Response to Emergencies and Safety Hazards – Fire Recognition and Response

Fire Recognition and Response

When a fire occurs, evaluate the type and extent. If it is a large fire, all personnel should be evacuated. Control measures should only be taken for small isolated fires.

Types of Fires

There are three common types of fires. The method of extinguishing the fire depends on the type.

Class A involves wood, paper, plastics, and other solid combustible materials. These materials may smolder and re-ignite.

Class B burning flammable liquids like gasoline, oil, grease, or acetone. If flammable liquids have spilled but not ignited, sand-activated charcoal or another non-flammable absorbent may 

contain the spill. Natural gas fires are also considered Class B fires. After the gas has been turned off, they may be extinguished with C02. Do not use water as it may spread the fire.

Class C are fires that involve electricity. Dry chemical extinguishers may be used, but C02 is the most effective. If possible, turn off the power source. The fire then becomes a Class A or B fire. Do not use liquid as the risk of electric shock is too significant and will cause shorting of circuitry (potentially leading to more fires).



  • Smoke
  • Flames


  • Smell of something burning;
  • acrid smell(chemical)


  • Heat felt on the doorknob, wall, etc.


  • Sound of fire crackling
  • Explosion
  • Alarms


1) May give the specific location of the fire

2) May ring locally to make you aware of the smoke, flame, or carbon monoxide in a general area.

3) Treat all alarms as though they are real. Use your senses when verifying an alarm.

Fire Response

RACE- When a fire is discovered or suspected, do the following:

1) Rescue- immediate lifesaving and warning those in danger.

2) Alarm- signal the alarm and/or fire department by calling 911

3) Confine- close doors and windows to cut off the oxygen supply to the fire

4) Extinguish- know the locations of fire extinguishers and/or extinguishing systems and how to use them.

Put out the fire only if it is safe to do so. Evacuate if necessary.

Fire Extinguishers

Fire Extinguishers are divided into 4 different categories based on different types of fires. Each fire extinguisher also has a numerical rating that guides how much fire the extinguisher can handle. The higher the number, the more firefighting power.

Class A extinguishers are for ordinary combustible materials such as paper, wood, cardboard, and most plastics. These extinguishers are air-pressurized water. The numerical rating of these types of extinguishers indicates the amount of water they hold and the amount of fire they can extinguish.

Class B fires involve flammable and combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, grease, and oil. Usually, Co2, the numerical rating for Class B extinguishers indicates the approximate number of square feet of fire that it can extinguish.

Class C fires involve electrical equipment, such as appliances, wiring, circuit breakers, and outlets. Dry chemical Class C extinguishers do not have a numerical rating. The classification means the extinguishing agent is non-conductive.

Some fires may involve a combination of these classifications. Your fire extinguishers should have ABC ratings on them. 

Types of Fire Extinguishers

Air pressurized water (APlN)-Air-pressurized water extinguishers are designed for class-A fires only. They should not be used on liquid or electrical fires.

Carbon Dioxide Co2 – Carbon dioxide is a non-flammable gas that extinguishes a fire by displacing oxygen. The carbon dioxide is also very cold as it comes out of the extinguisher, so it also cools the fuel. These are used for Class B and C fires.

Dry Chemical ABC-Dry Chemical extinguishers are designed to fight Class A, B, and C fires. ABC extinguishers coat material with a thin layer of chemical dust, separating the fuel from the oxygen in the air. The powder interrupts the chemical reaction of fire, making these extinguishers very effective. However, the sticky residue may damage computers and other electrical devices.

Proper Use

In case of an electrical fire, try to safely turn off the source of electricity (i.e., fuse, breaker box, main power shut off). Read the instructions before using your fire extinguisher before it’s too late. Although there are many different types of fire extinguishers, all of them operate similarly. Use this acronym as a quick reference (it is a good idea to print this reference and pin it next to your fire extinguisher):


  • Pull the pin at the top of the extinguisher. The pin releases a locking mechanism, allowing you to discharge the extinguisher.
  • Aim at the base of the fire, not the flames. This is important- to put out the fire, you must extinguish the fuel.
  • Squeeze the lever slowly. This will release the extinguishing agent in the extinguisher. If the handle is released,
  • the discharge will stop.
  • Sweep from side to side. Move the fire extinguisher back and forth using a sweeping motion until the fire is entirely out. Operate the extinguisher from a safe distance, several feet away, and then move towards the fire once it diminishes. Be sure to read the instructions on your fire extinguisher- different fire extinguishers recommend operating them from different distances.

Remember: Aim at the base of the fire, not at the flames!!!

A typical fire extinguisher contains 10 seconds of extinguisher power. This could be less if it has already been partially discharged. Always read the instructions with the fire extinguisher beforehand and become familiar with its parts. It is highly recommended by fire prevention experts that you get hands-on training before operating a fire extinguisher. Most local fire departments offer this service. Once the fire is out, don’t walk away! Watch the area for 10-15 minutes in case it re-ignites. Recharge the extinguisher immediately after use.

Notes: Be aware that different types of fires can exist together and feed each other. Be mindful that explosions can occur when a fire is suddenly exposed to air or chemicals.

Finally, when the fire department arrives, redirect your efforts to securing the area and assisting fire crews only as directed.

Reporting Procedure

Contact the emergency response authority (911) or the local fire department, then call your supervisor/ manager.

Provide responding authority with clear, concise, and accurate information.

State your reason for calling.

  • Are flames visible?
  • Smoke? Color and density
  • Heat?
  • Smell? Smoke or electrical
  • Explosion? With or without the above

State the address where the fire is located

  • Actual street address (12345 Main St.) or distance from landmarks (1/2 mile south on Hwy 90 from the intersection of FM123 and Hwy 90, on the left.)
  • Location of building, land, or property at that address that is involved in the fire ( a brown Ford LTD in the rear parking lot)
  • Use compass direction to describe location within the confines of a particular street address (NW corner of the Acme building located at 12345 Mai St.)
  • State the location of the fire, Ex. Roof
  • Number of floors in the building
  • Approximate amount of acreage if it is a brush or forest fire
  • Is the building occupied?
  • Number and location of people?
  • Apparent injuries?
  • Be prepared to give:
    • your name
    • The location you are calling from
    • Who do you work for, and what is your occupation
    • What time did you discover the fire