There is no optionnot to provide fire extinguishers. The fire code makes it clear on how many and how far apart they’re spaced – at least that’s how it’s done in California.
As for training, the OSHA default plan is that everybody (employees) must be trained.
Or, one option is if you put in your written fire plan that everybody must get out and you let the place burn, that’s ok if you put it in writing.
The other option is if you have a written plan that only certain people are trained to fight incipient fires, then those people can put out the fire and everyone else gets out.
My suggestion is to spend the $3000 for a decent propane fire pan and do the training in house on an open parking lot. It’s fun. Use expired fire extinguisher for training. Then cycle them back into service when your fire extinguisher vendor recharges them.
Eric Clark, MS, CCHO, CHMM
Los Angeles Trade Technical College
Los Angeles CA 90015
I am part of our college’s safety committee and there has been a discussion ongoing in the committee about OSHA’s requirements for availability and use of fire extinguishers in the workplace. Some of the information we have found suggests that the option to not provide extinguishers, or train anyone to use them, is okay by OSHA. However, in LaCrosse, the local fire codes require extinguishers to be present. So the question is, if they are present, does it behoove us to train lab instructors (shop instructors, cooking instructors, etc.) in their use, and if we do, are those persons with the training required to use the extinguisher, if appropriate? And, since we have to have the extinguishers, but one of the OSHA options we’ve been told is to train no-one and forbid their use, would that apply to chem teaching labs? And if it does, why are they there? I understand that as a chemical professional it is my duty to be knowledgeable and trained in the appropriate safety procedures for any chemical we use, but is that a legal requirement, and if it is, does it need to be in the person’s job description? And if so, how would that relate to fire extinguisher use? If the college requires me to use one, does it need to put that in my job description? The OSHA rule seems to make it clear that if they require that, they have to provide regular training, but beyond that, I’m lost.
Does anyone know how this works, and what the law requires our college to do? We have been looking at a PP document we found on-line, which I’ve summarized the pertinent info from into a Word document, that I’d be happy to forward off the list-serve. Frankly we are really confused. Any help would be appreciated.
Lead Chemistry Instructor
Western Technical College
400 7th St. N.
LaCrosse, WI 54601
"It's better to be careful 100 times, than to be killed once."
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