Our seasoned fire extinguisher trainer, Tony Snyder, had an interesting experience at one of his fire training classes during August, 2013.Tony was at an automotive facility conducting hands on fire extinguisher training classes for approximately 150 employees. The facility’s safety director wanted every employee to go through the training to get educated on the proper way to use hand portable and wheel unit fire extinguishers. This automotive industry facility has the processes conducive of creating fire hazards. The following is a play-by-play account by Tony, on what transpired…
I show up with all my equipment, the weather is beautiful, and I start setting up the props and fire extinguishers in place for wind direction as well as distance from outdoor hazards. The day has officially started – let the fire extinguishing begin!
After 10 hours of training, having completed 6 out of 7 classes, I am getting organized for the final class to start in about 15 minutes. I hear a young man yell out of a door of the facility: “Hey! We have a fire in here!” My first thought is the gentleman is messing around with me, because we had been doing training all day and everybody was starting to get tired and a little punchy. However, I could tell by the gentleman’s body language that he wasn’t messing around and there really was a fire.
I enter the plant and go towards the area of the fire. As I am traveling to the area some folks are exiting the building and making the comment: “It’s a good thing we are doing training today”. I get to the area and I start instructing different guys on the areas to discharge the fire extinguishers. The fire was in a large grinder and the material in the grinder was smoldering very bad. One worker had discharged a wheel unit in some of the duct work; another worker had discharged a wheel unit in the grinder. He proceeds to remove a panel from the side of the grinder. As he is working on that I remind him that when the panel comes off and the insides are exposed to open air the fire is going to flare up very fast – and it did! Within a couple of seconds he had 3 foot of flame. He opens the nozzle on a wheel unit and extinguishes the fire. He begins to move the smoldering material out of the grinder while continuing to discharge on the embers. The smoldering created such a vacuum it collapsed the duct work, so a gentleman removes the duct work and proceeds to extinguish from the opposite side of the grinder. The fire is successfully extinguished and clean up begins!
I return outside to conduct the last class of hands on fire extinguisher training. As I am exiting the plant the fire trucks are pulling in only to find that the fire has been extinguished. The employees did a great job and everybody worked quickly and safely. Training does pay off and make a difference.”