Simulator adds realism to extinguisher training

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Annika Kinder, Fort Leavenworth Public Affairs intern and senior at Park University, practices putting out a fire with the Fort Leavenworth Fire and Emergency Services' fire extinguisher trainer, keeping in mind the acronym PASS (pull the pin, aim at the base of the fire, squeeze the lever, sweep side to side), Oct. 7 at the All-Hazards Training Center. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

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.

Annika Kinder, Fort Leavenworth Public Affairs intern and senior at Park University, pulls the pin on a fire extinguisher as she practices putting out a fire, supervised by Fort Leavenworth Fire and Emergency Services personnel Fire Inspector Aaron Dennis, Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention Dean Turner and Assistant Chief of Training Edgar Guerra, using the fire extinguisher trainer Oct. 7 at the All-Hazards Training Center. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

“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.

Fort Leavenworth Fire and Emergency Services Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention Dean Turner points out the classes — class A for basic combustibles, class B for flammable liquids and class C for electrical — listed on a multipurpose fire extinguisher during fire extinguisher training for office staff Oct. 7 at the All-Hazards Training Center. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

“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.

Fort Leavenworth Fire and Emergency Services Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention Dean Turner points out the classes — class A for basic combustibles, class B for flammable liquids and class C for electrical — listed on a multipurpose fire extinguisher during fire extinguisher training for office staff Oct. 7 at the All-Hazards Training Center. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

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 dean.t.turner.civ@mail.mil.

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