What Do Your Employees Need To Know About Fire Extinguishers In The Workplace

Travis Jolliff

What is your company’s fire-fighting policy? Fires are the most common type of emergency for most companies, and many fires start out small enough to be put out with a portable fire extinguisher. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that all employees need to know how to use a fire extinguisher.

Why It Matters

According to OSHA, workplace fires kill about 200 and injure about 5,000 persons each year. In a typical recent year, there were more than 75,000 workplace fires that caused more than $2 billion worth of damage. In FY 2004, OSHA issued more than 1,300 citations for violations of its standard on portable fire extinguishers

Training requirements

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) prohibits employees from using a portable fire extinguisher unless they’ve been trained to recognize when and how to use it. Organizations are required to provide this training when employees are first hired and annually thereafter. Employers are also advised to establish a policy clarifying who is qualified to use fire extinguishers, the situations in which they can and should be used, and the proper procedures for use.

The OSHA fire extinguisher training requirements are not very specific, but they do call for a program that “familiarizes employees with the general principles of fire extinguisher use” as well as informs them of the hazards of fighting small fires. For companies that designate only certain (rather than all) employees for fire fighting, training should be more in-depth and encompass the use of various kinds of fire-fighting equipment that are appropriate for the workplace. For either type of training, employers must provide it both initially and at least once a year thereafter.

Employers who provide portable fire extinguishers for employee use must provide an educational program to familiarize all employees with the general principles of fire extinguisher use and the hazards involved with incipient stage firefighting. In addition, employees who are expected to use portable fire extinguishers must be provided with “hands on” training in the use of the fire extinguishing equipment. You may provide educational materials, without classroom instruction, through the use of employee notice campaigns using instruction sheets or flyers or similar types of informal programs; this however, does not relieve you of the responsibility to provide hands-on training for actual fire extinguisher use. You may provide onsite training which exposes employees to the actual “feeling” of firefighting by simulated fires for training employees in the proper use of extinguishers.

Providing fire extinguishers means OSHA compliance responsibilities

Employers need to decide if they want to provide fire extinguishers for employees to use if necessary. The decision may not be easy: While it’s obviously helpful if employees know how to put out small fires, it also exposes them to a higher level of danger than if they are simply required to evacuate. Moreover, employers that do want employees to fight small fires can’t simply mount a few fire extinguishers and leave it at that. Instead, they must comply with the requirements of OSHA’s standard on Portable Fire Extinguishers.

The Jay L Harman Fire Equipment team understands your firefighting needs and is ready to help

The team at Jay L Harman Fire Equipment understands that you will have many burning questions on your mind when it comes to choosing the right fire extinguishers and fire suppression systems for your business.

Jay L Harman Fire Equipment is your go-to distributor for OVAL low-profile fire extinguishers in West Texas and New Mexico.

Jay L Harman is the best and one of the biggest firefighting equipment suppliers and service providers in the region, specializing in fire suppression systems, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, fire fighting protective gear, fire hoses and more. Serving El Paso TX, Las Cruces NM and the surrounding areas, we pride ourselves on buying local and hiring local whenever possible.

Contact Jay L. Harman Fire Equipment in El Paso TX at 915-533-7021 or Las Cruces NM at 575-523-8880. Since 1925, we have protected businesses throughout the area from the harms and hazards of fires. Every Jay L Harman technician is licensed and regulated by the Texas Department of Insurance State Fire Marshal’s Office.  Each of these technicians continually receives the most up-to-date factory training and certifications by our manufacturers. Contact Jay L Harman Fire Equipment today. Let our friendly and knowledgeable staff tell you more about our fire suppression systems and help you find the ideal fire suppression system for your needs. Learn more about our full offering of fire extinguisher trainingfirefighting servicesfirefighting productsrequest a quote, ask a question or request additional information.