Safety

Portable fire extinguishers

OSHA Healthcare Connection, December 4, 2012

Q: How should I mount and mark portable fire extinguishers? Is it mandatory for fire extinguishers to be mounted on the wall or poles? Do they need to have a sign? Do they need to be painted red?

A:
According to OSHA's Fire Protection standard (29 CFR 1910.157), "the employer shall provide portable fire extinguishers and shall mount, locate, and identify them so that they are readily accessible to employees without subject the employees to possible injury." So yes, please mount your portable extinguishers within 75 feet of employee work areas, 50 feet for class B or C extinguishers. Also, use appropriate labels/signs so the extinguishers can be identified. Regarding painting the extinguishers, in the United States they are usually red, but this is not a requirement. The color of the extinguisher often depends on its contents. For example, sometimes dry chemical extinguishers are yellow to distinguish them from carbon dioxide extinguishers (red), especially if both types are used in the same area.

Finally, obtain the MSDS for the fire extinguisher you use in your facility and keep it on file.

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