Fire Safety

The marshal training day that I attended earlier on in the year included a useful section on fire safety. All aimed at trackside and dealing with car fires but for someone who has no training at all and never even held an extinguisher, it was invaluable. We all had a go at using the powder and foam extinguishers to put out two cars on fire, which was really scary, but I was glad my first attempt was under controlled conditions! 

From this introduction I was keen to get further training & luckily the chance came up at work to be a fire marshal. In practice this will most likely involve herding an office full of unwilling engineers away from their warm desks out into the cold, windy, wet car park (false alarms and tests always seem to fall on days with bad weather!), but it is a great chance to get properly trained in fire safety.

One day last week I attended an excellent training session, with theory covering all aspects of fire, from the basic ‘fire triangle’ to other stuff that I didn’t know, like the different fire extinguishers.

There was a lot of useful information about fire safety in the home as well as the work place, I guess a lot of it is transferable (for example signs of fire behind a closed door). I was pleased that our fire plan from being little at home came in useful as I actually could say ‘yes’ when he asked if anyone had one. Granted I don’t live at home anymore, but still at least Mum had drilled something useful into us 🙂 [Touch the door, if its hot don’t open it & shove towels along the bottom of the door. Break the window (with double glazing quite how we were going to do this I don’t know!), throw mattress out, leaving bedding covering broken glass & jump!].

Above all else, a lot of what was said and the pictures/videos shown, made you stop and think. Those fire doors I used to prop open in my old flat because they banged and were heavy? Yeh they were like that for a reason, to stop the whole place going up in minutes. Ground floor fire on a hot day with windows open? Check the room above as the smoke is likely to be just as thick there. If someone is sleeping don’t wake them up if the smoke is too low as they will sit up and gasp, filling their lungs with toxic fumes. Keep all doors closed to at least slow down a fire and try to contain it a bit. Also use the back of your hand to check the temperature as your reactions are quicker than the palm of your hand. Besides you don’t use the back of your hand as much if you do get burnt.

The list goes on, these are just a few things that have popped into my head as I’m writing this post. But as you can see, none of those things are rocket science, yet I can’t be the only one who hadn’t thought of them! Even for the basics I think fire safety should be something everyone has to do, as a child at school and again once you’re an adult.

Do not use fire extinguishers as door stops by Hembo Pagi on flickr

I found the theory about fire extinguishers interesting because I didn’t know about the different types of fire extinguisher, other than the small amount that relates to racing cars (powder to knock the fire down, foam to seal it). Powder isn’t a good idea inside a building so I’ve got to remember not to rely on the same as when marshalling!

The session really made me think about my actions & what I would do in a fire. It occurred to me there is all this legislation in the work place covering the precautions against fire, and procedures to deal with fire, but what about at home? Is remembering to close the doors and having a fire plan enough to protect our loved ones and our homes? Perhaps its time we all had fire extinguishers and fire blankets? I’ll at least be testing my smoke alarm!


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