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Fire extinguishers should among kitchen supplies for Red Deerians: safety officer

Free public training sessions on fire extinguisher use held in Red Deer
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Fire safety code officer Andrew Towers, of Red Deer Emergency Services, is giving free demonstrations on how to use fire extinguishers in Red Deer this week. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

“Every single house in Red Deer” would have a small fire extinguisher in the kitchen if fire safety code officer Andrew Towers had a say.

Towers said cooking fires spark the majority of local fire emergency calls, so he believes damage estimates would be minimized if householders had access to a dry chemical spray that could quickly douse the flames before they spread throughout the house.

Instead, some people will panic and throw water at a grease fire — which does nothing but intensify the sizzle, rise the oil out of the pan, potentially spreading it further, and increase the total amount of burning liquid.

“Oil and water do not mix,” stressed Towers.

He noted a fire extinguisher rated ‘ABC’ is appropriate for household use. This denotes it’s good for fires caused by wood and paper, flammable liquids and electricity. Many of these small extinguishers sell for about $50, he added.

Towers was giving fire extinguisher demonstrations Tuesday in the parking lot of the G.H. Dawe Community Centre in recognition of Fire Prevention Week.

Red Deer Emergency Services is also hosting these training sessions at other City of Red Deer facilities. Area residents are invited to learn to “be prepared to respond to an emergency by learning the proper use of fire extinguishers” on Wednesday at the Servus Arena, or Thursday at the Collicutt Centre.

All of the sessions, hosted by the Fire Prevention Bureau, run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and are open to all ages.

The large industrial fire extinguishers used at the training sessions pack water instead of chemicals and are larger and heavier than most people would use in their homes. But the principle is the same.

Towers said “We use (the acronym) PASS,” which stands for Pull the pin, Aim the nozzle, Squeeze the two handles together, and Sweep the water spray from side to side, aiming it at the base of the flames.

But one of the key messages at the session is that no one should feel compelled to stay and fight the flames if their lives are potentially at risk. “We don’t want anyone to use them if it’s hazardous. Then you should call 911,” said Towers.

“We’ve got lots of great fire-medics to put out the flames… but if you are comfortable, willing and able” to use a fire extinguisher, then it’s good to know how to handle one, he added.

Darian Lueken, who had just left a yoga class at the Dawe, showed he was a quick learner, using a fire extinguisher to handily douse the flames created by a practise burner at Tuesday’s training session.

Lueken is applying to become a volunteer firefighter with Red Deer County, but also believes “this stuff is important for anyone to learn.” He added he has a fire extinguisher at his workplace but has never before needed to activate it.

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Fire safety code officer Andrew Towers, of Red Deer Emergency Services, is giving free demonstrations on how to use fire extinguishers in Red Deer this week. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).


Lana Michelin

About the Author: Lana Michelin

Lana Michelin has been a reporter for the Red Deer Advocate since moving to the city in 1991.
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