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Using Fire Extinguishers

Most fire extinguishers provide operating instructions on their label; however, the time to learn about fire extinguishers is not during a fire. The sooner you know how to use a fire extinguisher, the better prepared you are.

NOTE: Portable fire extinguishers are located throughout all University facilities. They are mounted in readily accessible locations such as hallways, near exit doors and areas containing fire hazards. Make sure that fire extinguishers are accessible and securely mounted.

The Environmental Health & Safety Department provides fire extinguisher classes. When using a fire extinguisher to fight or control a fire, aim the spray at the base of the fire. Because most extinguishers only work for a short time, employ a sweeping motion and work quickly to control the fire.

IMPORTANT: Do not attempt to fight a fire unless it is small and controllable. Use good judgment to determine your capability to fight a fire. When fighting a fire, always maintain an escape route. Never allow a fire to block your egress.

20. Portable Extinguishers and Automobiles

All state-owned vehicles in excess of 20 horsepower must contain a 2- 1 / 2 pound A-B-C class fire extinguisher.

21. Sprinkler Systems

The purpose of water sprinkler systems is to help extinguish and minimize the spread of fires. Sprinklers are normally activated only by heat. They are not connected to emergency pull stations. To ensure that sprinklers are effective in the event of a fire, maintain at least 18 inches of clearance between any equipment or storage items and the ceiling. (Anything close to the ceiling can defeat the sprinkler system.) Never hang anything from a sprinkler head. Arrange work areas to facilitate sprinklers and allow even water distribution.

22. Halon and Carbon Dioxide Systems

Special work areas, such as computer rooms and chemical storage rooms, may contain specialized fire suppression systems. For example, many computer rooms contain halon systems and many chemical storage rooms contain carbon dioxide systems. Areas with special fire suppression systems will be clearly identified on the room door. People who work in these areas must do the following:

  • Keep all room doors and windows closed.
  • Know how the fire suppression system works (i.e., operation, abort switch, etc.).
  • Do not tamper with ceiling tiles.

If you have any questions about supplemental fire suppression systems, please contact your component's Safety and Health Department or the Director of Administration.

23. Fire Hoses and Standpipe Systems

Fire hose cabinets are located in several buildings near the exit stairwells and in corridors. Employees who use a fire hose to extinguish a fire should have received training to ensure proper usage and safety.

24. Open Burning

TAMUS-HSC must comply with TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) regulations for open burning. Follow these steps before burning anything outside:

  1. Only natural ground cover may be burned. It is not acceptable to store items for burning at a later date. Open burning must only be used as a way to remove brush and other acceptable items if no alternate removal can be used.
  2. Smoke and flying debris may not cross or contact public thoroughfares.
  3. Responsible persons must be present during the entire burn, be equipped with adequate fire fighting agents, and be able to quickly communicate with emergency response personnel.

Please contact your component's Safety and Health Department or the Director for Administration for additional information on open burning and alternative methods of disposal and for obtaining permits.

25. Holiday Decorations

Holiday decorations are often fire hazards. Follow these guidelines to improve fire safety during the holidays:

  • Do not use live Christmas trees in University buildings unless they are treated with fire retardants. Use an artificial tree that is fire resistant.
  • Do not place holiday decorations where they may block emergency egress (e.g., stairways, corridors, near doors, etc.)
  • Only use decorations that are flame retardant.
  • Practice good housekeeping by minimizing paper and other combustible decorations.
  • Avoid using extension cords. If you must use an extension cord, use a heavy gauge cord and place it in plain view. Make sure the cord does not pose a tripping hazard.
  • Use FM or UL labeled electrical decorations.
  • Do not light candles or use other decorations with open flames.
  • Turn off lights when the room is unoccupied.