The state of Washington maintains stringent policies and regulations concerning fire safety. In particular, regulations on the use of fire extinguishers in places of business are defined under the provisions set forth by the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act, or WISHA. WISHA rules apply mainly to the use, placement, testing and maintenance of fire extinguishers in the workplace, but local fire marshals may enforce additional regulations.
Selection and Distribution of Fire Extinguishers
In accordance with WISHA rules, employers must provide appropriate, readily accessible fire extinguishers in the workplace. Fire extinguishers must be mounted and located where employees can easily reach them without risking physical harm. Employers are also required to make the correct selection when choosing fire extinguishers based on the type of fire hazards that exist in the workplace. Class A fire hazards include wood, cloth, paper and rubber and require fire extinguishers to be no more than 75 feet away. Class B hazards are liquids, grease and gas and extinguishers must be within 50 feet of hazards. Class C extinguishers are used on live electrical equipment and circuits hazards. Class D hazards relate to powder, flakes and other residue from combustible metals and extinguishers must be within 75 feet.
Inspection and Maintenance of Fire Extinguishers
In Washington, fire extinguishers must be kept in operable condition and left in designated areas. They must be visually examined monthly and must undergo annual maintenance checks. Records of annual maintenance checks must be kept on file to be presented upon request by the department.
Training for Employees
The state of Washington requires that employees must be trained on the proper use of fire extinguishers. Employees must be instructed on hazards involved and general principles of fire extinguisher use. Training is required upon hire and then annually as well.