Fire, the Beast with a Thousand Mouths........



A Fire Threatens. What to do if a fire threatens your home:

 Dress in long sleeved cotton or wool clothes (i.e. not synthetic), with thick soled boots. Tie back long hair.

Plug downpipes with old rags and fill the guttering of your house with water. Wet the buildings roof. Preferably with a sprinkler, or someone with a hose just sitting up there, spraying.

 Fit screens to windows and close any shutters if you can.

 Gather children and pets inside. Place animals in carrier boxes NOW.

 Go inside and close all doors and windows.

 Use wet rags to block all gaps in doors and windows.

 Close blinds and curtains.

 Fill buckets, basins, bath and sink with water.

 Stay inside until the main fire has passed.

 Immediately inspect your property and put out any flames. Keep an eye on embers for at least 8 hours.


 Do not wait until the last moment to evacuate, when the fires are so close roads may be blocked by flames! Fire can jump roadways and move faster than a speeding car.

 If fires are close and you are sure they will reach your house, decide early if you are going to leave. Put a sign saying you have left in large letters on your front door.

 If you do stay you may save your house. You will also be in a better environment to survive than should flames overtake you on the open road.


Notice I have put up outside my front door.

In case of fire please rescue my 2 house bound cats. Thankyou


Fire Safety: Taken from a paper I did for the laboratory where I work.


The extent of a fire will determine which steps you take in dealing with it. Whether you fight the fire or seek the nearest escape route depends on the fire. Do not take risks, personal safety is the most important thing. Seeking help may be the best option, better than battling the fire on your own and being overcome.


1) Yell, get someone else's attention. Hit a fire bell if available and if it is not too dangerous to get to.

2) Smother small fires with something non flammable i.e. tin tray, sand, wet paper towels, lab coat, fire blanket or oven mitt. Do not forget to turn off any electrical goods at the power point first. And make sure you get all the embers out before you stop.

3) Bigger fires with a one or two person capability will need fire extinguishes, make sure you use the right one for the job. Go for the fire hoses if large areas need to be wet down.

4) Remove injured from the area. Stay close to the ground if there is heavy smoke and cover your mouth and nose with a wet cloth.

5) Close doors and vents to help cut the oxygen supply.

6) If alone call the supervisor to notify of a small fire, but 000 direct if a large one. To keep emergency lines open, if there is time, call the fire brigade/ambulance directly. Someone else may need them more and it could cost a life if you tie up the line with an exploding kettle and a hand scold.


Make it as brief but as relevant as possible.

6a) Give the exact location i.e. nearest highway/town; specific building on site etc.

6b) Number of casualties, if any, number of missing persons.

6c) Nature of injuries, i.e. if conscious/not, heavy bleeding, burns etc;

6d) Any other services needed i.e. SEC to cut electricity, gas experts, advise of the presence of chemicals at the site.

7) If forced to leave the building, turn off the emergency power overload switch, hit the fire alarm, call out to anyone in the offices and if there is time and the fire is not in the area, turn off the gas valves. Place the DO NOT ENTER signs on the doors. If fire doors are fitted follow the instructions on how to close them. Go to the pre-arranged emergency assembly area.


When you hear the bell head for the nearest exit. Do not go for your purse or wallet and do not assume it is a drill and get a coffee or cigarette. Leave, turning off any naked flames as you go. Report to the emergency assembly area. Check on the person who rang the bell, look for signs of shock, reassure each other that it will be all right.

Arrange a roll call, if some one is missing report it to the shift supervisor. Do not re-enter the building unless directed to do so, or without someone else's knowledge. Remember, if alone this could be your last chance to alert someone to the danger. Run to the nearest occupied building (one not on fire, obviously) and get help if necessary. If not alone, send someone to check at other likely evacuation spots for missing folk. Remain at the appointed area until authorised to leave i.e. by the emergency crew you phoned or your supervisor.

First Aid


Drop and roll. If assisting someone else, cover your mouth and nose to avoid breathing in flames or smoke. Smother flames using a blanket (safety if possible), lab coat or water - splash water from head down while they roll to avoid forcing flames near the face. If in a building retrieving someone overcome by smoke, stay close to the floor; cover nose and mouth with a wet cloth. Approach doors with care, beware heat on the other side. Find and use gas masks if possible.


Watch for signs of shock; shivering, cold clammy skin, fainting. If you feel you are about to be overcome lay down with your legs raised. Do not drink anything, moisten lips with a damp cloth or suck an ice chip if conscious. Loosen clothing and maintain body temperature i.e. not to hot or to cold. If someone does faint place them in the coma position. Reassure each other, even unconscious victims, as they may still hear you. Tell them help is on its way, that you will not leave them till it gets there, they will not be left on their own. Remember: Shock kills! Do not dismiss it, seek medical aid and keep an eye on each other.


INHALATION: Get patient to relax, to slow down and control their breathing. Undo belts or restrictive clothing. Beware - burning ash may also have been inhaled - do not give milk etc to drink, seek medical aid, look for signs of shock.

IN THE EYES: Do not rub them or attempt to remove grit or ash with tweezers. Bath eyes in saline or water, replace with fresh solutions as often as possible. Of course, eye baths are perfect for this, but a bowl or full sink will do.


SUPERFICAL: looks red, may blister. Wash with cold water to remove corrosives and bring down the burns temperature. Remove rings, bracelets etc. Apply a sterile dressing and bandage firmly. Do not prick blisters.

DEEP BURNS: looks yellowish white, weepy and does not feel very painful to the victim. Remove clothing by carefully cutting around and leaving any stuck items. Remove any rings, bracelets unless they are stuck like the clothing. Place affected area underwater till the wound reaches normal body temperature, this should take approximately 10 minutes. Do not put the burn under pressure while applying the water i.e. if using a hose place your hand a little in front of it to break the waters rush. This allows it to trickle on instead of slamming into the burn. Cover the burn in sterile non-stick dressing i.e. one layer of gladwrap, to prevent fluid loss. Alleviate pain by gently pouring cool (not cold or icy) water over the dressing. If patient is conscious and thirsty, give them small amounts of water to drink. Do not give alcohol or stimulants like coffee. Reassure the patient and keep an eye out for symptoms of shock.

NOTE: A fire is a traumatic event, keep an eye on each other as this may be the trigger for someone's weak heart to give out, or their asthma to get out of control. Heart attack takes out more fire fighters than anything else does. Be there for each other.


Three things are needed to maintain a fire.

1) Fuel - any oxidisable material.

2) Oxidant - usually air or oxygen, but it can be in chemical form.

3) A certain temperature - heat.

Remove any of these things and the fire will go out.

How it spreads.

1) Convection - spreading sparks about.

2) Radiates - so things near the fire heat up and combust.

3) Conduction - heat travels along an object i.e. a heated iron rod makes paper at the far end burn.


In general good fire prevention is closely associated with good house keeping. A neat, well-organized work area will help prevent fires.


a) Flammable waste accumulation. These are accidents waiting to happen. Piles of used paper towels left near a hot plate or acetone soaked rags near open flames are dangerous.

b) Heat producing equipment. i.e. copiers, word processors, strong lamps and light bulbs, or hot plates may need turning off when not supervised. Hot surfaces should be kept clear of other materials, i.e. do not store paper atop copier vents.

c) Damaged electrical cords. Keep cords away from doorways and walkways, replace them when frayed, cracked or cut. Disconnect and investigate electrical equipment that smokes or has unusual odour.

d) SMOKERS. 1d) In restricted places i.e. near gas ovens

2d) Disposing of partly lit butts.

e) Chemicals incorrectly stored. Acids with bases, corrosives in the wrong kind of containers, containers without lids or with leaks, incorrect labelling, build up of flammable condensation or vapours. Clear away spills carefully.


Use the correct one for the type of fire. Check the side for operational use. Check the gage is not in the red. If using a dry powder give the cylinder a gentle shake incase the powder has settled to the bottom. Holding the extinguisher upright, remove the pin. First spray to one side to check if the extinguisher is working and find out how far the jet goes. Have someone as back up if possible. You go in first, while the backup stands behind with an extra extinguisher, ready to come to your aid.

Approach a fire with the wind at your back. But be aware that the wind direction can change instantly. Stay as far back from the flames as the extinguishers jet will let you. Always have a clear line of retreat from the flames. Depress the trigger while aiming the nozzle at the base of the fire. Use a sweeping motion. Always hold the jet before you, like a shield, even if you can not see the flames and must aim approximately in their direction. The extinguishers jet, especially with the dry powder, will obscure your view, and it is better to keep spraying than to stop until you can see again, and risk walking into the flames. When the fire is out, do not put the extinguisher back where you found it, but hand it in for re filling.


TYPE Powder



AB (E) Dry Chemical

Red with White bands

Carbonaceous solids (wood, plastics etc) Flammable & combustible liquids (petrol, oil) Electrical. Flammable gas.

 Carbon Dioxide C02

Red with Black bands.

 Carbonaceous solids. Flammable and combustible liquids. Electrical. Cooking Oil.



 Carbonaceous solids. Flammable liquids. Flammable gases. Electrical.


FIRE Equipment:

For water hoses wear gloves and glasses if possible. Connect hose to tap, unwind carefully checking that there are no chinks. Turn the water on slowly, brace yourselves and aim at the base of the fire. A gentle spray is best to use on embers, but a full jet is best for a fire. It is essential that the outside emergency power override switch has been turned off before you use a hose inside and no electricity is available to the site. Do not use water if: -

a) It could hit live electrical wires or

b) It would spread fire born on oil, fat or gases.

Other fire equipment on site include; gas masks, asbestos gloves and safety blanket, safety showers, fire doors.

If you have a water tank on the back of a Ute for fire fighting, and most Australian farms do, there are several rules to follow. One, have the Ute in good condition, fuelled up, good tires, well maintained. Two have a CB radio installed, and learn how to use it. During the fire, only use the CB for fire updates; don't jam the airways chatting with your mate Lesley about the latest footy match.

Have a prearranged signal between the Ute's driver and the person operating the hose on the back to move away from the fire. The driver doesn't always feel the heat like the exposed person on the back does and will stray into the heated areas unknowingly.

If the driver doesn't hear and you are the hose operator - should sparks land on you or if you are getting burnt, turn the hose on yourself, cover your face with your shirt and turn your back towards the fire until out of danger.

Take breaks away from the fire regularly and drink lots of water. Let the people at the turn pike know where you are headed to fight the fire, just in case you break down. Don't drive over embers, you can blow a tire easy that way. Have extra water to drink in the Ute's cab.

Be safe.


Link to Black Friday info, the worst bushfire in Australian history, in which 71 people died.

See Here.


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