NFPA 1: Where are portable fire extinguishers required? #FireCodefridays

I don't find March too appealing. It's a long, cold month. Today it has barely reached 32 degrees with a balmy windchill of 22 degrees here in Quincy, MA.  Last week us New Englanders were soaking up the sun and near record heat.  How quickly things change up here! Good thing spring is on its way.  What better time to conduct maintenance on fire protection systems or check compliance with Fire Code requirements. 

Today's focus is provisions for portable fire extinguishers.  One of the more common questions I get about fire extinguishers is "where are they required?"  Section 13.6 of NFPA 1, Fire Code, addresses the provisions for portable fire extinguishers.  Most of the requirements are extracted from NFPA's source document for this equipment which is NFPA 10.  The provisions for selection, installation, inspection, maintenance, recharging and testing of portable fire extinguishers all resides in NFPA 10 and is extracted info the Fire Code.


However, within the section extracted from NFPA 10 is Section which determines first where fire extinguishers are required, and is governed by NFPA 1:* Where Required. Fire extinguishers shall be provided where required by this Code as specified in Table
and the referenced codes and standards listed in Chapter 2.


Portable fire extinguishers are required by the Code to be installed in the occupancies specified by Table  The Code requires portable fire extinguishers in buildings of every occupancy classification other than one- and two-family dwellings, whereas NFPA 101 requires portable fire extinguishers in far fewer occupancies. The different requirements of NFPA 1 and NFPA 101 are sometimes, incorrectly, perceived as a conflict, but they are not. The scope of NFPA 1 includes occupant safety, emergency responder safety, and property protection; the scope of NFPA 101 is limited to occupant life safety. The broader scope of NFPA 1 warrants different protection requirements — in this case, more stringent requirements than those of NFPA 101 for the installation of portable fire extinguishers. By meeting the more stringent requirements for portable fire extinguishers of NFPA 1, the requirements of NFPA 101 are also met. A conflict would exist only if one code required portable fire extinguishers and another code prohibited them.

Do you require portable fire extinguishers in your facility? What common issues have you seen with the portable fire extinguishers?  Training?  Inspection?  Recharging?

Thanks for reading.  Happy Friday!

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Kristin Bigda
Technical Lead and Principal Fire Protection Engineer with a focus on building and life safety related content.

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