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Legal Requirements for Fire Extinguishers

Updated April 17, 2017

According to the Office of Compliance, Safety and Health, "OSHA regulations preclude an employee who is not properly trained from using any portable fire extinguisher." Potential fire hazards require you to be prepared at all times for an emergency. Following the legal requirements for fire extinguishers could possibly save someone's life or valuables.

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Location of Fire Extinguishers

Extinguishers should always be placed where the fire risk is greatest in the workplace and home. Ideal locations for fire extinguishers are near an exit, high on a wall, out of children's reach, away from heat sources, no more than 75 feet away from a Class A hazard and no more than 50 feet away from a Class B hazard.

Types of Fire Extinguishers and Fire Classes

Fire extinguishers used at home or in the workplace are required to use either a dry chemical powder or carbon dioxide. There are specific fire extinguishers for specific types or classes of fire. Dry chemical, wet chemical and pressurised water extinguishers can be used to put out Class A fires. Class A fires contain regular combustibles such as wood, cloth and paper. Dry chemical and carbon dioxide extinguishers can be used to put out Class B fires, which contain flammable liquids such as gasoline and oil. Class C fires, or electrical fires, can also be put out with dry chemical and carbon dioxide extinguishers. Wet chemical and carbon dioxide extinguishers are used to put out Class K fires, which contain food products such as cooking oils and animal fats.

Maintenance and Inspection

According to the Office of Compliance, Safety and Health, the National Fire Protection Association requires all portable extinguishers to be inspected on a monthly basis. Also, a fire protection company must maintain the extinguisher on an annual basis. The monthly inspection includes making sure that the extinguisher has adequate pressure to function, that the extinguisher is in its proper location and that there are no defects to the extinguisher.

Training and Accessibility

Anyone expected to use a fire extinguisher in the workplace must be properly trained to do so. The extinguisher must be accessible to the trained employees. This means that the fire extinguisher cannot be covered by anything, because inaccessibility could allow a small fire to grow.

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About the Author

A family therapist and graduate of the University of Louisville, Tyran DeWalt has written relationship and holistic self-care practice advice for close to a decade. DeWalt relishes in being able to combine his zeal for writing and his commitment to assisting people manage everyday life challenges.

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