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Fire Safety and Fire Extinguishers

Introduction This document was originally designed to focus on fire situations in chemistry laboratories. While it continues to mention laboratories, the information contained herein is broadly applicable to almost all workplaces.

Fire is the most common serious hazard that one faces in a typical chemistry laboratory. While proper procedure and training can minimize the chances of an accidental fire, you must still be prepared to deal with a fire emergency should it occur (Look here for a graphic example). This document teaches you the basics about fire extinguishers - proper types, how to use them, when and when not to use them as well as the proper procedures to follow should a fire occur. It is not a comprehensive guide; be sure to read the disclaimer given below.
If your clothing is on fire (and the floor is not), STOP, DROP and ROLL on the ground to extinguish the flames. If you are within a few feet of a safety shower or fire blanket, you can use these instead, but do not try to make it "just down the hall" if you are on fire. If one of your coworkers catches fire and runs down the hallway in panic, tackle them and extinguish their clothing.
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Basic types of fire extinguishers
The two most common types of extinguishers in laboratories are pressurized dry chemical (Type BC or ABC, left) and carbon dioxide (CO2, right) extinguishers:


You can buy these in our on-line store, SafetyEmporium.com.
You may have other "clean agent" extinguishers besides CO2 (see next section), particularly if your workplace has sensitive electronic devices such as computers. Those who work with flammable metals may also have a specialized Class D dry powder extinguisher for use on fires (in a pinch, a bucket of dry sand will do, but you really should have a Class D unit if you work with such materials). Water-filled extinguishers are not acceptable for...
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