Understanding OSHA Fire Extinguisher Requirements

March 15, 2024

This blog gives you everything you need about OSHA fire extinguisher requirements. Fire extinguishers are a fundamental component of workplace safety, protecting employees, customers, and property from the devastating impacts of fires. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets forth specific requirements for the placement, use, maintenance, and testing of fire extinguishers to ensure they are accessible and functional in the event of a fire. This blog post delves into OSHA fire extinguisher requirements, aiming to provide employers and safety managers with the knowledge needed to maintain a safe work environment.

Types of Fire Extinguishers

OSHA categorizes fires into five classes – A, B, C, D, and K – each requiring specific types of fire extinguishers. It’s crucial to have the correct type of extinguisher for the particular fire risks in your workplace:

  • Class A: For ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, and cloth.
  • Class B: For flammable liquids like gasoline, oil, and grease.
  • Class C: For electrical fires.
  • Class D: For combustible metals.
  • Class K: For kitchen fires involving cooking oils and fats.

Placement and Accessibility

Ensuring proper placement of fire extinguishers is crucial for workplace safety, and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) sets specific guidelines to maximize their effectiveness in case of a fire. According to OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.157, fire extinguishers must be readily accessible to employees without subjecting them to potential hazards. This means placing extinguishers in precise, unobstructed locations that are easily accessible in an emergency. The regulation also stipulates that extinguishers should be located along typical travel paths, including exits from areas. This strategic placement ensures that individuals can quickly and safely access an extinguisher during the critical initial moments of a fire, potentially preventing a small fire from growing out of control.

OSHA’s guidelines also specify requirements regarding the distance between fire extinguishers and their intended use areas. For Class A fires (in ordinary combustible materials such as wood and paper), extinguishers must be placed such that the travel distance for employees to access an extinguisher is 75 feet or less. For Class B fires (involving flammable or combustible liquids), the maximum travel distance to an extinguisher is set at 50 feet, recognizing the rapid spread rate of liquid fires. These distances are designed to ensure quick response times, thereby reducing the risk of fire growth and facilitating a safer evacuation process. Employers are also required to perform regular maintenance checks and mark the locations of extinguishers, further ensuring that fire response measures are effective and in line with OSHA’s commitment to workplace safety.

Inspection, Maintenance, and Testing

OSHA fire extinguisher requirements call for regular inspection, maintenance, and testing of fire extinguishers are critical to ensure they will function correctly when needed. According to OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.157, fire extinguishers must undergo a series of inspections and maintenance routines.

  • Inspection: The regulation mandates that fire extinguishers be visually inspected monthly to check for signs of damage, corrosion, leakage, or obstruction of the safety seals and labels. This visual inspection can often be conducted by the employer or designated staff members. It serves as a preliminary check to ensure that extinguishers are in their correct location, fully charged, and ready for immediate use.
  • Maintenance: OSHA requires an annual maintenance check to be carried out on fire extinguishers. This maintenance must be performed by a certified technician who will conduct a thorough examination of the mechanical parts, fire extinguishing agent, and expellant of each extinguisher. This includes checking the pressure of charged extinguishers, verifying the condition of the hoses, and ensuring that the nozzle and other parts are not obstructed
  • Testing: OSHA requires that fire extinguishers undergo testing at intervals that do not exceed manufacturer recommendations to ensure the cylinder can hold pressure. Every six years, stored-pressure extinguishers that require a 12-year hydrostatic test must be emptied and subjected to a full internal examination and recharging. This hydrostatic testing, required at intervals not exceeding 12 years, involves pressurizing the extinguisher to a level higher than its normal operating pressure to ensure the integrity of its shell and structural components.


OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) mandates that all employers who provide fire extinguishers in the workplace must also offer training and education on their proper use. This directive stems from the belief that merely having fire extinguishers available isn’t enough; employees must know how to use them effectively in an emergency. OSHA’s requirements are detailed in standard 29 CFR 1910.157(g), which specifies that training should be provided upon initial employment and annually after that. This training ensures that employees are familiar with the basic principles of fire extinguisher use and the hazards associated with fighting small fires.

The training program outlined by OSHA is designed to equip employees with the knowledge and skills necessary to evaluate a fire situation. This includes understanding when a fire is too large or hazardous to handle, recognizing the type of fire extinguisher needed for different types of fires (e.g., electrical, grease, or paper fires), and mastering the operation of a fire extinguisher using the PASS technique—Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep. Furthermore, OSHA emphasizes that the training should be practical, encouraging hands-on practice with fire extinguishers or training simulations to build confidence and proficiency in potential responders. This practical component ensures that employees can react swiftly and effectively to mitigate damage and prevent injury in the heat of the moment.


Adhering to OSHA’s fire extinguisher requirements is not only a regulatory obligation but also a critical component of workplace safety. By ensuring the correct types and numbers of fire extinguishers are placed throughout the workplace, regularly inspecting and maintaining them, and training employees on their use, employers can significantly reduce the risk of injury or damage in the event of a fire. Remember, preparation and knowledge are key components of fire safety.

Call us at 662-892-8723 or click here to discuss how we can keep you safe and compliant with OSHA and the NFPA 10 Portable Extinguisher Code.