Fire Hazards

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Medical Courier Safety. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Fire Hazards

As a courier, it is important that you understand fire safety and how to use a fire extinguisher. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fires are classified into five types based on the material burning. The four types of fires that apply to the laboratory include:
  • Class A fires involve ordinary solid combustible materials such as paper, wood, or cloth. Class A fires may smolder for a long time, so it is important to drown them thoroughly.
  • Class B fires involve flammable liquids such as chemicals or grease. Never use water, which may spread the fire further without doing anything to put it out.
  • Class C fires involve electricity. Never use water on electrical fires—water conducts electricity. In an electrical fire, never touch the burning object—even if it is a person.
NOTE: Most laboratories use fire extinguishers that can put out class A, B, and C fires. These types of extinguishers are called ABC extinguishers.
  • Class D fires involve metals such as aluminum and magnesium. Sand is the best method for extinguishing this type of fire. Class D fires are usually not found in laboratories but rather in manufacturing, where large amounts of metals are used. Caution: Never use water, as it may cause a violent reaction.
As an employee, you should learn the proper way to discharge a fire extinguisher. An easy way to remember is to use the acronym PASS:
  • P stands for pull the pin.
  • A stands for aim at the base of the fire.
  • S stands for squeeze the lever.
  • S stands for sweep the nozzle from side to side.
Your supervisor will inform you how to properly report a fire or the appearance of smoke in the laboratory. Do not keep this information to yourself. Alert your co-workers.
Another useful acronym is RACE:
  • R stands for rescue victims.
  • A stands for activate the alarm.
  • C stands for contain or confine the fire.
  • E stands for evacuate or extinguish.
Be aware and learn where the fire pull stations are located and the location of fire extinguishers in all the facilities you visit.
Remember the best fire safety is fire prevention.

An ABC fire extinguisher.