Requirements For Placement, Use, Maintenance And Testing Of Portable Fire Extinguishers – Part 3

Roy Williams

The requirements of Occupational Safety and Health Standard 1910.157 apply to the placement, use, maintenance, and testing of portable fire extinguishers provided for the use of employees. Where extinguishers are provided but are not intended for employee use and the employer has both an emergency action plan and a fire prevention plan that meet the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.38 and 29 CFR 1910.39 respectively, then only the requirements of paragraphs 1910.157(e) and 1910.157(f) apply.

This 7 part series of articles will provide a summary of each section of  Occupational Safety and Health Standard 1910.157 to allow the reader with a good understanding of the requirements as they apply to portable fire extinguishers in the workplace. Occupational Safety and Health Standard 1910.157 consists of 6 major section:

  • 1910.157(b) – Exemptions
  • 1910.157(c) – General Requirements
  • 1910.157(d) – Selection and Distribution
  • 1910.157(e) – Inspection, Maintenance and Testing
  • 1910.157(f) – Hydrostatic Testing
  • 1910.157(g) – Training and Education

Part 1 in this series addressed Exemptions to the requirements of  Occupational Safety and Health Standard 1910.157. Part 2 in this series addressed General Requirements of  Occupational Safety and Health Standard 1910.157. Part 3 in this series will address Selection and Distribution requirements of  Occupational Safety and Health Standard 1910.157.

1910.157(d) – Selection and Distribution requirements of Occupational Safety and Health Standard 1910.157

Portable fire extinguishers provided for employee use shall be selected and distributed based on the classes of anticipated workplace fires and on the size and degree of hazard which would affect their use. Employers shall distribute portable fire extinguishers for use by employees on Class A fires so that the travel distance for employees to any extinguisher is 75 feet (22.9 m) or less. Employers may use uniformly spaced standpipe systems or hose stations connected to a sprinkler system installed for emergency use by employees instead of Class A portable fire extinguishers, provided that such systems meet the respective requirements of 1910.158 or 1910.159, that they provide total coverage of the area to be protected, and that employees are trained at least annually in their use. Employers shall distribute portable fire extinguishers for use by employees on Class B fires so that the travel distance from the Class B hazard area to any extinguisher is 50 feet (15.2 m) or less. Employers 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. Employers 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.

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