Fire Extinguisher Regulations: OSHA & General Regulation

Fire extinguisher regulations are sets are legal requirements that governs the installation, distribution, commissioning and maintenance of fire extinguishers.

The article aims to bring to light these regulations.

Following these regulations helps maximize the use of fire extinguishers and also enhance compliance to legal requirements.

First of all, lets see the OSHA fire extinguisher regulations:


OSHA Portable Fire Extinguisher Regulation

The requirements of this section apply to the placement, use, maintenance, and testing of portable fire extinguishers provided for use by employees in the workplace.

This regulation covers:

  • General Requirements
  • Exemptions
  • Selection and distribution
  • Inspection, maintenance and testing
  • Hydrostatic testing
  • Training and education


See OSHA portable fire extinguisher standard here

General Fire Extinguisher Regulations

The general fire extinguisher regulations covers:

  • Number of fire extinguishers needed at any point
  • Location for installation
  • Commissioning
  • Service and maintenance


Number of fire extinguishers needed at any point

  • UK fire extinguisher regulations state that you should have a minimum of two ‘Class A’ extinguishers on every storey of the building, unless the premises are very small, in which case one may be acceptable.

Class A fire extinguishers meeting this regulation are:

–   3 litre foam extinguishers
–   6 litre foam extinguishers
–   9 litre water extinguishers

  • All premises with electrical equipment (which covers most premises) must have at least 2kg CO2 extinguishers, 5kg if there is 415-Volt rated equipment.

The number of fire extinguishers required depends on the size of the area to be protected and whether the business is classed as low or high risk. As a basic rule of thumb, the floor area in square metres should be divided by 200 and rounded up to calculate how many nine-litre water or equivalent extinguishers are necessary.

If there is a sprinkler or automatic suppression system in place, fewer fire extinguishers may be required.


Location for installation and fitting for fire extinguishers

For example, a ‘standard pair’ water-based and CO2 fire extinguishers are usually located by exits and fire alarm call-points, except where the building has a lot more exits or fire alarm call-points than the number of extinguishers that is needed; there the 30 metre rule dictates where they should go.

The 30 meter rule states that, “Employees should be no more than 30metres from the appropriate extinguisher on any given level of your premises”. The 30 meter rule is derived from the UK British Standards (BS5306).

Specialist extinguishers, such as dry powder for Class C fires in areas such as boiler rooms and wet chemical extinguishers for kitchens (Class F), should be positioned within easy reach, but not too near, the specific fire hazard; Example, the boiler or the deep fat fryer. CO2 extinguishers should be placed within server or plant rooms.

Extinguishers should either be fixed by brackets to the wall, or, if very heavy, attached to a rigid floor stand to discourage people from moving them. Heavier extinguishers should be fixed with the handle at a height of about 1metre.

If they are not totally obvious, extinguishers must be clearly signposted with ID signs fixed to the stand or wall and directional arrows if necessary.


Read Also: 9 Simple steps to carry out fire extinguisher recharge



In the UK, fire extinguishers are not compliant with UK fire extinguisher legislation until they have been commissioned, even if you have the right types and sizes of extinguisher in the right locations.

Examples of things checked during commissioning are:

  • Have the extinguishers been assembled properly?
  • Is the hoses and horns correctly attached?
  • Are they of the right weight or pressure?
  • Are they undamaged?

Fire extinguishers must be commissioned on site by a competent person.


Read Also: 11 Things to check during fire extinguisher testing


Service and maintenance

A responsible person should carry out monthly visual checks, but they must be serviced annually by a competent person. A basic service should include checking if it is in date, hasn’t been tampered with, is in good working order, with correct weight and pressure and has the correct signage and positioning.

UK fire extinguisher regulations recommend that extinguishers should be replaced or given an extended service/overhaul every 5 years. CO2 extinguishers should be replaced every 10 years, unless they are damaged or have been discharged. No extinguisher must ever be more than 20 years old.


Read Also: Fire extinguisher service; how it is done


NOTE: A permanent record of all servicing, maintenance and inspections of fire extinguishers must be kept; this is a legal requirement.