Training workers about fire hazards in the workplace and what to do in a fire emergency is required. If you expect your workers to use firefighting equipment, you should give them appropriate equipment and train them to use the equipment safely.  These requirements are found in 29 CFR Part 1910 Subparts E and L; and Part 1926 Subparts C and F.)

Emergency Fire Exits

Every workplace must have enough exits located to enable quick evacuation. Consider the type of structure, the number of persons exposed, the fire protection available, the type of industry, the height of the building and type of construction of the building or structure.

Fire doors must not be blocked or locked when employees are inside. Delayed opening of fire doors, however, is permitted when an approved alarm system is integrated into the fire door design. Exit routes from buildings must be free of obstructions and properly marked with exit signs. See 29 CFR Part 1910.36 for details about all requirements.

Requirements for Portable Fire Extinguishers

OSHA does not absolutely require portable fire extinguishers, but Life, Health and Safety Code do require them.  However, if you expect your workers to use portable fire extinguishers, you must provide hands-on training in using this equipment. See 29 CFR Part 1910 Subpart L.

Emergency Action Plans

When required, employers must develop emergency action plans that:

      • Describe the routes for workers to use and procedures to follow.
      • Account for all evacuated employees.
      • Remain available for employee review.
      • Include procedures for evacuating disabled employees.
      • Address evacuation of employees who stay behind to shut down critical plant equipment.
      • Include preferred means of alerting employees to a fire emergency.
      • Provide for an employee alarm system throughout the workplace.
      • Require an alarm system that includes voice communication or sound signals such as bells, whistles, or horns.
      • Make the evacuation signal known to employees.
      • Ensure emergency training.
      • Require employer review of the plan with new employees and with all employees whenever the plan is changed.

Not every employer is required to have an emergency action plan. OSHA standards that require such plans include the following:

      • Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals, 1910.119
      • Fixed Extinguishing Systems, General,1910.160
      • Fire Detection Systems, 1910.164
      • Grain Handling, 1910.272
      • Ethylene Oxide, 1910.1047
      • Methylenedianiline, 1910.1050
      • 1,3 Butadiene, 1910.1051

Fire Prevention Plans

OSHA standards that require fire prevention plans include the following:

      • Ethylene Oxide, 1910.1047
      • Methylenedianiline, 1910.1050
      • 1,3 Butadiene, 1910.1051

Employers covered by these standards must implement plans to minimize the frequency of evacuations. All fire prevention plans must:

        • Be available for employee review.
        • Include housekeeping procedures for storage and cleanup of flammable materials and flammable waste.
        • Address handling and packaging of flammable waste. (Recycling of flammable waste such as paper is encouraged)
      • Cover procedures for controlling workplace ignition sources such as smoking, welding, and burning.
      • Provide for proper cleaning and maintenance of heat producing equipment such as burners, heat exchangers, boilers, ovens, stoves, and fryers and require storage of flammables away from this equipment.
      • Inform workers of the potential fire hazards of their jobs and plan procedures.
      • Require plan review with all new employees and with all employees whenever the plan is changed.

Fixed Fire Extinguishing Systems

Fixed extinguishing systems throughout the workplace are among the most reliable firefighting tools. These systems detect fires, sound an alarm, and send water to the fire and heat. To meet OSHA standards employers who have these systems must:

      • Substitute (temporarily) a fire watch of trained employees to respond to fire emergencies when a fire suppression system is out of service.
      • Ensure that the watch is included in the fire prevention plan and the emergency action plan.
      • Post signs for systems that use agents (e.g., carbon dioxide, Halon 1211, etc.) posing a serious health hazard.