Employers might choose to provide portable fire extinguishers for employees to fight incipient stage fires. An incipient stage fire is generally defined as one that can be controlled or extinguished using portable fire extinguishers. However, the regulation on portable fire extinguishers at 29 CFR 1910.157 provides alternatives for employers that do not want employees fighting these fires.
Many employers plan to evacuate employees to a safe location in the event of a fire. However, training some employees on fire extinguisher use may be necessary. For example, workers assigned to a fire watch after welding or other hot work are generally trained to use portable fire extinguishers. Potentially, some of your employees are trained to use fire extinguishers, while others would evacuate.
Employers who opt for evacuation do not have to comply with certain requirements of 1910.157, depending on the option chosen. These options are:
The other option is to provide portable fire extinguishers for use by any employee to fight incipient stage fires. In that case, the employer must comply with 1910.157 in its entirety, but there is no requirement to comply with the emergency action plan provisions of 1910.38.
If any employee could grab an extinguisher to fight an incipient stage fire, the employer must provide an educational program for all employees that covers the principles of fire extinguisher use. Employees expected to use portable fire extinguishers must be provided with “hands on” training in the use of the equipment, and this training must be repeated annually.
The Training area of the J. J. Keller® SAFETY MANAGEMENT SUITE offers both classroom training, online training, and videos to help you provide training on fire extinguisher use, along with many other topics. Additional training assets are available - such as quizzes, handouts, exercises, and 5-minute talks - to enhance the training experience.
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