Environment, Health and Safety Manual - Chapter 04.07: Fire Safety - Portable Fire Extinguishers


Environment, Health and Safety Manual - Chapter 04.07: Fire Safety - Portable Fire Extinguishers


The provisions of this policy apply to the selection, distribution, inspection, maintenance and testing of portable extinguishing equipment. The requirements given herein are minimums. Portable extinguishers are intended as a first line of defense to cope with fires of limited size. They are needed even when a facility is equipped with automatic sprinklers, standpipe and hose, or other fixed protection equipment. Fire extinguisher training is provided by contacting the Environment, Health and Safety Office Fire Safety Section.


The basic types of fires are Classes A, B, C, and D as defined in the following:

  • Class A: Ordinary combustible materials, such as wood, cloth, paper, rubber, and many plastics.
  • Class B: Flammable and combustible liquids.
  • Class C: Energized electrical equipment.
  • Class D: Combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, zirconium, sodium, and potassium.

Classification and Ratings of Fire Extinguishers

Portable fire extinguishers are classified for use on Class A, B, C, or D fires and rated by nationally recognized testing laboratories for relative extinguishing effectiveness. The classification and rating are based upon the preceding classification of fires and the fire extinguishment potentials as determined by fire tests.

Selection of Extinguishers

The selection of extinguishers for a given situation is determined by the character of the fires anticipated.

Distribution of Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers shall be provided for the protection of the building and for the occupancy hazard contained therein:

  • Required building protection shall be provided by fire extinguishers suitable for Class A fires
  • Protection against occupancy hazard shall be provided by fire extinguishers suitable for such Class A, B, C, or D fire potentials as may be present

Mounting Locations

Extinguishers shall be conspicuously located where they will be readily accessible in the event of fire. They shall be located along normal paths of travel, including exits from an area. Fire protection and fire detection equipment shall not be obstructed.


Extinguishers needing to be recharged due to use or pressure leakage will be recharged by the Environment, Health and Safety Office at no cost to the department or building to which the extinguisher was assigned.


Extinguishers are to be visually inspected monthly by departmental personnel.

New Buildings

The Environment, Health and Safety Office will review plans and determine the types and number of fire extinguishers required for new buildings. The purchase of fire extinguishers and fire hoses for new buildings will normally be funded from the movable equipment allocation of the Capital Improvements budget for the new building. The building’s using department must reserve sufficient funds in the movable equipment account to cover all costs of initial outfitting for fire extinguishers. The Environment, Health and Safety Office will designate the locations where extinguishers are to be installed and will install the extinguishers on request.


Each department will be responsible for funding additional extinguishers required by changes in the type of occupancy (e.g., conversion of space from office to laboratory). The Environment, Health and Safety Office will determine the type and location of extinguishers and will install them on request.

Extinguisher Loss Due to Damage or Theft

It is the responsibility of the using department to institute security measures to prevent losses due to theft. The Environment, Health and Safety Office will replace missing extinguishers, billing them to the department responsible for the area.

Contact Information

Policy Contact

Environment, Health and Safety
1120 Estes Drive
Campus Box #1650
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1650
Phone: 919-962-5507

Back to Chapter 04.06 - Life Safety: Public Assemblies

Proceed to Chapter 04.08 - Storage and Use of Flammable and Combustible Liquids


Article ID: 131940
Thu 4/8/21 9:20 PM
Mon 12/11/23 3:34 PM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
01/28/2019 12:00 AM
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Executive Director
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
05/10/2022 12:00 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
01/28/2019 12:00 AM
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
09/01/2026 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
06/01/2014 12:00 AM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Environment, Health and Safety