Does "Subpart L - Fire Protection" Apply to You?

Subpart L, according to the scope, application and definitions applicable to this subpart, provides the standards for fire brigades, portable fire extinguishers, standpipe and hose systems, extinguishing systems, fire detection systems and employee alarm systems installed to meet the fire protection requirements and applies to all employments except for maritime, construction, and agriculture. In addition, appendix A provides guidance for this subpart. Key definitions include:

Class A fire means a fire involving ordinary combustible materials such as paper, wood, cloth, and some rubber and plastic materials.

Class B fire means a fire involving flammable or combustible liquids, flammable gases, greases and similar materials, and some rubber and plastic materials.

Class C fire means a fire involving energized electrical equipment where safety to the employee requires the use of electrically nonconductive extinguishing media.

Class D fire means a fire involving combustible metals such as magnesium, titanium, zirconium, sodium, lithium and potassium.

Do you have a fire brigade, portable fire extinguishers, standpipe and hose systems, extinguishing systems, fire detection systems, or an employee alarm system? Are you required to have them? Most employers need to comply with the standards for portable fire extinguishers and employee alarm systems. Click on the other tabs below to see if the other standards apply to you.

 

Subpart L - Fire Protection

Tab/Accordion Items

Is your fire brigade or fire department established by the employer? If yes, then the fire brigades standard applies to you. It applies to fire brigades, industrial fire departments and private or contractual type fire departments whenever they are established by an employer. Note: The requirements of this standard do not apply to airport crash rescue or forest firefighting operations. 

This standard provides the requirements for organization (i.e., organizational statement, physician's certificate, assigned personnel), training and education, firefighting equipment, protective clothing, and respiratory protection.  

Fire brigade is defined as an organized group of employees who are knowledgeable, trained, and skilled in at least basic firefighting operations.

Education means the process of imparting knowledge or skill through systematic instruction. It does not require formal classroom instruction.

Additional related information can be found on the safety and health topic pages for personal protective equipment, fire brigades, emergency response and respiratory protection

 

Are fire extinguishers provided for employee use? If yes, then you need to comply with the standard on portable fire extinguishers. It provides general requirements (i.e., providing fire extinguishers, mounting, locating, identifying, accessibility, maintaining), along with selection and distribution, inspections, maintenance, and hydrostatic testing.

Are fire extinguishers provided but are not intended for employee use? If yes, then you only need to comply with paragraphs (e) - inspection, maintenance and testing, and (f) - hydrostatic testing. Note: You need to have an emergency action plan that complies with the standard on emergency action plans as an emergency action plan is required when fire extinguishers are provided but are not intended for employee use (reference paragraph (a) - Portable Fire Extinguishers). You will also need to have a fire prevention plan that complies with the standard on fire prevention plans as a fire prevention plan is required when fire extinguishers are provided but are not intended for employee use (reference paragraph (a) - Portable Fire Extinguishers). 

Exemptions:

  • Where the employer has established and implemented a written fire safety policy which requires the immediate and total evacuation of employees from the workplace upon the sounding of a fire alarm signal and which includes an emergency action plan and a fire prevention plan which meet the requirements of the applicable standards, and when extinguishers are not available in the workplace, the employer is exempt from all requirements of this standard unless a specific standard in general industry requires that a portable fire extinguisher be provided.
  • Where the employer has an emergency action plan which designates certain employees to be the only employees authorized to use the available portable fire extinguishers, and which requires all other employees in the fire area to immediately evacuate the affected work area upon the sounding of the fire alarm, the employer is exempt from the distribution requirements in paragraph (d) of this section.

More related information can be found on our A-Z safety and health topics pages for exits and exit routesemergency action plans and fire prevention plans.

 

Were your small hose, Class II or Class III standpipe systems installed to meet the requirements of a particular OSHA standard (i.e., portable fire extinguishers)? If yes, then you need to comply with the standpipe and hose systems standard. It provides the requirements for equipment, protection of the standpipes, water supply, tests and maintenance. Note: The standard does not apply to Class I standpipe systems.

Class I standpipe system means a 2 1/2" (6.3 cm) hose connection for use by fire departments and those trained in handling heavy fire streams.

Class II standpipe system means a 1 1/2-inch (3.8 cm) hose system which provides a means for the control or extinguishment of incipient stage fires.

Class III standpipe system means a combined system of hose which is for the use of employees trained in the use of hose operations and which is capable of furnishing effective water discharge during the more advanced stages of fire (beyond the incipient stage) in the interior of workplaces. Hose outlets are available for both 1 1/2 " (3.8 cm) and 2 1/2" (6.3 cm) hose.

More related information can be found on our A-Z safety and health topics pages for exits and exit routesemergency action plans and fire prevention plans

 

Were your automatic sprinkler systems installed to meet a particular OSHA standard (e.g., 1910.107 - Spray Finishing Using Flammable and Combustible Materials, 1910.109 - Explosives and Blasting Agents)?  If yes, then you need to comply with the standard on automatic sprinkler systems. This standard provides the requirements for design, maintenance, acceptance tests, water supplies, hose connections for firefighting use, protection of piping, drainage, sprinklers, sprinkler alarms, sprinkler spacing, records, and hydraulically designed systems. Note: Automatic sprinkler systems installed in workplaces, but not required by OSHA standards, are exempt from the requirements of this standard.

Sprinkler system means a system of piping designed in accordance with fire protection engineering standards and installed to control or extinguish fires. The system includes an adequate and reliable water supply, and a network of specially sized piping and sprinklers which are interconnected. The system also includes a control valve and a device for actuating an alarm when the system is in operation.

More related information can be found on our A-Z safety and health topics pages for exits and exit routesemergency action planspersonal protective equipment and fire prevention plans.

Were your fixed extinguishing systems (any type) installed to meet a particular OSHA standard (e.g., 1910.106 - Flammable Liquids)? If yes, then you need to comply with the standard on fixed extinguishing systems, general.  It provides the requirements for design, employee alarms (reference the standard on employee alarm systems), safeguards, inspections, warning signs, maintenance, records, personal protective equipment, automatic detections systems (reference the standard on fire detection systems), and having an emergency action plan (reference the standard on emergency action plans). 

Fixed extinguishing system means a permanently installed system that either extinguishes or controls a fire at the location of the system.

Were your fixed extinguishing systems (any type) not installed to meet a particular OSHA standard, but by means of their operation, may expose employees to possible injury, death, or adverse health consequences caused by the extinguishing agent? If yes, then you need to comply only with paragraphs (b)(4) - (b)(7) [safeguards, signs, inspection, maintenance] and paragraph (c) [total flooding systems with potential health and safety hazards to employees] of the standard on fixed extinguishing systems, general as it provides the requirements for design, employee alarms (reference the standard on employee alarm systems), safeguards, inspections, warning signs, maintenance, records, personal protective equipment, automatic detections systems (reference the standard on fire detection systems), and having an emergency action plan (reference the standard on emergency action plans). 

Does your fixed extinguishing system use a dry chemical (all fixed extinguishing systems, using dry chemical as the extinguishing agent) and was it installed to meet a particular OSHA standard? If yes, then you need to comply with the standard on fixed extinguishing systems, dry chemical which provides specific requirements for dry chemical agents, employee alarms (reference the standard on employee alarm systems), annual sampling of dry chemical, and rate of application. You also need to comply with fixed extinguishing systems, general as it provides the requirements for design, employee alarms (reference the standard on employee alarm systems), safeguards, inspections, warning signs, maintenance, records, personal protective equipment, automatic detections systems (reference the standard on fire detection systems), and having an emergency action plan (reference the standard on emergency action plans). 

Dry chemical means an extinguishing agent composed of very small particles of chemicals such as, but not limited to, sodium bicarbonate, potassium bicarbonate, urea-based potassium bicarbonate, potassium chloride, or monoammonium phosphate supplemented by special treatment to provide resistance to packing and moisture absorption (caking) as well as to provide proper flow capabilities. Dry chemical does not include dry powders.

Does your fixed extinguishing system use a gaseous agent (all fixed extinguishing systems, using a gas as the extinguishing agent) and was it installed to meet a particular OSHA standard?  If yes, then you need to comply with the standard on fixed extinguishing systems, gaseous agent which provides specific requirements for gaseous agents including type of approved for system's application, employee exposures, and Halon systems. You also need to comply with fixed extinguishing systems, general as it provides the requirements for design, employee alarms (reference the standard on employee alarm systems), safeguards, inspections, warning signs, maintenance, records, personal protective equipment, automatic detections systems (reference the standard on fire detection systems), and having an emergency action plan (reference the standard on emergency action plans). 

Gaseous agent is a fire extinguishing agent which is in the gaseous state at normal room temperature and pressure. It has low viscosity, can expand or contract with changes in pressure and temperature, and has the ability to diffuse readily and to distribute itself uniformly throughout an enclosure.

Does your fixed extinguishing system use water spray and foam (all fixed extinguishing systems, using water or foam solution as the extinguishing agent) and was it installed to meet a particular OSHA standard?  If yes, then you need to comply with the standard on fixed extinguishing systems, water spray and foam which provides specific requirements for water spray and foam including effectiveness of the systems and egress. Note: This standard does not apply to automatic sprinkler systems. You also need to comply with fixed extinguishing systems, general as it provides the requirements for design, employee alarms (reference the standard on employee alarm systems), safeguards, inspections, warning signs, maintenance, records, personal protective equipment, automatic detections systems (reference the standard on fire detection systems), and having an emergency action plan (reference the standard on emergency action plans). 

Foam means a stable aggregation of small bubbles which flow freely over a burning liquid surface and form a coherent blanket which seals combustible vapors and thereby extinguishes the fire.

More related information can be found on our A-Z safety and health topics pages for exits and exit routesemergency action planspersonal protective equipment and fire prevention plans.

Was your automatic fire detection system installed to meet the requirements of a particular OSHA standard? If yes, then you need to comply with the standard on fire detection systems. It provides requirements for installation and restoration, maintenance and testing, protection of fire detectors, response time, number, location and spacing of detecting devices, and having an emergency action plan (reference the standard on emergency action plans).

More related information can be found on our A-Z safety and health topics pages for exits and exit routesemergency action plans and fire prevention plans.

The employee alarm systems standard applies to all emergency employee alarms installed to meet a particular OSHA standard. It pertains to maintenance, testing and inspection and applies to all local fire alarm signaling systems used for alerting employees regardless of the other functions of the system. Note: It does not apply to those discharge or supervisory alarms required on various fixed extinguishing systems or to supervisory alarms on fire suppression, alarm or detection systems unless they are intended to be employee alarm systems.

Do you need to comply with the standard for emergency action plansDo you need to comply with the standard for HAZWOPER? If you said yes to either question, then you need to comply with the requirements for employee alarm systems. It provides general requirements (i.e., warnings based on emergency action plan, alerting employees, reporting emergencies, posting numbers, communication systems, procedures), installation and restoration, maintenance and testing, and manual operation. 

Do you have a pre-discharge employee alarm that was installed to meet a particular OSHA standard?  Note: The fixed extinguishing system standards (fixed extinguishing systems, generalfixed extinguishing systems, dry chemicalfixed extinguishing systems, gaseous agent) have requirements pertaining to pre-discharge employee alarms. If you have fixed extinguishing systems, then you may need to comply with the requirements of paragraphs (b)(1) - (4) [i.e., warning, perceived above noise and light levels, recognizable signal, reporting emergencies], (c) [installation and restoration], and (d)(1) [maintained] in the standard for employee alarm systems

More related information can be found on our A-Z safety and health topics pages for exits and exit routesemergency action plans, HAZWOPER and fire prevention plans.