FORT CAMPBELL, KY -- April 29, 2009 -- According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulation 1910.157(g), any employee that may be required to operate a fire extinguisher must be trained how to use the extinguisher, initially and annually after that.

On Fort Campbell, the job of educating employees about fire extinguishers falls on the shoulders of the fire department.

"Basically what we teach is the basics on how to operate the extinguisher and how to apply the extinguishing agent," said Joe Baker, deputy chief of fire protection. "We also tell the occupants it's up to them to determine if they're going to fight the fire or if they're not going to fight it."

Although the department promotes simply evacuating the building and calling the fire department, there are situations where the use of a fire extinguisher may be necessary to ensure employees' safety.

Baker said fire extinguishers are designed to keep the fire in check until the fire department gets there, to slow down a growing fire, or to help employees evacuate a building if a fire has blocked the exits.

For these reasons, the fire department hosts a class on the last Thursday of every month at the learning center to teach Fort Campbell employees how to operate the fire extinguishers found in every garrison building.

"We use the acronym of PASS - pull, aim, squeeze, sweep," Baker said. "You pull the pin, aim the nozzle at the base of the fire, squeeze the handle, and sweep back and forth. You start 6-8 feet away from the fire and you spray the agent at the base of the fire, because that's what's on fire. And then as the fire starts gradually dying down, you can work forward to the fire to put it out."
Baker said all the garrison buildings are equipped with 10-pound ABC extinguishers and are annually serviced by the fire department.

ABC extinguishers are multipurpose extinguishers that use dry chemical agents to extinguish fires. Class A fires are regular combustible materials like paper, wood, and most plastics. Class B fires are flammable liquids like gasoline, kerosene and grease, and class C are electrical fires.
As well as teaching employees to use extinguishers, the classes also teach basics of how to maintain the extinguisher in working condition between yearly services.

"It's very easy for an occupant to inspect the extinguisher. You're not certifying the extinguisher, all you're doing is inspecting it to make sure it's in working condition," Baker said.

Baker said to check the extinguisher to ensure the gauge is in the green, the pin is in the handle of the extinguisher with a plastic seal around it, and to make sure there's no obvious damage done to the cylinder like dents where the extinguisher has been dropped. Since it is a pressurized cylinder, dents damage the integrity of the cylinder. Also, look inside the hose to make sure none of the chemical has leaked out. The hose should be clean, without any cracks or dry-rot.

If any of these things aren't up to par, take it to Fire Station 3. Either they'll fix it or they'll exchange the extinguisher 1-for-1.

When it's time for the one year service, the extinguisher should be taken to Fire Station 3, 7160 Market Garden Road, to be traded in for a serviceable extinguisher.

Any extinguisher that has been discharged must be taken to Fire Station 3, as well, along with a fire report from the main fire station to be replaced. Any discharged extinguisher without a fire report won't be replaced without a note from a commander or director explaining why the extinguisher was discharged without a fire.

For more information, contact Joe Baker at (270) 956-1826.