Fire Related FAQs

Fire patrols and dealing with fire emergencies are very much a part of a security officer's duties. Thus, a basic understanding of duties and expectations is necessary. A large knowledge base or professional firefighting skills are not needed nor desirable for the first responder as the primary expectation is that you will raise the alarm and notify the professionals. Let them handle any but the smallest of blazes. Your focus is on ensuring the safety and well being of all persons in the area.

The following questions should cover what then would be the 'minimum expectations and duties' required of security personnel.

What is the cause of most major fires?

Careless smoking is the number one cause.

What must you do to combat a fire?

Small fires may be extinguished with a portable fire extinguisher only if there is not a threat to life.
Direct the spray to the base of the fire to smother and cool the burning mass.
Use all of the contents because it must be emptied to be refilled properly.
Never place a used fire extinguisher back in service until it has been refilled.

What are some of the fire fighting systems common in most industries?

Sprinkler Systems
Fire Doors
Fire Extinguishers
Fire Alarms

If a fire can not safely be fought, what steps should you take?

Evacuate the area.
Notify the fire department.
Provide access to the fire department.
Standby to offer assistance as directed by the fire captain.

Fires fall into four classes. Explain each.

Class A-- Ordinary combustible materials such as paper, wood, furniture, and rags. Water or water fog will effectively fight these fires by lowering the entire mass of materials to below the ignition point.

Class B-- Volatile liquids such as gasoline, grease, and oil. Such liquids are present in various quantities in every facility. To extinguish such a fire, a smothering effect such as that achieved with carbon dioxide (Co2) is required.

Class C-- Fires in live electrical equipment such as transformers and generators. A non-conductive extinguishing agent such as dry chemical must be used.

Class D-- Combustible metals, such as magnesium, sodium, and potassium. Dry chemical extinguishers must be used.

What are the four stages of fire?

Incipient—Invisible products of combustion are given off, no flame or smoke is visible.

Smoldering—Smoke is now visible, no flames or appreciable heat.

Flame—The fire is born. Flame and smoke are now visible, however, heat is still low.

Heat—Heat is intense and growing rapidly, air is heated and expanding.

What are your two most common types of sprinkler systems?

Wet Systems
Dry Systems

As I said only a basic knowledge of fires, fire alarms and appropriate fire emergency responses are expected or required or the security professional but the information I've listed here is usually considered 'must know' material.

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