tissues & bones and will prevent 3rd degree burns. Do not remove the blanket immediately; It will cause skin to peel off. But do uncover the head so they can breathe. If there’s a pool around, just push them in.
So yeah, this is what I learnt today. We also practiced using the extinguishers. There were 4 types & I got to try two of them- the most difficult one & the most heaviest one. I did great with the heavy one; don’t ask what happened with the other 😐
Be safe!

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