Fire Extinguisher Training Requirements

By Elizabeth Giglio
A typical installation of a portable fire extinguisher in the workplace.

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Fire extinguisher training for the workplace is a requirement of Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) as per section 1910.157 of the OSHA Regulations (Standards - 29 CFR). OSHA is the government agency that oversees workplace safety. The OSHA Regulations set forth the requirements of when training is necessary for portable fire extinguishers, as well as the placement and maintenance of fire extinguishers.

Identify the Need for Fire Extinguisher Training

Fire Prevention is a key concept in workplace safety.

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In many locations, fire extinguishers are required in the workplace by local laws and ordinances. Most jurisdictions reference the National Fire Protection Association's publication "NFPA 10: Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers," most commonly referred to as just "NFPA 10." NFPA 10 sets the standards, using scientifically proven data, for the placement, service, maintenance, and testing of portable fire extinguishers. Fire extinguishers are therefor mandatory in most public locations, office buildings, businesses and schools and will need personnel that are trained in the proper way to use them. Employers should choose employees that are located near the fire extinguishers and are physically capable of lifting one off the wall, pulling the pin and controlling both the cylinder and the spray. These hand picked employees will need to complete fire extinguisher training in order to comply with the OSHA regulations.

Finding Fire Extinguisher Training for Employees

Proper use of a fire extinguisher can prevent small fires from getting out of control.

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The employees that are charged with the use of the portable fire extinguishers are required by OSHA to have initial training on their use, and annual followup training for however long they are still charged with that responsibility. Training for the use of portable fire extinguishers can be obtained through several channels. Portable fire extinguisher maintenance companies that are authorized by the manufacturer may offer training sessions to customers. Another option is to obtain training through an online training program such as Fireextinguisher.com.

Portable Fire Extinguisher Training In a Nutshell

Fire extinguishers are labelled with their type and instructions.

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Portable fire extinguisher training consists of reviewing with personnel the types of fire extinguishers located in the building, the type of fire each one can put out, and the proper use of the unit. There are several different types of fire extinguishers, such as ABC dry chemical which is for general use and a Class "D" fire extinguisher which is for use on flammable metals. The first rule that is taught in training is to call 911, no matter what the size of the fire is. The second rule is to evacuate the building. The third rule is to then determine if the fire can be put out with a portable fire extinguisher. Employees should be trained to asses the safety of the situation before attempting to extinguish the fire by them selves. They should also be trained on the actual use of the extinguisher, and should frequently review the types of extinguishers in their workplace and the materials they can extinguish. Fire extinguishers are required by law to have proper labeling that gives directions for their use and the employee should review those directions periodically. Finally, no employee should put themselves in danger in order to extinguish a fire. Even with proper training, not all fires can be put out with a fire extinguisher. If there is any question as to the safety of staying and trying to fight the fire, the employee should exit the building immediately and leave the fire fighting to the professionals.

About the Author

Elizabeth Giglio has been a freelance writer since 2010. She writes for Answerbag and eHow, covering local interests, health, families and women's issues. Giglio studied history at the University of Maryland University College and psychology at the Florida Institute of Technology and Capella University.

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