Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Am I required to have a Fire Extinguisher in my business?
A: Long story short, YES, It’s the law in California. The California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 8, Section 6151 details the regulatory standards for fire extinguishers; The California State Fire Marshal, Cal OSHA, business/corporate liability insurance and the authority having jurisdiction (i.e. local Fire Marshal) are the government agencies that inspect and enforce the requirements. Employers are frequently cited for the lack of supplying, improper storage, maintenance, record keeping, and employee training required with fire extinguishers.
Q: When should I have my Fire Extinguisher serviced?
A: Businesses are required to have their fire extinguishers serviced EVERY YEAR. NFPA Code 10, Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers Section 6.3.1 details the frequency for fire extinguisher maintenance and their service by law. Fire extinguishers shall be subjected to maintenance at intervals of not more than one year, at the time of hydrostatic test, or when specifically indicated by an inspection or electronic notification.
Inspection, maintenance, and testing are required annually for fire extinguishers. They must be fully charged and in an operable condition at all times; when extinguishers are removed for service, equivalent equipment must be provided. An annual maintenance check and recharge are required to be performed by a trained and licensed service technician. Also, fire extinguishers require recharge service every 6 years from the manufacturing date, and hydrostatic testing every 5 to 12 years. It is mandatory these services are completed by a trained person with suitable testing equipment and facilities. The annual service and periodic testing must be documented on the fire extinguisher service tag, with monthly visual inspection sign-off on the bag of the tag.
OFFICIAL CALIFORNIA CODE OF REGULATIONS
TITLE 19. PUBLIC SAFETY
DIVISION 1. STATE FIRE MARSHAL
§ 1.14. Maintenance. Every fire alarm system or device, sprinkler system, fire extinguisher, fire hose, fire resistive assembly or any other fire safety assembly, device, material or equipment installed and retained in service in any building or structure subject to these regulations shall be maintained in an operable condition at all times in accordance with these regulations and with their intended use.
Q: When do I need to have my extinguisher recharged or refilled?
A: For most locations with standard dry chemical extinguishers, recharge service is required EVERY SIX YEARS FROM THE MANUFACTURING DATE, or when the cylinder has been discharged or lost pressure.
Q: When do I need to have my extinguisher hydrostatically tested?
A: For most locations with standard dry chemical extinguishers, hydrostatic testing or "hydrotest" service is required EVERY TWELVE YEARS FROM THE MANUFACTURING DATE.
Q: When do I need to have my sprinkler system tested?
A: For most locations with sprinkler systems, these systems are required to be tested at a MINIMUM OF EVERY SIX MONTHS, UP TO QUARTERLY.
Q: When do I need to have my commercial kitchen hood system tested?
A: For most locations with commercial kitchen or grill hood suppression systems, these systems are required to be tested at a MINIMUM OF EVERY SIX MONTHS.
Q: Do my employees need to know about fire extinguishers?
A: YES, Employee training is required. Training must cover the general principles of fire extinguisher use and the hazards involved with beginning stage fire fighting. Training should include reporting fires, evaluating fire size, using the provided extinguishers, and maintaining an exit route. This training should be provided when first employed, when assigned to an emergency response team, and at least annually thereafter. Training records should be documented per OSHA standards.
Q: How many and what type of extinguishers do I need?
A: It depends. Employers must evaluate the fire hazards and sizes that might occur in their workplace and choose which type and capacity fire extinguishers to provide. If you're not sure, give us a call - someone is standing by the help you. Otherwise, refer to the handy list below:
Class A fires include wood, paper and textiles
Class B fires include flammable liquids
Class C fires include electrical equipment
Class D fires include metal powders and shavings
Class K fire extinguishers are required for commercial and restaurant kitchens
Cal OSHA mandates different distribution requirements within the building for each extinguisher class. Class A and D fire extinguishers must be supplied every 75 feet or less; Class B extinguishers every 50 feet or less; Class K extinguishers are required every 30 feet. Class C extinguishers should be distributed based on the pattern for existing Class A or Class B hazards. Fire extinguishers should be securely mounted on the wall or inside a cabinet. They must be accessible at all times. Furniture and storage materials should not block access. Employees require training on building fire extinguisher locations; evacuation maps can be marked with the locations.
Q: Where can I find more information on these laws and regulations?
A: You can visit the Office of the State Fire Marshall website directly at: http://osfm.fire.ca.gov/strucfireengineer/pdf/fe/FeStudyGuide.pdf Please refer to pages 40, 41 Section 575.1 and Section 575.2 for maintenance guidelines. Per California Civil Code, please see Nation Fire Protection Association standards on frequency of portable fire extinguisher service in reference # 220.127.116.11.1
Or for information from the National Fire Protection Association please see:
Q: Whoa, that's way too much info, and I have so many more questions on safety. How can I safe-guard my company from OSHA and Fire Marshal fines and get back to actually running my business?
A: For most companies, safety requirements are confusing and the exact laws and regulations are difficult to find and access. It's not just you! It really is complex and involves layers of regulations from local, to State to Federal. That's why our corporate officers have studied for over 10 years to achieve the highest levels of accreditation in their field. It's easy to forget to update an OSHA 300 log or push off your IIPP plan, or improperly label a HAZMAT sticker or post the required labor law posters after the new year. Good news! It's also easy to call us. We'll help you with all details of safety so you can get back to doing what you do best, like a boss.