What to Expect at an OSHA Fire Extinguisher Inspection

Having fire extinguishers handy at your workplace isn’t enough to pass an OSHA fire extinguisher inspection.

Failure to meet OSHA standards can result in fines and penalties and put your employees’ safety and health at risk.

The thought of an inspection can be daunting, so it’s worth knowing what to expect should you be subject to one. 

We’ve compiled this guide to prepare.

What Are the Requirements for Fire Extinguishers in the Workplace?

There are a few key areas an employer should focus on when it comes to requirements:

osha fire extinguisher inspection

What Are the Correct Types of Workplace Portable Fire Extinguishers?

Portable fire extinguishers that generate soda acid or foam can start a chemical reaction that will release the agent freely. These portable fire extinguishers are operated by turning them upside down so that the cartridge ruptures and expels the extinguishing medium inside, with some models using pressure generating chemicals. 

If not handled properly, these chemicals can lead to an uncontrolled response.

Therefore, an employer should remove from service all:

Fire extinguishers in the workplace are not allowed to use carbon tetrachloride or chlorobromomethane extinguishing agents.

What are the Inspection, Maintenance and Testing Procedures for Fire Extinguishers?

Fire extinguishers are divided into two parts: internal and external.

The employer should ensure monthly external visual examination, which includes:

Extensive external maintenance examinations should be performed yearly, whereas internal examination is only required within every six years, depending on the fire extinguisher.

Hydrostatic testing, where the fire extinguisher is filled with water and pressurised to test its integrity, should occur every five or twelve years, depending on the extinguisher. 

Does this feel overwhelming? Don’t worry – this maintenance may only be performed by someone certified to do so, and will be detailed in the fire extinguisher manual.

Curious about what happens in hydrostatic testing? Internal examination begins with an external examination, after which it’s stripped down to just the stainless steel shell and the hose. The shell is then filled with water at the extinguisher’s indicated pressure for a particular amount of time. If the stainless steel shell leaks or distorts, it fails the hydrostatic pressure test and must be replaced.

OSHA inspectors will check the inspection recordkeeping to ensure maintenance is upheld correctly.

osha fire extinguisher inspection

What Fire Extinguisher Inspection Recordkeeping Is Necessary?

Most portable fire extinguishers have an inspection tag attached to document their inspections. 

After each annual maintenance check, the following should be recorded on the tag:

These tags have a 12-month grid on the back that employers can use to keep a record of the monthly visual inspection by signing at the appropriate date each time.

How To Distribute Portable Fire Extinguishers

Portable fire extinguishers need to be distributed according to the class of the anticipated workplace fire and its potential size. 

osha fire extinguisher inspection

All portable fire extinguishers must be:

What Are the Employee Training Requirements?

If you have fire extinguishers for employee use, the employees must be trained and any new employee must be trained upon arrival.

This includes:

How Insure Compliance Can Help Companies Reach OSHA Fire Extinguisher Inspection Compliance

We have established a unique Safety Gap Model, whereby we perform a safety assessment that exposes any weak links within the company regarding OSHA fire extinguisher inspection. Then, we provide the steps and solutions to bridge those gaps.

The safety gaps in our model include:

We also provide extensive training options for both employees and employers to help you prepare for when an OSHA inspection occurs.

Key Takeaways

Adequately preparing for an OSHA fire extinguisher inspection can save you a lot of stress and a lot of money.

To reach compliance, an employer must ensure:

Staying on top of everything can be overwhelming, so contact us today, and we can help you prepare for an OSHA fire extinguisher inspection. 


Please note that every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this guide is accurate. You should note, however, that the information is intended as a guide only, providing an overview of general information available to businesses. This guide is not intended to be an exhaustive source of information and should not be seen to constitute legal, safety or business advice. You should, where necessary, seek your own advice for any issues raised in your affairs.

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