The following pages help to explain more about the NFPA Life Safety and OSHA Codes regarding
Portable Fire Extinguishers use, training, and requirements.
First, we should understand what each of the technical documents really are. Let’s start with the
The NFPA is the National Fire Protection Association. It consists of hundreds of industry experts
working to provide a body of professional standards, all related to fire protection and fire
safety. There are literally hundreds of these standards dealing with every possible area that fire
Before we get into each Standard, we need to explain one important fact. NFPA produces Standards,
(best practices, and performance standards). Many of these Standards refer to something called AHJ.
This means the Authority having Jurisdiction. In a great many states, cities, counties, towns,
villages and other governmental agencies, these are the authority having jurisdiction. State,
Local, City, and County governments have Building and Occupancy departments that enforce the
building and Life Safety Codes for their community. NFPA Standards are very often adopted as the
Code that a community will enforce. The adopted NFPA Standard only becomes law when it is adopted by a community or government agency as an ordinance. Then it becomes a Code that will be enforced for buildings and occupancies in that Jurisdiction, the Authority having jurisdiction.
The following three specific NFPA Standards all relate to the requirements for Portable Fire
First, NFPA 1: Fire Code
Currently adopted statewide in 19 states, NFPA 1: Fire Code (NFPA 1), addresses minimum
requirements for building construction, operation, and maintenance, fire department access, and
hazardous materials necessary to establish a reasonable level of fire safety and property
protection in new and existing buildings. NFPA 1 provides fire code officials with a comprehensive package of criteria to ensure public safety on a routine basis. The scope of NFPA 1, Fire Code includes
occupant safety, emergency responder safety, and property protection.
NFPA 101®: Life Safety Code®
NFPA 101 is the most comprehensive code addressing safety to life from fire and similar emergencies
in both new and existing buildings. The Life Safety Code can be used in conjunction with a building
code or alone in jurisdictions that do not have a building code in place.
Currently used in every U.S. state and adopted statewide in 43 states, NFPA 101®: Life Safety Code® (NFPA 101), addresses minimum building design, construction, operation, and maintenance
requirements necessary to protect building occupants from danger caused by fire, smoke, and toxic
fumes. The Life Safety Code is truly the genesis of nearly all means-of- egress and life safety
criteria codes used in the United States. The scope of NFPA 101, Life Safety Code is limited to occupant life safety.
NFPA 10: Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers
Portable fire extinguishers are a critical first line of defense against small fires. For the best
protection, be sure to select, use, and maintain extinguishers using the latest requirements as
presented in the most up-to- date edition of NFPA 10: Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers.
NFPA 10 – Standard for portable fire extinguishers
Portable fire extinguishers are required by the Code to be installed in the occupancies specified
by Table 18.104.22.168. The Code requires portable fire extinguishers in buildings of every occupancy
classification other than one- and two-family dwellings.
Code of Federal Regulations – 29 –CFR
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
OSHA enforces worker safety standards and regulations in the United States. They have the powers to
apply monetary fines for many serious code violations. They investigate every industrial and
construction accident, as well as conduct regular safety inspections. These are the applicable OSHA
Rules that apply to the use, placement, and training for Portable Fire Extinguishers. For these
and additional sections of the OSHA Rules, please visit:
29 CFR-1910.157(g) Training and education.
Where the employer has provided portable fire extinguishers for employee use in the workplace, the
employer shall also provide an educational program to familiarize employees with the general
principles of fire extinguisher use and the hazards involved with incipient stage firefighting.
29 CFR-1910.157(d) Selection and distribution.
Portable fire extinguishers shall be provided for employee use and selected and distributed based
on the classes of anticipated workplace fires and on the size and degree of hazard which would
affect their use.
The employer shall distribute portable fire extinguishers for use by employees on Class A fires so
that the travel distance for employees to any extinguisher is 75 feet (22.9 m) or less.
The employer may use uniformly spaced standpipe systems or hose stations connected to a sprinkler
system installed for emergency use by employees instead of Class A portable fire extinguishers,
provided that such systems meet the respective requirements of 1910.158 or 1910.159, that they
provide total coverage of the area to be protected, and that employees are trained at least
annually in their use.
The employer shall distribute portable fire extinguishers for use by employees on Class B fires so
that the travel distance from the Class B hazard area to any extinguisher is 50 feet (15.2 m) or
The employer shall distribute portable fire extinguishers used for Class C hazards on the basis of
the appropriate pattern for the existing Class A or Class B hazards.
The employer shall distribute portable fire extinguishers or other containers of Class D
extinguishing agent for use by employees so that the travel distance from the combustible metal
working area to any extinguishing agent is 75 feet (22.9 m) or less. Portable fire extinguishers
for Class D hazards are required in those combustible metal working areas where combustible metal
powders, flakes, shavings, or similarly sized products are generated at least once every two weeks.