Fire extinguishers are a very important component of safe laboratory operation. Each laboratory should be equipped with the appropriate type for the expected fire emergency and be capable of immediate utilization. Currently, the multi-purpose (Class ABC) extinguishers are utilized for the majority of laboratories on campus.
The basic operation of fire extinguishers is covered in the online General Laboratory Safety Training. All fire extinguishers, excluding specialty fire extinguishers are installed, maintained, and inspected by the UH Fire Marshal’s Office. Specialty fire extinguishers (e.g. Class D) maintenance and inspection are the responsibility of the laboratory or College.
Common types of extinguishers in the laboratory and shops include:
- Class ABC dry chemical for ordinary combustibles such as paper, wood, cloth, and plastic. Class ABC extinguisher contains fine powder, difficult to clean after use.
- Class D powder extinguisher for laboratories that store and use water reactives and combustible metals (e.g. Sodium, Lithium, Magnesium, etc.)
Laboratories using combustible metals must have an appropriate Class D fire extinguisher in the laboratory to extinguish a combustible metal fire.
- If the fire is large or spreading, alert building occupants verbally and activate the fire alarm. Call UHPD at 713-713-3333 immediately it is safe to do so.
- Fire extinguishers, when used properly and under the right conditions are a first line of defense. Fire extinguishers are primarily used for occupant escape.
- Laboratory are shop personnel are not required to use fire extinguishers and should only use it if safe to do so
- Obtain training on how to use fire extinguishers as well as the location and types of fire extinguishers.
- Always position yourself with an exit or means of escape at your back before attempting to extinguish a fire
- Fire extinguishers are firmly mounted on a wall. They should be easily accessible and unobstructed
- Never attempt to fight fires if it is spreading, you do not know what is burning
For more information see the General Laboratory Safety Manual (Section 4.2 Safety Equipment) and the Chemical Hygiene Plan (Section 7.0 Engineering Controls).