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  • Writer's pictureDr. Steven Horwitz

Fire Extinguishers

OSHA sets the following fire extinguisher requirements for general business.

  • Fire extinguishers must be accessible to employees without subjecting them to possible injury.

  • Only OSHA-approved fire extinguishers may be used.

  • Fire extinguishers must be charged, operational and in their designated place when not in use.

  • Fire extinguishers that use carbon tetrachloride or chlorobromomethane are prohibited.

  • Do not use soldered or riveted shell self-generating soda acid, foam or gas cartridge water-type fire extinguishers that operate by rupturing the cartridge or generating chemical reactions to expel the extinguishing agent.

OSHA sets additional requirements for training and inspection.

  • Employees are prohibited from handling portable fire extinguishers unless they have been trained in proper use.

  • Organizations are required to provide fire extinguisher training for employees when they are first hired and then at least once a year.

  • Visual inspections must be performed monthly on all portable fire extinguishers, but documentation is not required.

  • Annual portable fire extinguisher inspection is mandatory and must be documented.

These are the different classes of fire extinguishers.

  • Class A—Ordinary combustibles - paper, wood: A in a Triangle. Travel distance must be 75 feet or less.

  • Class B—Flammable liquids - gasoline, paint, diesel fuel: B in a Square. Travel distance must be 50 feet or less.

  • Class C—Electrical equipment. C in a Circle. The travel distance for a Class C fire extinguisher is determined by the A or B hazards present. For offices and warehouses with ordinary combustibles, a Class C extinguisher should follow Class A distance standards. If flammable liquids are present, use the Class B travel distance.

  • Class D—Combustible metal: D in a 5 pointed star. Travel distance must be 75 feet or less.

  • Class K—Combustible cooking oils & fats - K for Kitchen: Travel distance must be 30 feet or less.

OSHA has the following mounting requirements for portable fire extinguishers.

  • For all mounted fire extinguishers, the bottom of the extinguisher must be at least 4 inches off the ground.

  • If the extinguisher weighs more than 40 lbs., the top of the extinguisher must be no more than 3.5 feet off the ground

  • If the extinguisher weights less than 40 lbs., the top of the extinguisher must be no more than 5 feet off the ground

How to Use A Fire Extinguisher: PASS

  • P: PULL the pin

  • A: AIM at the base of the fire

  • S: SQUEEZE the handle

  • S: SWEEP side to side

Resources: OSHA

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