following are some important fire extinguisher regulations:
10: Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers
Scope. The provisions of this standard apply to the selection,
installation, inspection, maintenance, and testing of portable
extinguishing equipment. 1.1.1 Portable fire extinguishers are
intended as a first line of defense to cope with fires of limited
size. 1.1.2 The selection and installation of extinguishers
is independent of whether the building is equipped with automatic
sprinklers, standpipe and hose, or other fixed protection equipment.
(See 5.5.5, 22.214.171.124, 126.96.36.199, and 188.8.131.52.) 1.1.3 The requirements
given herein are minimum. 1.1.4 The requirements do not apply
to permanently installed systems for fire extinguishment, even
where portions of such systems are portable (such as hose and
nozzles attached to a fixed supply of extinguishing agent).
REGS on PORTABLE FIRE EXTINGUISHERS
Portable fire extinguishers.
Scope and application. The scope and application of this
section is written to apply to three basic types of workplaces.
First, there are those workplaces where the employer has chosen
to evacuate all employees from the workplace at the time of
a fire emergency. Second, there are those workplaces where the
employer has chosen to permit certain employees to fight fires
and to evacuate all other non-essential employees at the time
of a fire emergency. Third, there are those workplaces where
the employer has chosen to permit all employees in the workplace
to use portable fire extinguishers to fight fires.
The section also addresses two kinds of work areas. The entire
workplace can be divided into outside (exterior) work areas
and inside (interior) work areas. This division of the workplace
into two areas is done in recognition of the different types
of hazards employees may be exposed to during fire fighting
operations. Fires in interior workplaces, pose a greater hazard
to employees; they can produce greater exposure to quantities
of smoke, toxic gases, and heat because of the capability of
a building or structure to contain or entrap these products
of combustion until the building can be ventilated. Exterior
work areas, normally open to the environment, are somewhat less
hazardous, because the products of combustion are generally
carried away by the thermal column of the fire. Employees also
have a greater selection of evacuation routes if it is necessary
to abandon fire fighting efforts.
In recognition of the degree of hazard present in the two types
of work areas, the standards for exterior work areas are somewhat
less restrictive in regards to extinguisher distribution. Paragraph
(a) explains this by specifying which paragraphs in the section
2. Portable fire extinguisher exemptions. In recognition
of the three options given to employers in regard to the amount
of employee evacuation to be carried out, the standards permit
certain exemptions based on the number of employees expected
to use fire extinguishers.
Where the employer has chosen to totally evacuate the workplace
at the time of a fire emergency and when fire extinguishers
are not provided, the requirements of this section do not apply
to that workplace.
Where the employer has chosen to partially evacuate the workplace
or the effected area at the time of a fire emergency and has
permitted certain designated employees to remain behind to operate
critical plant operations or to fight fires with extinguishers,
then the employer is exempt from the distribution requirements
of this section. Employees who will be remaining behind to perform
incipient fire fighting or members of a fire brigade must be
trained in their duties. The training must result in the employees
becoming familiar with the locations of fire extinguishers.
Therefore, the employer must locate the extinguishers in convenient
locations where the employees know they can be found. For example,
they could be mounted in the fire truck or cart that the fire
brigade uses when it responds to a fire emergency. They can
also be distributed as set forth in the National Fire Protection
Association's Standard No. 10, "Portable Fire Extinguishers."
Where the employer has decided to permit all employees in the
workforce to use fire extinguishers, then the entire OSHA section
3. Portable fire extinguisher mounting. Previous standards
for mounting fire extinguishers have been criticized for requiring
specific mounting locations. In recognition of this criticism,
the standard has been rewritten to permit as much flexibility
in extinguisher mounting as is acceptable to assure that fire
extinguishers are available when needed and that employees are
not subjected to injury hazards when they try to obtain an extinguisher.
It is the intent of OSHA to permit the mounting of extinguishers
in any location that is accessible to employees without the
use of portable devices such as a ladder. This limitation is
necessary because portable devices can be moved or taken from
the place where they are needed and, therefore, might not be
available at the time of an emergency.
Employers are given as much flexibility as possible to assure
that employees can obtain extinguishers as fast as possible.
For example, an acceptable method of mounting extinguishers
in areas where fork lift trucks or tow-motors are used is to
mount the units on retractable boards which, by means of counterweighting,
can be raised above the level where they could be struck by
vehicular traffic. When needed, they can be lowered quickly
for use. This method of mounting can also reduce vandalism and
unauthorized use of extinguishers. The extinguishers may also
be mounted as outlined in the National Fire Protection Association's
Standard No. 10, "Portable Fire Extinguishers."
4. Selection and distribution. The employer is responsible
for the proper selection and distribution of fire extinguishers
and the determination of the necessary degree of protection.
The selection and distribution of fire extinguishers must reflect
the type and class of fire hazards associated with a particular
Extinguishers for protecting Class A hazards may be selected
from the following types: water, foam, loaded stream, or multipurpose
dry chemical. Extinguishers for protecting Class B hazards may
be selected from the following types: Halon 1301, Halon 1211,
carbon dioxide, dry chemicals, foam, or loaded stream. Extinguishers
for Class C hazards may be selected from the following types:
Halon 1301, Halon 1211, carbon dioxide, or dry chemical.
Combustible metal (Class D hazards) fires pose a different type
of fire problem in the workplace. Extinguishers using water,
gas, or certain dry chemicals cannot extinguish or control this
type of fire. Therefore, certain metals have specific dry powder
extinguishing agents which can extinguish or control this type
of fire. Those agents which have been specifically approved
for use on certain metal fires provide the best protection;
however, there are also some "universal" type agents
which can be used effectively on a variety of combustible metal
fires if necessary. The "universal" type agents include:
Foundry flux, Lith-X powder, TMB liquid, pyromet powder, TEC
powder, dry talc, dry graphite powder, dry sand, dry sodium
chloride, dry soda ash, lithium chloride, zirconium silicate,
and dry dolomite.
Water is not generally accepted as an effective extinguishing
agent for metal fires. When applied to hot burning metal, water
will break down into its basic atoms of oxygen and hydrogen.
This chemical breakdown contributes to the combustion of the
metal. However, water is also a good universal coolant and can
be used on some combustible metals, but only under proper conditions
and application, to reduce the temperature of the burning metal
below the ignition point. For example, automatic deluge systems
in magnesium plants can discharge such large quantities of water
on burning magnesium that the fire will be extinguished. The
National Fire Protection Association has specific standards
for this type of automatic sprinkler system. Further information
on the control of metal fires with water can be found in the
National Fire Protection Association's Fire Protection Handbook.
An excellent source of selection and distribution criteria is
found in the National Fire Protection Association's Standard
No. 10. Other sources of information include the National Safety
Council and the employer's fire insurance carrier.
5. Substitution of standpipe systems for portable fire extinguishers.
The employer is permitted to substitute acceptable standpipe
systems for portable fire extinguishers under certain circumstances.
It is necessary to assure that any substitution will provide
the same coverage that portable units provide. This means that
fire hoses, because of their limited portability, must be spaced
throughout the protected area so that they can reach around
obstructions such as columns, machinery, etc. and so that they
can reach into closets and other enclosed areas.
6. Inspection, maintenance and testing. The ultimate
responsibility for the inspection, maintenance and testing of
portable fire extinguishers lies with the employer. The actual
inspection, maintenance, and testing may, however, be conducted
by outside contractors with whom the employer has arranged to
do the work. When contracting for such work, the employer should
assure that the contractor is capable of performing the work
that is needed to comply with this standard.
If the employer should elect to perform the inspection, maintenance,
and testing requirements of this section in-house, then the
employer must make sure that those persons doing the work have
been trained to do the work and to recognize problem areas which
could cause an extinguisher to be inoperable. The National Fire
Protection Association provides excellent guidelines in its
standard for portable fire extinguishers. The employer may also
check with the manufacturer of the unit that has been purchased
and obtain guidelines on inspection, maintenance, and testing.
Hydrostatic testing is a process that should be left to contractors
or individuals using suitable facilities and having the training
necessary to perform the work.
Anytime the employer has removed an extinguisher from service
to be checked or repaired, alternate equivalent protection must
be provided. Alternate equivalent protection could include replacing
the extinguisher with one or more units having equivalent or
equal ratings, posting a fire watch, restricting the unprotected
area from employee exposure, or providing a hose system ready
7. Hydrostatic testing. As stated before, the employer
may contract for hydrostatic testing. However, if the employer
wishes to provide the testing service, certain equipment and
facilities must be available. Employees should be made aware
of the hazards associated with hydrostatic testing and the importance
of using proper guards and water pressures. Severe injury can
result if extinguisher shells fail violently under hydrostatic
Employers are encouraged to use contractors who can perform
adequate and reliable service. Firms which have been certified
by the Materials Transportation Board (MTB) of the U.S. Department
of Transportation (DOT) or State licensed extinguisher servicing
firms or recognized by the National Association of Fire Equipment
Distributors in Chicago, Illinois, are generally acceptable
for performing this service.
8. Training and education. This part of the standard
is of the utmost importance to employers and employees if the
risk of injury or death due to extinguisher use is to be reduced.
If an employer is going to permit an employee to fight a workplace
fire of any size, the employer must make sure that the employee
knows everything necessary to assure the employee's safety.
Training and education can be obtained through many channels.
Often, local fire departments in larger cities have fire prevention
bureaus or similar organizations which can provide basic fire
prevention training programs. Fire insurance companies will
have data and information available. The National Fire Protection
Association and the National Safety Council will provide, at
a small cost, publications that can be used in a fire prevention
Actual fire fighting training can be obtained from various sources
in the country. The Texas A & M University, the University
of Maryland's Fire and Rescue Institute, West Virginia University's
Fire Service Extension, Iowa State University's Fire Service
Extension and other State training schools and land grant colleges
have fire fighting programs directed to industrial applications.
Some manufacturers of extinguishers, such as the Ansul Company
and Safety First, conduct fire schools for customers in the
proper use of extinguishers. Several large corporations have
taken time to develop their own on-site training programs which
expose employees to the actual "feeling" of fire fighting.
Simulated fires for training of employees in the proper use
of extinguishers are also an acceptable part of a training program.
In meeting the requirements of this section, the employer may
also provide educational materials, without classroom instruction,
through the use of employee notice campaigns using instruction
sheets or flyers or similar types of informal programs. The
employer must make sure that employees are trained and educated
to recognize not only what type of fire is being fought and
how to fight it, but also when it is time to get away from it
and leave fire suppression to more experienced fire fighters.
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