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OSHA Fire Extinguisher Requirements

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Stay Safe & Compliant

Help protect your guests, residents & personnel with OSHA’s portable fire extinguisher requirements

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Commercial Fire Extinguisher Requirements

To comply with OSHA standards for portable extinguishers, employers must use OSHA-approved fire extinguishers, stay up to date with regulation inspections, provide annual fire extinguisher training for employees and ensure that extinguishers are readily accessible and clearly marked. 

Refer to your state and local codes for local fire extinguisher requirements. 

  • Fire extinguishers must be accessible to employees without subjecting them to possible injury
  • Only OSHA-approved fire extinguishers may be used 
  • Fire extinguishers must be charged, operational and in their designated place when not in use

  • Fire extinguishers that use carbon tetrachloride or chlorobromomethane are prohibited
  • Do not use soldered or riveted shell self-generating soda acid, foam or gas cartridge water-type fire extinguishers that operate by rupturing the cartridge or generating chemical reactions to expel the extinguishing agent 
  • Employers must provide fire extinguishers that match workplace hazards, such as K fire extinguishers for commercial kitchens or class C extinguishers for electric fires
  • Employees are prohibited from handling portable fire extinguishers unless they have been trained on proper use
  • Organizations are required to provide fire extinguisher training for employees when they are first hired and then at least annually 

  • Visual inspections must be performed monthly on all portable fire extinguishers, but documentation is not required
  • Annual portable fire extinguisher inspection is mandatory and must be documented


*Travel distance is the distance an employee has to walk to reach the fire extinguisher. It is measured down the center of the natural walking path, including curves around corners, walls and doors. 

The travel distance for a Class C fire extinguisher is determined by the A or B hazards present. For offices and warehouses with ordinary combustibles, a Class C extinguisher may need to follow Class A distance standards. If flammable liquids are present, the Class B travel distance must be followed. 

How Often Should Fire Extinguishers Be Tested?

There are four kinds of inspections that should be conducted.  

  • Visual inspections should be conducted once a month and verify the extinguisher is easy to access, in its designated location and fully functional
  • Maintenance inspections should be conducted once a year and documented by trained professionals

  • Internal examinations should be conducted and documented by trained technicians at specified intervals which is generally every 5 years on wet chemical extinguishers and every 6 years on dry chemical extinguishers*
  • Hydrostatic testing should be performed by trained technicians at specified intervals which is generally every 12 years on dry chemical fire extinguishers and every 5 years on wet chemical fire extinguishers**

Be sure that alternate fire protection equipment is available while extinguishers are under inspection and maintenance. After the maintenance inspections, approved extinguishers will receive a dated tag and are good for one year from that date. 

Exemptions From Commercial Fire Extinguisher Requirements
  • Employers are exempt from the above requirements if they have a written fire safety policy requiring immediate and total evacuation of all employees upon the sounding of a fire alarm. This written policy must include an emergency action plan (29 CFR 1910.38) and fire prevention plan (29 CFR 1910.39).
  • Employers are exempt from distribution requirements in the selection and distribution section when the business has an emergency action plan (29 CFR 1910.38) that designates specific authorized employees to use the portable fire extinguishers and requires all other employees to evacuate immediately upon the sounding of the fire alarm. 

United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “1910.157 Portable fire extinguishers”. 2002. 

National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) 10, Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers 

** See NFPA 10, Sec. 7.3

***To find the exact year requirement for your portable fire extinguishers, refer to the “Hydrostatic Testing” section of OSHA 1910.157(f). 

The information provided in this brochure does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all content is for informational purposes only.  This brochure does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and The Home Depot Pro. You should consult your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal issue or problem.