OSHA Fire Extinguisher Safety Training Requirements + Video Resources

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Wondering what the OSHA fire extinguisher training requirements are for employers? If so, then this is the article you’ve been waiting for.

We’ll tell you what employers have to give fire extinguisher training to employees, why, and what kind of fire extinguisher safety training, if any, they have to provide.

So if you’re ready to learn more about all things related to OSHA fire extinguisher training, read on.

Does the Employer Need to Provide Fire Extinguisher Training? Four Options

The OSHA fire extinguisher training requirements aren’t the same for every company. Instead, fire extinguisher safety training requirements differ based on fire emergency action plan, emergency evacuation, and fire fighting policies at each specific company.

OSHA recognizes four different general fire evacuation and firefighting policies for companies, and the OSHA fire extinguisher training requirements kick in based on the company’s choice. Here are those four options and how they affect a company’s emergency action plan and fire extinguisher training.

These fire extinguisher options are listed below, but are also nicely covered in this OSHA Fire Extinguisher FAQ page.

Fire Evacuation & Fighting Policy Option 1: Total Evacuation and No Portable Fire Extinguishers

This option is for companies that require all employees to immediately evacuate the workplace when a fire alarm sounds.

No employees are authorized to use portable fire extinguishers in this case, and in fact there are NO portable fire extinguishers.

These employers must establish an emergency action plan and a fire prevention plan, and must train employees appropriately.

See  29 CFR 1910.157(b)(1) for more information about this option.

Fire Evacuation & Fighting Policy Option 2: Only Designated Employees Can Use Portable Fire Extinguishers

This option is for companies that do have portable fire extinguishers but allow only certain, designated employees to use them to fight fires.

Other than the employees designated to use portable fire extinguishers, all other employees must evacuate when any fire alarm sounds.

These companies must establish an emergency action plan and a fire prevention plan, and must train employees appropriately. In addition, they must meet all general fire extinguisher requirements (this includes inspection, testing, and maintenance), and they must provide annual fire extinguisher safety training to the employees designated to use the extinguishers.

See 29 CFR 1910.157(b)(2) for more information about this option.

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Fire Evacuation & Fighting Policy Option 3: All Employees Authorized to Use Portable Fire Extinguishers

This option is for companies that do have portable fire extinguishers and allow ALL employees to use them to fight fires.

If any employees will evacuate at the sound of fire alarms, the company must establish an emergency action plan and train employees accordingly.

All employees must receive annual fire extinguisher safety training that teaches them to use the fire extinguishers.

In addition, the company must meet all general fire extinguisher requirements (this includes inspection, testing, and maintenance), and they must provide annual fire extinguisher safety training to the employees designated to use the extinguishers.

See 29 CFR 1910.157(b)(2)  for more information about this option.

Fire Evacuation & Fighting Policy Option 4: Extinguishers Provided but Not Intended for Employee Use

This option is for companies that do have portable fire extinguishers, but those extinguishers are not intended for employee use.

These companies must establish an emergency action plan and train employees accordingly.

In addition, the company must meet all general fire extinguisher requirements (this includes inspection, testing, and maintenance), and they must provide annual fire extinguisher safety training to the employees designated to use the extinguishers.

See 29 CFR 1910.157(a)  for more information about this option.

Emergency Action Plans

Although the focus of this article is on the fire extinguisher training OSHA requires, you can see the issue of the company’s emergency action plan is closely related. If you’re looking for additional help on creating an emergency action plan or training your employees about your emergency action plan, you may find this online emergency action plan course helpful.

OSHA Fire Extinguisher Training Requirements Based on Evacuation and Fire Fighting Options Listed Above

The kind of fire extinguisher safety training a company will have to provide depends on if they expect the employees to use the extinguishers, and if the company has designated certain employees as those who can use the extinguishers. We’ll talk you through these OSHA fire extinguisher training requirements below.

When No Portable Fire Extinguishers are Provided and Employees Aren’t to Use Portable Fire Extinguishers

This one is easy. In this case, the employer is not required to provide any fire extinguisher training.

When Portable Fire Extinguishers Are Provided for Employee Use in Workplace

According to 1910.157(g)(1), when the employer has provided portable fire extinguishers for employee use in the workplace, the employer shall provide an educational program to familiarize employees with the general principles of fire extinguisher use and the hazards involved with incipient-stage fire fighting. The employer must provide the education required in paragraph (g)(1) upon initial employment and at least annually thereafter.

In this context, “education” means the process of imparting knowledge or skill though systemic instruction. It does not require formal classroom instruction.

This fire safety online training course may be part of a good training solution for cases like this.

For Employees Who Have Been Designated to Use Fire Extinguishers as Part of Emergency Action Plan

According to 1910.157(g)(3), when employers have designated specific employees to use portable fire extinguishers, they must provide training in the use of the appropriate equipment.

In this context, “training” means the process of making proficient through instruction and hands-on practice in the operation of equipment that is expected to be used in and in the performance of assigned fire fighting duties.

This short sample from our online Fire Extinguisher Safety Training course is an example of the type of education and/or training a company might provide.

Note this training may require the employee to use other equipment, including respiratory protection, in which case respiratory protection training may also be called for. This online respiratory protection training course may be part of a training solution for these cases.

Letters of Interpretation Regarding OSHA Fire Extinguisher Training Requirements

Keep the following OSHA letter of interpretation in mind regarding OSHA fire extinguisher training requirements:

Letter of Interpretation:  JULY 2, 1991, 1910.155(c)(141)

1.“OSHA does not require that fires actually must be started and extinguished to simulate emergency fire conditions during employee training.

2.”Hands-on” training does not necessarily mean “live fire” demonstration. However, when conducted, live-fire demonstrations should be conducted under qualified supervision at a facility appropriate for the purpose.

3.As a minimum, hands-on training should include the actual discharging of fire extinguishers appropriate for the type of fires expected, unracking of standpipe hoses, and test-sounding of fire alarm boxes.”

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Additional Articles about Fire Extinguishers and OSHA Fire Extinguisher Training Requirements

In addition to this article, you may find the following articles related to fire safety and fire extinguishers helpful:

Finally, you may want to consider our online fire extinguisher safety training video.

Conclusion: What You Need to Know about the OSHA Fire Extinguisher Training Requirements

Hope this article on the OSHA fire extinguisher training requirements was helpful, and we hope you found some of the fire extinguisher training videos sampled above of interest as well. Check out our courses if you’d like to add some online training to your current fire safety and fire extinguisher safety training at work.

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Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto is an Instructional Designer and the Senior Learning & Development Specialist at Convergence Training. Jeff has worked in education/training for more than twenty years and in safety training for more than ten. You can follow Jeff at LinkedIn as well.

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