| May 15, 2019

Fire extinguishers aren’t for putting out fires, per se, said Glenna Shanks of Perth Fire Protection.

“They’re for use upon exit and to get people to safety,” she said. “They’re not used to play the hero.”

Shanks was at the Ompah Fire Hall Saturday to certify extinguishers as well as inform the public. The fire department also had a demonstration set up where people could ‘use’ an extinguisher to ‘put out’ an electronic fire, to get the hang of using one.

“To use an extinguisher, it’s PASS,” she said. “You Pull the pin, Aim, Squeeze the trigger and Sweep the base of the fire.”

She estimated that about 95 per cent of homes have extinguishers.

“This is important in areas like this one because of all the cottages where your fire protection options aren’t as extensive as more urban areas.”

She said the reason they do these clinics is that many people keep their extinguishers in cupboards and don’t realize they have to be certified every six and 12 years.

“Every six years they have to be emptied and tested inside and every 12 years, the hydrostatics have to be tested,” she said. “The first year we did this, many people thought their extinguisher was fine but then we had them go out and test it on a real fire.

“A lot of them didn’t work — it does make a difference to keep them updated.”

Shanks should know, she’s been involved with fire extinguishers since she was three years old.

“It was dad’s (Reg) hobby,” she said. “Then he started the company and I bought him out eight years ago.”

She recommends a five-pound ABC extinguisher, all metal.

“They’re pretty much multi-use,” she said. “And the government won’t let us certify anything that’s plastic.

“In a five-pound, you have five to 10 seconds of powder at 585 psi.”

But they have to be kept in good working order, through certification.

“You’d be amazed what it does, when you need it,” she said.

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