In some cases, OSHA requires employers to have fire extinguishers at work, and in other cases, employers will choose to provide fire extinguishers. In either scenario, if a company will place portable fire extinguishers in the workplace, it’s important to know OSHA requirements covering mounting fire extinguishers and fire extinguisher placement as well as as OSHA fire extinguisher signage requirements.
We’ll cover each of those three issues–fire extinguisher mounting height, fire extinguisher placement, and fire extinguisher signage requirements–in this article.
OSHA Fire Extinguisher Mounting Height, Placement & Signage Requirements
Let’s look at the OSHA requirements for each of these issues.
OSHA Fire Extinguisher Placement
The issue of fire extinguisher placement requirements from OSHA begins with cases in which OSHA requires the employer to have portable fire extinguishers and/or the employer decides to.
If portable fire extinguishers will be present, 1910.157(c)(1) lays down the first requirement:
So the key issue above is “readily accessible to employees without subjecting the employees to possible injury.” Please note this is assuming the employer allows employees to use the extinguishers.
The next concern about fire extinguisher placement is the distance the employee has to travel to reach an extinguisher. This is based on the type of extinguisher (and/or the Class of fire it can put out), as listed below.
Placement of portable fire extinguishers for Class A fires
Portable fire extinguishers must be placed so that the travel distance for employees to any extinguisher is 75 feet or less. — see 1910157(d)(2)
In addition, here’s what an OSHA Evacuation Plans and Procedures eTool (on the Extinguisher Placement and Spacing page) says regarding extinguishers for Class A fires:
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that locations such as offices, classrooms, and assembly halls that contain mainly Class A combustible materials have one 2-A extinguisher for every 3,000 square feet. [Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers (NFPA 10 (2010), Table 126.96.36.199, Fire Extinguisher Size and Placement for Class A Hazards)].
OSHA requires that all employees have access to an extinguisher within 75 feet travel-distance. [29 CFR 1910.157(d)(2)]
NOTE: Uniformly spaced standpipe systems or hose stations connected to a sprinkler system for emergency use can be used instead of Class A portable fire extinguishers, if they meet the respective requirements of 29 CFR 1910.158 or 29 CFR 1910.159, provide total coverage of the area to be protected, and employees are trained at least annually in their use. [29 CFR 1910.157(d)(3)]
Placement of portable fire extinguishers for Class B fires
Portable fire extinguishers must be placed so that the travel distance for employees to any extinguisher is 50 feet or less.– see 1910.157(d)(4)
In addition, here’s what an OSHA Evacuation Plans and Procedures eTool (on the Extinguisher Placement and Spacing page) says regarding extinguishers for Class B fires:
Hazard Extinguisher Spacing Light (Low)
Small amounts of flammable liquids used for copy machines, art departments, etc., that are stored safely and kept in closed containers.
5-B 30 feet 10-B 50 feet Ordinary (Moderate)
The total amount of flammable liquids are present in greater amounts than expected under low-hazard locations. This can include garages, workshops, or support service areas.
10-B 30 feet 20-B 50 feet Extra (High)
Locations where flammable liquids are present and used in large quantities. This includes areas used for storage, production, woodworking (finishing), vehicle repair, aircraft and boat servicing, or where painting, dipping, and coating, operations are performed with flammable liquids.
40-B 30 feet 80-B 50 feet
OSHA notes they’ve adapted this information above from “Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers,” NFPA 10 (2010), Table 188.8.131.52, Fire Extinguisher Size and Placement for Class B Hazards
Placement of portable fire extinguishers Class C fires
Here, OSHA says “The employer shall distribute portable fire extinguishers used for Class C hazards on the basis of the appropriate pattern for the existing Class A or Class B hazards.”– see 1910.157(d)(5)
Placement of portable fire extinguishers for Class D fires
OSHA has a little more to say for Class D fires. Here’s what they say: “The employer shall distribute portable fire extinguishers or other containers of Class D extinguishing agent for use by employees so that the travel distance from the combustible metal working area to any extinguishing agent is 75 feet (22.9 m) or less. Portable fire extinguishers for Class D hazards are required in those combustible metal working areas where combustible metal powders, flakes, shavings, or similarly sized products are generated at least once every two weeks.”– see 1910.157(d)(6)
Placement of portable fire extinguishers for Class K fires
The placement of extinguishers for Class K fires isn’t directly covered the 1910 OSHA regulation, but is addressed in an OSHA Evacuation Plans and Procedures eTool (on the Extinguisher Placement and Spacing page). Here’s what that eTool says:
Locations where potential fire hazards from combustible cooking media (vegetable or animal oils and fats) exist must install Class K extinguishers at a maximum travel distance of 30 feet. [NFPA 10, Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers. See Section 6.6, Installations for Class K Hazards]
Americans with Disabilities Act & Fire Extinguisher Placement Issues
Although we’re focusing on OSHA regulations concerning fire extinguishers, remember that you may also have to consider things like local building codes, NFPA requirements (check NFPA 10), and even the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
According to the ADA, if an object is mounted to the wall (like fire extinguishers often are), and their leading edges are located between 27 inches and 80 inches above the finished floor, the mounted object can protrude no more than four inches into walkways, corridors, passageways, or aisles. This is at least one reason why you’ll often see fire extinguishers inside recessed cabinets within a wall instead of mounted on the wall and sticking out into a traffic way.
OSHA Fire Extinguisher Mounting Height Requirements
Now let’s turn our attention to fire extinguisher mounting height requirements.
If you go back to 1910.157(c)(1), you’ll see all the OSHA regulation has to say on the issue of mounting height:
So the key in there is to make sure “they are readily accessible to employees without subjecting the employees to possible injury.”
To prevent fire extinguishers from being moved or damaged, they should be mounted on brackets or in wall cabinets with the carrying handle placed 3-1/2 to 5 feet above the floor. Larger fire extinguishers need to be mounted at lower heights with the carrying handle about 3 feet from the floor.
OSHA Fire Extinguisher Signage Requirements
And finally, let’s turn our attention to OSHA’s fire extinguisher signage requirements.
As we did before, let’s go back to 1910.157(c)(1). Here’s what OSHA says about signage requirements for fire extinguishers:
Notice there’s nothing specific about signage. All the 1910 regulation says is the portable fire extinguishes should be “identified.”
So here, you’re best off following good-old common sense. Place a sign or something similar that makes it easy for people to know where an extinguisher is/extinguishes are. Consider placing it so it can be seen well from up close, at a distance, and from different angles. And make sure there’s nothing that obstructs a person’s view of the extinguisher and/or the sign (such as a pile of boxes, machinery, or an open door).
Additional Articles About Fire Extinguishers That May Interest You
In addition to this article, you may find the following articles related to fire safety and fire extinguishers helpful:
- OSHA Fire Extinguisher Safety Training Requirements
- How to Use a Fire Extinguisher – Step by Step Guide
- Types of Fire Extinguishers – Which One To Buy
- How to Pass an OSHA Fire Extinguisher Inspection
Finally, you may want to consider our online fire extinguisher safety training video. We’ve included a short sample of it immediately below.
The Wrap Up: OSHA Fire Extinguisher Mounting Height, Placement & Signage Requirements
We hope this answered some of your questions about fire extinguisher placement, signage, and mounting requirements. Please remember that fires are a real hazard, that every year people die from fires unnecessarily, and that with proper precaution and safety training we can all make sure a lot more people make it home from work alive and well.
Before you leave, please download our FREE ONLINE SAFETY TRAINING BUYER’S GUIDE CHECKLIST, BELOW.
Online Safety Training Buyer’s Guide Checklist
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