Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Fort Leavenworth Fire and Emergency Services now has new equipment to make fire extinguisher training more realistic.
With the use of propane, the new system can simulate a trashcan fire, an oven fire, and an electrical motor fire.
“Before, we used the electronic simulator on the television (using laser technology)…and a lot thought of it as a video game because it didn’t give the reality of extinguishing the fire,” said Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention Dean Turner. “It’ll be more real now because you’ll actually see the flames coming out of the trashcan and around the motor.
“We don’t want people (to experience) the very first time using a fire extinguisher to be on an actual fire,” he said. “This makes them feel confident.”
There are five classes of fire. Class A is ordinary combustibles such as paper, cardboard and grass, which require water or dry chemical agent to extinguish. Class B is flammable liquids, which require foam or dry chemical agent to extinguish. Class C is electrical, which requires dry chemical agent to extinguish. Class D is flammable metals, which require a dry chemical agent to extinguish. Class K is cooking grease fires, usually caused by fats, grease and oils at commercial restaurants, which requires a special liquid that reacts with the fire and forms a foam barrier, known as saponification, on top of the grease and smothers it.
No one extinguisher covers all five classes of fire. Each class has its own fire extinguisher, but the most common type of fire extinguisher that is used is the multipurpose ABC extinguisher, which is what is found in office buildings on post.
“Walk around and locate all your fire extinguishers,” Turner said. “There is a pictogram on the fire extinguisher with steps on how to use it. Take the time to look at it, read it and become familiar with it.
“You should not have to travel more than 75 feet to a fire extinguisher,” he said.
The proper way to use a fire extinguisher is to follow the PASS acronym, Turner said.
Pull out the pin.
Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire.
Squeeze the lever.
Sweep it back and forth across the fire.
“Fire is made up of oxygen, fuel and heat. As long as you remove one of those elements, the fire will go out,” Turner said. “Normally, what we’re going to do is separate the fire from the oxygen and extinguish it. You can smother it and take away the oxygen.
“The fuel is actually what is burning, and it’s hard to take that away,” he said. “Make sure you have an exit at your back. Never have the fire between you and an exit.”
If a fire extinguisher is not putting the fire out, contain the fire by shutting the door and call 911.
When purchasing a fire extinguisher for the home, Turner said an ABC multipurpose extinguisher is recommended and should be stamped with either an Underwriters Laboratories or Factory Mutual Insurance Company stamp.
“If it has those labels on there, then those fire extinguishers have been tested and certified by the Underwriters Laboratories,” Turner said.
Old fire extinguishers can be donated to the Fort Leavenworth Fire Department to use in training sessions.
To sign up for fire extinguisher training, call Turner at 684-4190 or e-mail Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org.