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Harper College

Fire Extinguisher Safety

There is always the possibility of a fire happening on campus, fire extinguishers can help minimize property damage and save lives if used properly. Stationed throughout campus, portable fire extinguishers are to be used on small or the beginning stages of a fire, not on a large-scale fire. Always call 911 and activate the fire alarm by pulling a fire pull station near an exit in the event of any size fire prior to using a fire extinguisher. 

Fire Extinguisher TrainingYou may attempt to extinguish the fire with a fire extinguisher if ALL of the following are present:

  • You have been trained in the use of fire extinguishers
  • The fire alarm has been activated and the building is evacuating 
  • The fire is small (waste basket size) and contained
  • You have the correct type of extinguisher
  • Your exit is clear, and you can fight the fire with your back to the door/ exit

Type of Fire Extinguishers 

  • Class A: For solids that do not include metal; examples are wood, paper, plastic and cloth 
    • Water or Air Pressurized Water can fight Class A fires only
  • Class B: For Flammable Liquids; examples are grease, gas, oil and acetone
    • Carbon Dioxide (CO2) can fight Class B and C fires 
    • If handheld Class B unit:
      • This method displaces the oxygen to stop fire. So do not use in an enclosed space, and have proper ventilation. 
      • Caution should be taken of the nozzle, which can get very cold and possibly cause frostbite.
  • Class C: For Electrical Fires; examples are energized equipment
  • Class D: For Combustible Metal; examples are potassium, sodium, aluminum, magnesium
  • Class K: Kitchen Fires; for vegetable oil or fats
  • Note: If you do not know what is burning in the fire, let the fire department handle the situation

Harper College uses an ABC combination fire extinguisher, which can be used on solids, flammable liquids or electrical fires, just not metal fires. 

Harper Fire ExtinguisherFire Triangle 

Eliminate any one of these items and you extinguish the fire

  • Oxygen: Sustains Combustion
  • Heat: Reaches Ignition 
  • Fuel: Combustion Materials 

Safe Use of Fire Extinguishers 

  • PASS
    • Pull the pin 
    • Aim at the base of the flames 
    • Squeeze trigger
    • Sweep from side to side

Safety Tips 

  • Always fight the fire with an escape route at your back 
  • Retreat and evacuate immediately if the heat, smoke, flames, etc. get out of control
  • If the fire is extinguished, watch for flare ups afterwards 
  • Beware of slippery floors with the extinguisher use; walk, don't run on slippery surfaces
  • Watch for unstable structures or equipment nearby
  • Replace / recharge all used fire extinguishers 

Weather permitting, Environmental Health and Safety Division holds annual Fire Extinguisher training for Harper Employees. This training is conducted with the Palatine Fire Prevention Division. If you are unable to attend the hands-on training session please take a few minutes to watch this informative Fire Extinguisher Training Video

"The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a global self-funded nonprofit organization, established in 1896, devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards." 

Check out their Youtube page to learn something new and find out more information on Fire Safety. National Fire Protection Association - YouTube

If you have little ones at home, why not check out NFPA Kids - Youtube, for educational videos to help teach children about fire safety. 

"TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short powerful talks (18 minutes or less). Ted began in 1984 as a conference where technology, entertainment and design converged, and today covers almost all topics - from science to business to global issues - in more than 100 languages."

Mark Bezos: A life lesson from a volunteer firefighter | TED Talk

Last Updated: 12/14/23