Episode 7 – Fire Safety / PASS


Toolbox Topic: Fire Safety Tips

A fire can happen when you least expect it, so often these discussions center around preparedness, but in today’s episode, let’s focus on prevention.



Fire is combustion or burning. Materials combine chemically with oxygen from the air and give out bright light, heat, and smoke. https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/fire

There are three elements required to create fire:

  • Heat, or an ignition source (such as a spark)

  • Fuel (such as paper or wood)

  • Oxygen

These three elements are typically referred to as the “fire triangle.”

How do you put out a fire? Remove one of those three elements.



It’s Likely man first discovered fire during lightning strikes or wildfires. Later this led to scavenging for fire and moving it. But when man was able to create fire, this changed human history, human biology, and most likely human evolution itself.

Using fire to heat food reduces the likelihood of poisoning or disease. Also, when food is heated, it causes the larger, more complex molecules to break up into smaller nutrients, which leads to increased caloric intake, which theoretically fuels the increase in the size of our human brains.

Although fire has been a great resource for mankind, it has also been a great menace.

Firefighting was developed to control the disastrous effects of fire.

In 22BC, Emperor Augustus created one of the first known fire watches. Later wealthy Romans would fund the first fire brigades. Around 6AD, Augustus created divisions of firefighters primarily made up of freedmen called vigils which means watchmen.

Firefighting started out mainly using only buckets. A hydraulic hand pump was later developed.

Fast forward to the 12th century. London, England had no official fire brigade, and firefighting techniques were not much more sophisticated than those used during Roman times.

Then there was London’s Great Fire of 1666. The wood construction of most buildings combined with strong winds made it impossible to fight the fire with only buckets and hand pumps. Nearly 80% of the city burned. This situation led to the 1st professional fire brigades, created, and maintained by insurance companies.

In early American history, the colonists fought fires using hometown grassroots bucket brigades. These brigades would line up and, at one end, fill the buckets with water and then pass the buckets down the line to the other end to throw on the fire.

New York City created the 1st volunteer fire dept in 1737.



According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), on average, Fire departments respond to a fire every 24 seconds.

According to the NFPA, the five most common causes of fires in commercial buildings are:

  • cooking equipment
  • heating equipment
  • electrical and lighting
  • smoking
  • arson

There are over 100,000 commercial fires every year – fires that happen at work. Although there are fewer fires than there have been over the last several decades, the cost of property damage caused by fires has increased exponentially. According to some estimates, fires now cost businesses over 2 billion dollars every year. And as unbelievable as this may sound, 52% of the larger fires occurred in buildings without functioning smoke detectors or buildings that had no smoke detectors at all!


Fire Safety Tips

Tip#1 Fire Prevention

Be proactive. Perform a simple inspection to identify any electrical issues. Are there at least 36 inches of clearance to all electrical panels? Are you following guidelines for proper electrical cord use? In other words, are you using multiple adapters to plug too many things into a single socket? Look for missing electrical outlet covers, frayed cords, and ungrounded plugs (those with only two prongs).


Tip#2 Emergency Procedures

Make sure you know your company’s fire evacuation plan – what you should do and where you should be! Participate in fire evacuation drills and know where your muster or meeting point is.


Tip#3 Housekeeping

Keep areas neat and organized. Eliminate any tripping hazards and keep exits clear. Look for fire hazards. Discard combustible trash such as paper, cardboard, and other items that can easily burn. Always dispose of any oil-soaked rags by discarding them into a standard metal can with a self-closing lid.


Tip#4 Flammable liquid storage

Store flammable liquids in UL or FM-approved cabinets except what is required for a day’s use. These cabinets are typically red or yellow and constructed of double-wall steel. Some companies may have a flammable liquid storage room that conforms to NFPA 30. At the end of your shift, remember to store any flammable liquids you’ve been using, including spray cans.


#5 Smoking Controls

Smoke only in designated smoking areas. Be sure to discard all smoking materials properly, for example, cigarette waste containers.


Tip#6 PASS

If you need to extinguish a fire, remember the acronym PASS, which stands for pull the pin, aim at the base, squeeze the handle, and sweep side to side.


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