Playing With Fire: Read These Safety Tips! - BodyShop Business
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Playing With Fire: Read These Safety Tips!

Do you know the exact steps to take if fire breaks out in your shop? For your sake — and that of your employees — learn the proper way to use a fire extinguisher before you’re faced with flames


You’ve seen fire extinguishers on the wall at your workplace, but have you ever needed to use one? Would you know the exact steps to take if fire broke out in your shop? There are facts about using fire extinguishers that should be known before you ever make a decision to use one. There are also different types of fire extinguishers for different classes of fires. Using the wrong extinguisher on a fire will not only be ineffective but could cause the fire to get worse.

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There are four basic classes of fires:

• Class A is a fire involving ordinary combustibles, such as wood, cloth and paper.

• Class B is a fire involving flammable liquids, such as gasoline, lacquer thinner and oil-based paint.

• Class C is a fire involving energized electrical equipment, including shorted wiring, fuse boxes and circuit breakers. Most vehicle fires start as electrical fires.

• Class D is a fire involving combustible metals, such as a flash fire caused by welding on magnesium.

Fire extinguishers are rated for the fires they can put out. Most fires in collision repair facilities are A, B or C fires. Fortunately, "A-B-C" fire extinguishers are available, and your shop should have several of them throughout the facility. The extinguishing agent used in A-B-C extinguishers is usually monoammonium phosphate, which forms a crust on a fire to smother it out.


An extinguisher rated for only Class A fires usually contains pressurized water. Using this fire extinguisher on an electrical fire would cause more problems than it solves, since water is conductive. On a burning-liquid fire, water can make the fire spread.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) and sodium bicarbonate are common agents for combined Class B-C fire extinguishers. Although effective on both electrical and burning-liquid fires, CO2 won’t extinguish a paper or wood fire.

Class D fire extinguishers use a dry powder and are effective only on a fire involving combustible metals.

If the fire is small and obviously well contained, such as inside a trash can, reaching for the fire extinguisher may be the first step. But in a real fire emergency, extinguishing the fire is the last thing you should attempt. Instead, fire officials like you to keep the acronym "RACE" in mind.

  1. Rescue anyone in immediate danger and evacuate the area or building as necessary.
  2. Alert the fire department by calling 911 or activating the fire alarm. Explain the situation and the fire’s origin.
  3. Contain the fire as much as possible by closing doors to remove sources of oxygen.
  4. Extinguish the fire, if possible. If you have the fire extinguisher in hand and you’re outside, stand upwind of the fire. If you’re inside a building, position yourself between the fire and an exit so you can escape.

Reprinted courtesy of "I-CAR Advantage."

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