Most employers have portable fire extinguishers in their facilities. And many employers have questions about those fire extinguishers. Questions such as:
What is the required clearance in front of fire extinguishers? Neither OSHA nor NFPA have a definitive area that must remain clear in front of fire extinguishers. At 1910.157(c)(1), OSHA states only that you shall "mount, locate and identify (fire extinguishers) so that they are readily accessible to employees without subjecting the employees to possible injury."
NFPA 10 Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers states that fire extinguishers "shall be....readily accessible and immediately available in the event of fire." And also that "Fire extinguishers shall not be obstructed or obscured from view."
Do we have to inspect and service the fire extinguishers every year?
OSHA states at 1910.157(e)(1) that "The employer shall be responsible for the inspection, maintenance, and testing of all portable fire extinguishers in the workplace." And at 1910.157(e)(2) OSHA states that portable extinguishers shall be visually inspected monthly.
1910.157(e)(3) reads that you "shall assure that portable fire extinguishers are subjected to an annual maintenance check. Stored pressure extinguishers do not require an internal examination. The employer shall record the annual maintenance date and retain this record for one year after the last entry or the life of the shell, whichever is less."
At what height does OSHA say fire extinguishers are to be mounted?
At 1910.157(c)(1) OSHA states only that you shall "mount, locate and identify (fire extinguishers) so that they are readily accessible to employees without subjecting the employees to possible injury."
NFPA 10 Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers states that units weighing 40 lbs. or less be installed such that the top of the unit is not more than five feet above the floor. For units weighing more than 40 pounds, the top of the unit should be no more than 3.5 feet above the floor. There should always be at least four inches between the bottom of the unit and the floor. So if your local or state authorities have adopted NFPA 10, then you must follow these requirements.
What has to be included in training employees to fight incipient stage fires? In a Letter of Interpretation date 09/12/1986 OSHA states of training employees to fight incipient stage fires that "In meeting the requirements of these standards, the employer may provide educational materials, without classroom instruction, through the use of employee notice campaigns using instruction sheets or flyers or similar types of informal programs; or he may provide on site training which exposes employees to the actual "feeling" of fire fighting by simulated fires for training employees in the proper use of extinguishers."
Any of these questions sound familiar? Or do you have other fire extinguisher related questions?
KellerOnline's Topic Index can provide you with a lot of helpful information. In the topic, Fire Extinguishers – General Industries, there are several ez Explanations, best practice articles, frequently asked questions and regulations.
The topic also provides you with several OSHA Letters of Interpretation - including one dated 03/15/1995, in which OSHA addresses labeling of fire extinguishers. You'll also find a variety of Employee Videos, Audit Checklists and safety training materials that can assist you.
Check out the Topic Index in KellerOnline – and see if we don't answer your questions. If you still have questions, submit it via the Personal Assistant feature (you'll receive a response within one business day) or in the Member Discussions.
For more information, visit the J.J. Keller & Associates Web site at www.jjkeller.com.