Reacting to Fire

Using a fire extinguisher

Always store fire extinguishers somewhere visible and easy to access.  Fire extinguishers should be kept anywhere that fire could likely occur (kitchen, fireplace, combustible material storage), or anywhere that they may be needed to create safe egress in the event of fire (utility or electrical room).  Use of an extinguisher can be summarized with the acronym PASS:

  • Pull - Pull the safety pin
  • Aim - Point the nozzle at the base of the fire, this is where the fuel is located
  • Squeeze - Squeeze the handle lever to discharge the extinguisher
  • Sweep - Move towards the fire, sweeping the nozzle back and forth across the base of the fire.

Keep in mind that fire extinguishers have a very short duration (10-20 seconds) and a relatively short range.  Be familiar with your fire extinguishers so that you are comfortable using them if the need arises.


Putting out a kitchen fire

Kitchens are a common location for fires in the home and are best dealt with by smothering them.  Do Not try to extinguish a kitchen fire using water.  The preferred method is to carefully place a lid on the pot or pan that is burning.  Bring the lid in from the side of the fire(rather than coming from above) to deflect the heat and flame away from you, wear an oven mitt to protect your forearms.  If a lid is not available consider a cutting board, baking sheet, or damp tea towel.  A fire extinguisher is not recommended because the pressurized extinguishing material has the potential to spray the burning oil or grease out of the pan and possibly back at you.  Water is incredibly dangerous to use on fires that involve oil or grease, adding water to these fires will create an extremely aggressive fireball causing severe burns and spread the fire (follow this link to see for yourself).


Reacting to a chimney fire

Chimneys are a relatively common location for household fires.  Most of these incidents can be prevented through proper maintenance(chimney cleaning and inspection).  A chimney fire involves the burning of creosote deposits that accumulate on the inside of the chimney flue as a result of burning wood in a fireplace or stove.  This type of fire is often identified by the appearance of excessive smoke or flames coming from the top of your chimney.  In the event of a chimney fire, discharging a powder type fire extinguisher directly into the woodstove/fireplace may be an effective way to smother the fire.  The fire pulls air up the flue to feed itself and this will draw the extinguisher powder up the chimney and deliver it to the point of combustion.  Though this may be effective at stopping the fire (at least temporarily) it is important to call the Fire Department inspect your chimney immediately to ensure the the fire is completely out and has not migrated into the walls, roof, or attic of your home.


Ensuring your campfire is out

Campfires are a leading cause of wildfire in Alberta, ensuring that your campfire is completely out is as simple as these three steps:  

  1. Soak it
  2. Stir it
  3. Soak it again

Pour water on your fire to the point of it being a slurry, stir the ashes and coals around thoroughly to expose any hotspots, soak it again to extinguish the hotspots.  Repeat these steps as necessary.

Within Jasper National Park fires are only permitted in designated campsites with approved fire pits or fire boxes.  Campfires that are built outside of designated fire pits can burn in the soil and roots of trees for weeks and are a common cause of wildfires as they spring back to life when the right weather conditions present themselves, typically long after the campers have left.