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Fire Extinguisher Requirements - OSHA

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  • Fire Extinguisher Requirements - OSHA

    Hello everyone,

    I am hoping someone here has an answer for me before I make a call to OSHA and sound like an idiot.

    I have a question regarding the following OSHA requirements for fire extinguishers, specifically to the "notification" part of the requirement.

    The employer shall provide portable fire extinguishers and shall mount, locate and identify them so that they are readily accessible to employees without subjecting the employees to possible injury.

    In regards to the identification of the fire extinguishers, am I correct in that it means there needs to be some form of signage indicating where the fire extinguishers are? Such as a fire extinguisher sign like this

    or a sticker such as this?

    The problem at my building is we have over 200 fire extinguishers, yet only the ones in the parking ramp are marked, the ones inside the building are not and the facilities manager doesn't want them because according to him they look tacky. Yet people don't know where the fire extinguishers are because alot of the fire extinguisher cabinets are painted as the same color as the wall they are mounted in.
    Last edited by Maxx102; 06-08-2009, 02:28 PM.

  • #2
    Normally fire extinguishers are placed so that you don't have to travel more than 50-75 feet (depending on the class.....A,B,C) to get to one.

    You would place the signage above the extinguisher (to "point" to the FE location...and make it visible at 360 degrees of view) at whatever height is required for the extinguisher to be seen at the maximum distance.
    In a warehouse for instances; the signage might be mounted 20 ft. high in a warehouse with a very high ceiling.
    Last edited by sec-guy; 06-08-2009, 02:50 PM. Reason: ugly paragraph


    • #3
      I just need to know if signage is required. From what I can see, OSHA requires it. I can get the details on how high up it has to be later.


      • #4
        OSHA requires the signage. Your facilities manager needs to be schooled. If OSHA does an inspection, "tacky" for an excuse won't cut it. I've also seen Fire Inspectors give out violation notices for the lack of signage.
        Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
        Co-Author - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

        Contributor to Retail Crime, Security and Loss Prevention: An Encyclopedic Reference


        • #5
          Actually, OSHA cut-and-pasted National Fire Code; if you want the full regs., just google NFC, portable fire extinguishers.

          The basics have been covered here already: no more than 75 ft travel to a unit in any direction; minimum rating 5 ABC for industry (not specialized use, such as combustible metals machining or electrical control center); mounted in such a way as to be readily accessible, clearly visible, and at specified height; clearly marked/posted; monthly documented inspections; annual services up-to-date.

          In another life, I was a fire inspector. Yes, NFC says they MUST be posted. There are NO acceptable "reasons" (read: "excuses"). And if the local fire department doesn't tag the facility management, OSHA will.
          "I'll defend with my life your right to disagree with me" - anonymous


          • #6
            Thank you everyone, that is exactly what I had thought but I wanted to double check.

            As far as monthy inspections and annual services I am not worried as it our depart that does them, except for December when the fire services company comes in and inspects them, replaces the inspection tags with new ones, & replaces non-functional ones when needed.

            I only brought this up because when I was doing the inspection for my tower (we have multiple buildings) a employee came up to me and asked what I was doing. I informed her that I was doing our required monthly inspection of the fire extinguishers and she said "oh, ok. That's good but it would be nice if there were signs or something. I've been her for over two years and I didn't even knew we had them."
            Last edited by Maxx102; 06-09-2009, 08:56 AM.


            • #7
              Great question!. The subject of Fire Extinguishers will never end. Great answers also. We can learn alot from these guys. Its interesting how some peoples perceptions of cosmetics are always more important than life safety. I deal with this on a continual bases, such as painted curbs, stop signs, the radio antenna on top of the hospital etc. It reminds me of the time our facility was posting for a Safety and Security Manager and they had a couple of great prospects (as far as a resume is concerned) that looked very promising. The interviews were going great until they were asked about the uniforms and the first thing that they would do if hired was get rid of the uniforms, the K-9s and TASERS. Both prospects were ex LE. These comments totaly blew us out fo the water. Needless to say they didn't get the job and we have darn good manager that holds people to the fire when it comes to safety. Some of the other department managers don't like him, but I can proudly tell you that the Safety and Security Department passed our Joint Commission Inspection with flying colors. We are the ones that were holding the records for FE inspections and Fire Drills.
              I am Nobody
              Nobody is Perfect
              Therefore I am Perfect


              • #8
                Update for everyone.

                I made a polite inquiry to one of the faciltiy managers as to why we didn't have the signs up and he said we didn't need to. I asked if he was sure and he said if something changed, to let him know so I found the OSHA requirement

                General requirements
                An employer must:
                Provide portable fire extinguishers and mount, locate, and identify them so that they are readily accessible to employees without subjecting the employees to possible injury [29 CFR 1910.157

                Well the response I received that said we didn't need them was because of these two exemptions.

                Where the employer has established and implemented a written fire safety policy which requires the immediate and total evacuation of employees from the workplace upon the sounding of a fire alarm signal and which includes an emergency action plan and a fire prevention plan which meet the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.38 and 29 CFR 1910.39 respectively, and when extinguishers are not available in the workplace, the employer is exempt from all requirements of this section unless a specific standard in part 1910 requires that a portable fire extinguisher be provided.

                Where the employer has an emergency action plan meeting the requirements of 1910.38 which designates certain employees to be the only employees authorized to use the available portable fire extinguishers, and which requires all other employees in the fire area to immediately evacuate the affected work area upon the sounding of the fire alarm, the employer is exempt from the distribution requirements in paragraph (d) of this section.

                Because we have a mandate for all employees to leave once the fire alarms go of and because we have designated employees who respond who are authorized to use the extinguishers , we don't need the signs.

                I asked who are designated employees and I was told - the engineers, which is fine and dandy except their is one small problem - the engineers are not here 24/7. I brought that up and basically told to "mind my own business" and that everything we did was ok'd by the local fire department.


                • #9
                  Maxx102, you did your part (actually, most would consider it a bit above and beyond): You observed a potential problem/liability, and you took it upon yourself to conduct the research and follow up.

                  If management chooses to go this direction with their plan (personally, I never liked those exemptions; they're basically unworkable in the Real World of a fire incident), then it's their decision.

                  Good job, and time to let them deal with any adverse results down the road.
                  "I'll defend with my life your right to disagree with me" - anonymous


                  • #10
                    I'll just bet, if you have that exemption you're required to have annual fire evacuation drills. I have a buck says they don't

                    I wonder what their insurance company thinks about that policy.


                    • #11
                      Maxx102, ensure you have written records indicating when and to whom you made your concerns known. You will always find leaders who will confront you with, "You did not raise it to my conscience level of attention."
                      I know it sounds lame and it is but trust me, that excuse, not a reason, has been used more than once in both my military and civilian careers.
                      Don't get a guilt complex about dropping a dime on them; do it in a discreet manner. Care must be taken not to lose your head (XXX) to prove a point.
                      Enjoy the day,