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July 4th — the firebug’s holiday — is coming, so I’m bringing up fire safety again. At the Toolmonger shop, we take safety very seriously, and although we’re not the final authority on fire safety, we run into some good information and try to get opinions from experts when we can. Whether you’re following our advice or someone else’s, make sure you’re as prepared for a fire as you can be — it could be your shop, or even a life on the line.

In response to a post from last year, Deputy Fire Marshal Bill made a great comment: He pointed out that even if you pack a fire extinguisher, it’s important to first call 911 and get the firefighters on their way! The less time it takes for the professionals to arrive, the better off you are, regardless of what you do in the interim.

Even if you should be lucky and put the fire out, the firefighters will bring things like experience and thermographic imagers to make sure that you really are safe — instead of waiting for a smoldering fire in a wall or couch to reignite during the night while you sleep.

And if you choose to fight a fire yourself, remember that information is your best weapon. Make certain you know what you’re doing so you don’t make the fire bigger, or electrocute yourself. Your local fire department may also provide fire-safety classes and information.

Fire Extinguisher Basics [Fire Extinguisher 101]


2 Responses to Editorial: Fire Safety

  1. Stuart says:

    Every year at the annual lab safety presentation, we’re told that fire extinguishers are in place to satisfy building codes and that one’s primary concern in case of fire is to evacuate to safety. The safety coordinator emphasized that a fire extinguisher is designed to provide a means to get to safety when fire may be blocking the exit path.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if a large number of people are injured trying to fight fires that they assume they can put out themselves.

    Great post, by the way. It reminds me that it’s about time to buy a cheap extinguisher for practice. I’d rather not wait until there’s a fire to first learn how to wield an extinguisher. (yes, yes, I know aim at the base, but that’s no substitute for a hands-on test discharge.)

  2. Dazrin says:

    I have had fire extinguisher training a couple times, definitely a good experience. They emphasized two things: 1) Call 911 first, 2) If the fire is larger than a _small_ trash can it is too big for a fire extinguisher.

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