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How to Use a Fire Blanket

What are Fire Blankets?

Fire blankets are ideal for putting out small burning pans, so it’s recommended to keep one in the kitchen and learn how to use it correctly and confidently.

When cooking, if a pan catches light under no circumstances should you pour water onto the flames. This will result in the fire spreading out rapidly, often with devastating consequences. Therefore if you decide to tackle a pan fire, the most safe and effective method is using a fire blanket.

Fire blankets are made out of glass fibre fabric, with a thin fire resistant coating. They work by stopping the airflow to the fire, starving it of Oxygen – one of the vital ingredients that fire needs in order to keep burning. They are a much safer option than the traditional wet tea-towel approach, which since 2008 has been advised against in government fire safety campaigns.

Make Sure Blanket is Correct Size

Before using a fire blanket, firstly you have to judge if it safe to fight the fire. This will depend on whether the blanket is big enough to cover the full area of the fire and therefore cut off the Oxygen supply to the flames. As always in the case of fire, you should use caution and if there’s any doubt that you can put out the fire safely, shut the kitchen door behind you, get out and dial 999 straight away.

Step by Step: Using a Fire Blanket

  • Turn off the source of heat if it is safe to do so, if not do this as soon as possible after the flames have been extinguished.
  • Pull the fire blanket out of its container and stretch it out fully, making sure that it covers the size of the fire.
  • Keep the blanket at arm’s length and approach the fire – looking over the top of the blanket, so you have a clear view of what you are doing.
  • Cover the burning pan, completely smothering the flames.
  • Leave the blanket in place for at least 30 minutes to an hour before removing to avoid re-ignition.
  • After putting the blanket on the flames – leave the room, shutting the door behind you and call the fire brigade. They will need to make sure everything is safe before you can re-enter the building, so this is important even if the fire has been put out.

For fires in commercial kitchens it is also recommended to have a wet chemical fire extinguisher as these are the only type of fire extinguisher designed specifically for use on fires in the kitchen involving large volumes of cooking oil as in deep fat fryers.

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How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

The most important thing to remember if you discover a fire is to remain calm, think logically and raise the alarm. Fire can spread very quickly and you should never underestimate it. You should only attempt to tackle a fire yourself; if you are sure you can do this safely. If in doubt – it’s best to get out, stay out, call 999 and leave it to the professionals.

Fire extinguishers are your first line of defence in the event of a fire, but you first you need to make sure you are using the correct type of extinguisher for the fire. Using the wrong type can be dangerous and risk making the fire worse. Check the pictogram instructions on the front if you are not sure which types of fires your extinguisher is suitable for.

Before you start, check the extinguisher for any signs of visible damage. Ensure the seal has not been broken and on ones where there is a pressure gauge located near the handle, it should be in the green. This means that the fire extinguisher is charged up and ready to use.

If the extinguisher passes all these checks then it is safe to use. Break the plastic safety tag and get into position. Make sure you stand at a distance of about 8-12 feet away from the flames, any closer or further away will be ineffective, potentially dangerous and risk spreading the fire.

Just Remember P.A.S.S.

P – Pull out the safety pin, located at the top of the extinguisher.

A – Aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire.

S – Squeeze the handle to spray the contents.

S – Sweep from side to side until all of the flames have been extinguished. Keep spraying to avoid re-ignition until extinguisher contents have been fully discharged.

Special Advice for Foam and CO2 Fire Extinguishers

Most extinguishers should be operated in the same way as mentioned above, although there are special guidelines for foam and CO2 extinguishers. Foam extinguishers should be aimed at the back edge of a fire instead of the base to be most effective.

Care and attention should be exercised when using Carbon Dioxide fire extinguishers. The user should position the discharge horn before use, as during use this becomes very cold and touching it will result in freeze burns. Also for this reason, when using you should hold the extinguisher by the handle and NOT the horn.

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Different Types of Fire Extinguisher Explained

Fire extinguishers can be very useful tools for bringing fire under control in its early stages, but it is very important to make sure you use the correct type. Using the wrong type of fire extinguisher can be very dangerous, resulting in serious injury and risk potentially making the fire worse. Some extinguishers are more suited to some environments than others, it is important to assess which type is the most appropriate for your business. This is best taken care of by professional fire protection specialists, who can survey your premises and provide you with a complete site survey – to ensure you have the most suitable types of fire extinguishers installed.

Five Types of Fire Extinguisher

All fire extinguishers in the UK have clear colour co-ordinated labelling, located towards the top of the extinguisher. To ensure your safety you should familiarise yourself with the five different colour co-ordinated types:

  • Water – Red
  • Powder – Blue
  • Foam – Cream
  • CO2 - Black
  • Wet Chemical – Yellow

Water – Red

Water fire extinguishers are commonplace in offices, shops and warehouses. They are ideal for tackling fires that are burning freely – involving paper, wood, textiles and other solid materials. However under no circumstances should water fire extinguishers be used on fires involving electrical equipment, as water conducts electricity potentially causing the operator an electric shock. These extinguishers are also unsuitable for fires involving flammable liquids, gases and cooking oil fires in the kitchen.

Dry Powder & Dry Special Powder – Blue

Powder fire extinguishers are fairly versatile and suitable for use against a variety of different types of fires. The powder inside the extinguisher prevents the chemical reactions happening that occur inside the fire, to stop it from spreading. When using, it is important to avoid inhaling any of the powder, therefore powder extinguishers are not recommended for use in small spaces such as offices.

These extinguishers can be used on wood, paper, textiles, liquid and electrical fires, so are useful for environments with the risk of several different types of fire, such as those involving chemicals or vehicles. However it’s important to note, powder fire extinguishers should not be used on fires in the kitchen and fires involving flammable metals for example aluminium and magnesium. Some special powder extinguishers are suitable for use on flammable metals, although you should always check the labelling on the extinguisher carefully before use.

Foam – Cream

Foam fire extinguishers are also suitable for different types of fires and are recommended for use particularly in factories, petrol stations and hotels. The foam produced is used to smother the fire and starve it of oxygen, thus extinguishing the flames. These are ideal for use on wood, paper, textiles and liquid fires. Although they are safe to use on electrical equipment it will cause considerable irreversible damage to the appliances. They are also unsuitable for use on flammable gases and cooking fires with oil and grease in the kitchen.

CO2 – Black

Carbon Dioxide fire extinguishers are probably the type with the highest risk associated to the operator if used incorrectly, so caution is recommended. Their improper use can result in cold burns, particularly if skin comes into prolonged contact with the horn of the extinguisher, therefore the user should avoid holding the extinguisher by the horn. They also reduce the oxygen supply in the room, which although helps to put out the fire can make it harder to breathe if used in a confined space.

Also as Carbon Dioxide is a greenhouse gas, they are also the most environmentally un-friendly fire extinguisher – although much less harmful to the planet than Halon fire extinguishers which were withdrawn from general use in 2000, though they can still be found in some uses such as aviation.

CO2 fire extinguishers are suitable for use on electrical fires and flammable liquids including petrol, although ineffective against fires which involve wood, paper, textiles, flammable gases and cooking fires. They are best recommended for use in offices, shops, schools and other indoor environments, where there is electrical equipment present.

Wet Chemical – Yellow

Wet chemical fire extinguishers are also potentially hazardous to the user, as they can produce toxic fumes which can linger for a while, even after the fire has been put out. So after using indoors, you should open windows and doors if possible to make sure the area is well ventilated.

The chemical spray released by the extinguisher works by starting a chemical reaction that combines the discharge with the cooking fat or oil, to form a cake of soap like emulsion which cools the fire. These extinguishers are probably the type best suited to fires in the kitchen and are essential for restaurants. They are also suitable for fighting fires involving wood, paper and textiles although not suited for use on flammable liquids, gases and metals.

Maintenance of Fire Extinguishers

All fire extinguishers should be serviced annually from the date of installation, to ensure they are in good working order, filled up and safe to use. It is extremely important that fire extinguishers are maintained, as they can potentially be dangerous if not looked after properly.

You should make sure that your fire extinguishers are regularly checked by specialists, our fully trained Euro Fire Protection engineers are registered under the BAFE extinguisher technician scheme and offer complete fire extinguisher maintenance, to give you peace of mind that in the event of a fire, your first line of defence is protected.

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