Fire extinguishers are very valuable in dealing with fire situations, if used properly and efficiently in the early stages of a fire. The greatest advantage lies in its portability and mobility. In addition, their immediate availability and easy usage by one or two persons is another advantage.
The usefulness of these extinguishers is limited, as it is entirely dependent upon the pressure of persons having knowledge to operate them. Further, the capacity is also limited and the operational value largely depends upon the initial charge being sufficient to overcome and extinguish the fire. For example, depending upon the type and capacity of the extinguisher the discharge time may be 10 seconds to 90 seconds and the range of jet may be 3 to 10 meters.
Thus, these extinguishers are not expected to deal with a large fire, as all these are essentially first-aid fire fighting appliances. Routine inspection and periodical testing of fire extinguishers is necessary to ensure that these extinguishers are maintained in good working conditions.
As fire extinguishers are intended only for the use of incipient fires, they will be of little value if the fire is not extinguished or brought under control, in the early stages.
Hence, all the employees shall be imparted periodical training in the operation and use of fire extinguishers.