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UW Oshkosh Risk and Safety

Mailing Address:
UW Oshkosh Risk and Safety
800 Algoma Blvd.
Oshkosh, WI 54901

Physical Address:
214 Dempsey Hall
M–F 7:45 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Phone:  920-424-3215

Fire Safety

If you see fire or smoke in your immediate area, use the RACE acronym as a guide:

  • R = Remove anyone in immediate danger. Advise students, staff and visitors to evacuate the building. Evacuate the building via the closest exit doors located away from the fire. Do not use elevators. Assist handicapped individuals to the nearest stairwell landing and advise police and/or firemen of their location. Move well away from the building (500 feet is recommended).
  • A = Activate the fire alarm. Pull the nearest fire alarm station. Call the University Police at 424-1212 to report the location of the fire/smoke and any other pertinent information. If the call can not be made safely from the building, call as soon as you find a safe place.
  • C = Confine and contain. Close all doors as you leave the building. Do not lock the doors.
  • E = Extinguish. Only if you know the location of a nearby extinguisher and can do so without endangering your safety.

If you hear a fire alarm:

  • You must evacuate the building. Ensure that all present in your area also evacuate.
  • Shut off your room lights and close the door. Do not lock the door.
  • Take your backpack, briefcase, purse and coat with you. Do not retrieve these items if doing so would delay your evacuation.
  • Evacuate the building via the nearest fire exit and remain well away from the building (at least 500 feet), until informed by a University Police officer that you may re-enter.

For more guidelines on what to do during a fire emergency, refer to the information below.

Emergency Evacuation of People with Disabilities

While an “emergency” by its very definition is an unforeseen event, it also usually requires immediate action. Developing an evacuation plan which addresses identifying exits, designates areas of refuge and assembly point (where all evacuees will meet once they have evacuated the building), and provides additional assistance to persons with disabilities gives everyone a plan of action which shortens their response time and enables them to help themselves and others.

All persons at UWO, including those with disabilities, must prepare for emergencies ahead of time. An evacuation plan must start with this basic premise: Everyone must try to evacuate to the nearest, safe exit.

At least two emergency passageways must be identified in each building. Each passageway must either lead to an exit or safely lead to a designated area of refuge.

After identifying the exits, a recommendation is that each person with a disability ask a co-worker, friend or fellow student to provide assistance if an emergency develops. This “evacuation assistant” should be informed about what disabilities you have and how he or she can best help you.

Persons with disabilities have four basic evacuation options:

  • Horizontal evacuation: This entails using building exits to gain access to outside ground level, or going into unaffected wings of multi-building complexes.
  • Stairway (vertical) evacuation: This means of evacuation means using stairwells to reach ground level exits from the building.
  • Staying in Place: Unless danger is imminent, remaining in a room with an exterior window, a telephone and a solid or fire resistant door may be your best option. With this approach, the person may keep in contact with emergency services by dialing 9-911 and reporting his or her location directly to the University Police.
    • The police will then immediately relay this location to on-site emergency personnel, who will determine the necessity for evacuation. Phone lines are expected to remain in service during most building emergencies. If the phone lines fail, the individual can signal from the window by waving a cloth or other visible object. NOTE: The Stay in Place approach may be more appropriate for sprinkler protected buildings, or buildings where an “area of refuge” is not nearby or available. It may also be more appropriate for an occupant who is alone when the alarm sounds. A label on the door jamb or frame can identify a fire resistant door. Non-labeled 1 ¾ inch thick solid core wood doors hung on a metal frame also offer good fire resistance.
  • Area of Refuge: With an evacuation assistant, going to an area of refuge away from obvious danger is another emergency plan option. The evacuation assistant will then go to the building evacuation assembly point and notify the on-site emergency personnel of the location of the person with a disability. Emergency personnel will determine if further evacuation is necessary. The safest Areas of Refuge are stair enclosures common to high-rise buildings, and open-air exit balconies. Other possible Areas of Refuge include fire-rated corridors or vestibules adjacent to exit stairs and elevator lobbies. Many campus buildings feature fire rated corridor construction that may offer safe refuge.Taking a position in a rated corridor next to the stairs is a good alternative to a small stair landing crowded with the other building occupants using the stairways as a means of egress in an emergency.For false alarms or an isolated and contained fire, a person with a disability may not have to evacuate. The decision to evacuate will be made by the Oshkosh Fire Department (OFD). The OFD will tell the individual of their decision or relay the information via the University Police Department.

Suggested Guidelines for Different Types of Disabilities

  • Mobility Impaired – Wheelchair: Persons using wheelchairs should Stay in Place, or move to an Area of Refuge with their assistant when the alarm sounds. The evacuation assistant should then proceed to the evacuation assembly point outside the building and alert the Oshkosh Fire Department or University Police to the location of the person with a disability. If the person with a disability is alone, he or she should phone 9-911 with their present location and the area of refuge they are headed to.NOTE: If the stair landing is chosen as the area of refuge, please note that many campus buildings have relatively small stair landings, and wheelchair users are advised to wait until the heavy traffic has passed before entering the stairway.Stairway evacuation of wheelchair users should be conducted only by trained professionals or the Oshkosh Fire Department. Only in situations of extreme danger should untrained people attempt to evacuate wheelchair users.
  • Mobility Impaired – Non Wheelchair: Persons with mobility impairments who are able to walk independently may be able to negotiate stairs in an emergency with minor assistance. If danger is imminent, the individual should wait until the heavy traffic has cleared before attempting the stairs. If there is no immediate danger (such as detectable smoke, fire or an unusual odor), the person with the disability may choose to stay in the building with the options listed above, until the emergency personnel arrive and determine if evacuation is necessary.
  • Deaf/Hard of Hearing: Most buildings on campus are equipped with fire alarm strobe lights; however, some are not. Persons with hearing loss may not hear audio emergency alarms and will need to be alerted of emergency situations. Emergency instructions can be given by writing a short explicit note to evacuate.Reasonable accommodations for persons with hearing loss may be met by modifying the building fire alarm system, particularly for occupants who spend most of their day in one location. Persons requiring such accommodation should contact the UWO ADA Coordinator at (920) 424-2296 (voice) or email at
  • Visually Impaired: Most people with a visual impairment will be familiar with their immediate surroundings and frequently traveled routes. Since the emergency evacuation route is likely different from the commonly traveled route, persons who are visually impaired may need assistance in evacuating. The assistant should offer their elbow to the individual with a visual impairment and guide him or her through the evacuation route. During the evacuation, the assistant should communicate as necessary to assure safe evacuation.

Prior planning and practicing of emergency evacuation routes are important in ensuring a safe evacuation.

For additional information, contact UWO’s ADA Coordinator in Dempsey Hall, Room 211, (920) 424-2296.

Fire Inspection Checklist

The following items are included on the checklist used by the Oshkosh Fire Department when inspecting UW Oshkosh buildings:


  • Obstructed exit: Remove any obstruction to exit immediately.
  • Fire escape route blocked or restricted: Remove any obstruction to fire escape route immediately. Storage resulting in restricted access is prohibited.

Fire Doors

  • General: Exit doors must be identified and operable.
  • Exit door blocked or restricted: Remove any obstruction to exit doors immediately.
  • Inoperative fire door: Fire doors must be operative, self-closing or attached to a fused device.
  • Closing door device: Check self-closing device to assure it is functional.
  • Door wedged open: Immediately remove wedge or item holding fire-rated door in an open position.
  • Latches: Self-closing doors should close fully and latch.
  • Panic Bar: Assure that panic bar is in operable condition.

Housekeeping — Miscellaneous

  • Aisles/Stairs/Hallways: Immediately remove any obstruction, material, trash that could hamper easy exits from aisles, hallways and stairwells.
  • Storage in basements and attics: Must be neat and reasonable.
  • Storage in stairwells and stairwell landings is prohibited.
  • Wall decorations: Combustible decorations on walls not to exceed 10% of overall wall space.
  • Gas cylinders: Pressurized cylinders must be labeled and secured.
  • Storage areas: Storage rooms or areas must be neat and reasonable.


  • Charge: Examine pressure gauge to determine if fully charged.
  • Service: Examine extinguisher pin for any apparent damage and check for broken seal.
  • Tagged/Marked: Tag should indicate inspection within past month.
  • Blocked: Assure that extinguisher is accessible for use and unblocked by furniture or debris (three foot minimum clearance).
  • Mounted: The top of the fire extinguisher should be no more than five feet from the floor.

Flammable And Combustible Liquids

  • Storage: Flammable liquids must be stored in a flammable liquids safety container.


  • Excessive/Improper Storage: Remove flammable decorations from areas of assembly to alleviate hazard. Remove combustible material from mechanical or equipment rooms.


  • Defective Fixtures: Assure immediate repair of any damaged electrical fixtures.
  • Missing Cover Plate: Immediately replace any missing or damaged outlet covers.
  • Missing Electrical Panel Cover: Report any missing or damaged electrical panel covers.
  • Extension Cord: Cords are allowed for temporary use of portable appliances.
  • Access Blocked to Electrical Panel: Remove materials blocking access to panel (3-foot minimum clearance).


  • Storage: No items may be stored within 18″ of a sprinkler head in any direction.


Fire Exit Drills

I.    General Guidelines and Policy:

A.    Purpose
The purpose of fire exit drills is to ensure the efficient and safe use of the exit facilities available in the case of an emergency. Proper drills ensure orderly exit under control and prevent the panic that has been responsible for much of the loss of life in the major fire disasters of history.

Order and control are the primary purposes of the drill. Speed in emptying buildings, while desirable, is not in itself an object, and should be made secondary to the maintenance of proper order and discipline.

B.    Responsibility
Fire exit drills shall be designed and conducted according to the occupancies specified below and in cooperation with the authority having jurisdiction. Responsibility for the planning and conduct of drills shall be assigned by campus risk management and safety to competent persons qualified to exercise leadership.

A written record of all drills conducted should be maintained including a critique of the event. This record should be maintained by the campus safety or risk management.

C.    General Guidelines
Drills shall include suitable procedures to make sure that all persons in the building, or all persons subject to the drill, actually participate. If a fire exit drill is considered merely as a routine exercise from which some persons may be excused, there is a grave danger that in an actual fire, the drill will fail in its intended purpose.

All drills should be preplanned and preannounced. Surprise drills tend to limit productive learning, breed apprehension and cause passivity to future alarms.

Any alarm not preceded by plan or announcement shall be treated as an actual fire condition. Fire exit drills shall be held with sufficient frequency to familiarize all occupants with the drill procedure and to have the conduct of the drill a matter of established routine.

Drills should be carefully planned to simulate actual fire conditions. Not only should they be held at varying times, but different means of exit should be used based upon an assumption that if some given stairway is unavailable by reason of fire or smoke, all the occupants must be led out by some other route.

.Fire exit drills should be designed to familiarize the occupants with all available means of exits, particularly emergency exits that are not habitually used during the normal occupancy of the building.

D.    Fire Exit Signs
Adequate posting of fire exit signs is a responsibility which each campus must address. A highly visible graphic design should be conspicuously posted with the following information:

  • Evacuation routes
  • Location of portable extinguisher

The term “fire exit drill” is used to avoid confusion between drills held for the purpose of rapid evacuation of buildings and drills of fire fighting practice that, from a technical viewpoint are correctly designated as “fire drill”, although this term is by common usage applied to egress drills in schools, etc.

II.    Fire Exit Drills in Specific Campus Occupancies:

The usefulness of a fire exit drill and the extent to which it can be carried depends upon the character of the occupancy.

Drills are most effective in occupancies such as classrooms, where the occupant load of the building is under discipline and subject to habitual control. In buildings where the occupant load is of a changing character and not under discipline such as Student Unions, no regularly organized fire exit drill is possible.

In such cases, the fire exit drills must be limited to the regular employees, who can be thoroughly schooled in the proper procedure and can be trained to properly direct other occupants of the building in case of fire. In occupancies such as hospitals, regular employees can be rehearsed in the proper procedure in case of fire. Such training always is advisable in all occupancies whether or not regular fire exit drills can be held.

The following sections address some of the special fire exit drill details which should be observed for specific occupancy classes.

A.    Educational Occupancies — Classrooms, Lecture Halls, Laboratories, Administrative Buildings, Workshops
All educational buildings on campus must hold one fire exit drill per year, preferably during the first four weeks of the semester. Faculty and staff shall work in cooperation with safety personnel in scheduling drills before the semester begins to allow for curriculum planning.

Evacuation instructions are to be conspicuously posted in buildings to provide the necessary evacuation information and ensure orderly egress from the building. Signs should also specify that elevators must not be used to exit and should delineate alternative routes.

Classroom faculty and staff should be familiar with the easiest exit to be used in the fire drill and the alternative exits available. Faculty and staff should close (not lock) doors and windows and take responsibility for checking facilities for complete evacuation. All personal belongings within reach should be taken from classrooms by students.

Handicapped students should inform faculty or staff at the start of the semester of any special requirements with respect to locations and procedures that will best facilitate those students’ egress from the building in an emergency. In general, wheelchair users should go to the stairwell which is furthest from the fire and wait for help.

Fire departments should be notified that stairwells be checked first. Other handicapped persons should be assisted by student’s faculty or staff.

B.    Residential Occupancies — Dormitories, Lodges, Etc.
Residential facilities demonstrate the greatest need for adequate and effective fire exit awareness due to the potential loss of life in what often are high rise structures. Fire exit drills in dormitories must be performed once per year at a minimum.

Because of the nature of the occupancy, it is usually the case that additional drills are performed due to false alarms.

A major concern in dormitory fire drills is the resistance of residents to evacuate the building in the event of a drill. This problem may be alleviated by contacting the city attorney to determine what type of citation may be applied (i.e., disorderly conduct).

Citations may then be issued during the fire drill by the fire department or other official to achieve cooperation. Resident assistants and other employees must take responsibility for the complete and orderly evacuation of the building. Education and awareness are key components to an effective fire evacuation program.

Directional signs in hallways and in each dorm room will help student to become more fully aware of their options. Special consideration must be given to handicapped students with regard to fire safety in dormitories.

To be most effective, handicapped students should be required to evacuate the building during a fire exit drill regardless of their location in the building. Preplanning is key for the handicapped person because his/her own familiarity with the buildings, exits, and the safest methods of egress is vital.

First responders should preplan by having designated individuals assigned to evacuate handicapped persons requiring assistance. The handicapped person should also seek out buddies to assist in the evacuation and should explain all instructions beforehand.

No-one should be left behind during a fire exit drill or fire condition. To facilitate evacuation, handicapped persons should be assigned to rooms on ground or egress level whenever possible.

If evacuation of a handicapped person is not possible, he/she should return to the room, close the door or proceed to the nearest stairwell, he or she should phone 9-911 with their present location and the area of refuge they are headed to and wait for the fire department rescue.

For this reason, each dorm should have a list of all handicapped students and their room location on file with the fire department.On each floor of the facility, the resident staff should proceed down the hall knocking loudly on each door as he/she passes.

Staff should not unlock each door as this is time-consuming and may result in danger to the staff person.

C.    Assembly Occupancies — Theaters, Auditoriums, Lecture Halls, Arenas, Student Unions
Because actual fire drills are not practical for places of noncontinuous assembly where the students or public body changes with each program, employees or attendants of such places should be schooled in the duties they are to perform in case of fire in order to be of greatest service in effecting orderly exit of assemblages.

An adequate number of competent attendants must be on duty when assembly occupancy is used. Attendants should be instructed in the proper use of portable fire extinguishers and other manual fire suppression equipment if provided.

An audible announcement may be made prior to the start of each program to notify occupants of the location of the exits to be used in the case of emergency. Signs with directions for speedy and orderly egress should be posted at aisle ends and at all entrances and exits.

D.    Day-Care Occupancies
In order to meet the requirements for certification, an approved fire evacuation plan shall be executed not less than once per month in campus day-care centers pending severe weather. Fire safety should be included in the curriculum of the day-care center taught by knowledgeable staff to ensure preparedness by children and staff.

Large uncomplicated signs should be strategically place and explained to children prior to a fire exit drill to help educate them in orderly egress. A fire exit drill coordinator shall be assigned to coordinate the fire drill efforts and to maintain written records of the drills and critiques thereof.

Staff shall be instructed to check each room for children and shall have responsibility for a specific group of children during a fire drill. Upon exiting a room, doors and windows should be closed but not locked.

Roll call will be taken immediately after exiting building to ensure that all children have evacuated and are present. Area fire authorities should be consulted to confirm that fire exit drills are being executed in the safest and most efficient manner for a specific building.

E.    Administrative Occupancies
Due to the stable nature of administrative buildings, fire exit drills should be held annually following the guidelines set forth in the section on educational occupancies above. Special consideration must be given to handicapped employees and non-employee guests in the building.

Awareness by the occupying staff of the needs of these people will help to facilitate easy egress.

Fire Extinguisher Placement

General Information

The number and placement of Fire Extinguishers are dictated by Chapter 10 of the National Fire Protection Association, Sub-Chapter 3 Distribution of Fire Extinguishers

3-1 General Requirements

The minimum number of fire extinguishers needed to protect a property shall be determined as outlined in this chapter. Frequently, additional extinguishers may be installed to provide more suitable protection.

Fire extinguishers having ratings less than specified in Tables 3-2.1 and 3-3.1 may be installed provided they are not used in fulfilling the minimum protective requirements of this chapter.

Fire extinguishers shall be provided for the protection of both the building structure, if combustible, and the occupancy hazards contained therein.

Required building protection shall be provided by fire extinguishers suitable for Class A fires.

Occupancy hazard protection shall be provided by fire extinguishers suitable for such Class A, B, C, or D fire potentials as might be present.

Fire extinguishers provided for building protection may be considered also for the protection of occupancies having a Class A fire potential.

Combustible buildings having an occupancy hazard subject to Class B and/or Class C fires shall have a standard complement of Class A fire extinguishers for building protection, plus additional Class B and/or Class C fire extinguishers. Where fire extinguishers have more than one letter classification (such as 2-A:20-B:C), they may be considered to satisfy the requirements of each letter class.

Rooms or areas shall be classified generally as light (low) hazard, ordinary (moderate) hazard, or extra (high) hazard. Limited areas of greater or lesser hazard shall be protected as required.

On each floor level, the area protected and the travel distances shall be based on fire extinguishers installed in accordance with Tables 3-2.1 and 3-3.1.
3-2 Fire Extinguisher Size and Placement for Class A Hazards.

Minimal sizes of fire extinguishers for the listed grades of hazards shall be provided on the basis of Table 3-2.1 except as modified by 3-2.2. Fire extinguishers shall be located so that the maximum travel distances shall not exceed those specified in Table 3-2.1, except as modified by 3-2.2. (See Appendix E.)

Table 3-2.1

Light Ordinary (Low) Hazard Occupancy (Moderate) Hazard Occupancy Extra (High) Hazard
Minimum rated single extinguisher  2-A*** 2-A*** 4-A*
Maximum floor area per unit of A 3,000 sq ft 1,500 sq ft 1,500 sq ft
Maximum floor area for extinguisher 11,250 sq ft ** 11,250 sq ft ** 11,250 sq ft **
Maximum travel distance to extinguisher 75 ft 75 ft 75 ft

*Two 21/2-gal (9.46-L) water-type extinguishers can be used to fulfill the requirements of one 4-A rated extinguisher.
**See Appendix E-3-3.
***Up to two water type extinguishers each with 1-A rating can be used to fulfill the requirements of one 2-A rated extinguisher for Light (Low) Hazard Occupancies. For SI Units: 1 ft = 0.305 m; 1 sq ft = 0.0929 m2

Certain smaller fire extinguishers that are charged with multipurpose dry chemical, Halon 1211, or Halon 1211/1301 are rated on Class B and Class C fires, but have insufficient effectiveness to earn the minimum 1-A rating even though they have value in extinguishing smaller Class A fires. They shall not be used to meet the requirements of 3-2.1.

Up to one-half of the complement of fire extinguishers as specified in Table 3-2.1 may be replaced by uniformly spaced 11/2-in. (3.81-cm) hose stations for use by the occupants of the building. Where hose stations are so provided, they shall conform to NFPA 14, Standard for the Installation of Standpipe and Hose Systems. The location of hose stations and the placement of fire extinguishers shall be such that the hose stations do not replace more than every other fire extinguisher.

Where the area of the floor of a building is less than that specified in Table 3-2.1, at least one fire extinguisher of the minimum size recommended shall be provided.

The protection requirements may be fulfilled with fire extinguishers of higher rating provided the travel distance to such larger fire extinguishers shall not exceed 75 ft (22.7 m).
3-3 Fire Extinguisher Size and Placement for Class B Fires Other than for Fires in Flammable Liquids of Appreciable Depth.
NOTE: Flammable liquids of appreciable depth are those with a depth greater than 1/4 in. (0.64 cm).

Minimal sizes of fire extinguishers for the listed grades of hazard shall be provided on the basis of Table 3-3.1. Fire extinguishers shall be located so that the maximum travel distances shall not exceed those specified in the table used. (See Appendix E.) Exception: Fire extinguishers of lesser rating, desired for small specific hazards within the general hazard area, may be used, but shall not be considered as fulfilling any part of the requirements of Table 3-3.1.

Table 3-3.1

Type of Hazard Basic Minimum Extinguisher Rating Maximum Travel Distance to Extinguisher
Light (low) 5-B
30 ft
50 ft
Ordinary (Moderate) 10-B
30 ft
50 ft
Extra (High) 40-B
30 ft
50 ft

NOTE 1: The specified ratings do not imply that fires of the magnitudes indicated by these ratings will occur, but rather to give the operators more time and agent to handle difficult spill fires that may occur.
NOTE 2: For fires involving water-soluble flammable liquids, see 2-3.4.
NOTE 3: For specific hazard applications, see Section 2-3.

Two or more fire extinguishers of lower rating shall not be used to fulfill the protection requirements of Table 3-3.1. Exception No. 1: Up to three AFFF or FFFP fire extinguishers of at least 21/2-gal (9.46-L) capacity may be used to fulfill extra (high) hazard requirements.
Exception No. 2: Two AFFF or FFFP fire extinguishers of at least 11/2-gal (6-L) capacity may be used to fulfill ordinary (moderate) hazard requirements.

The protection requirements may be fulfilled with fire extinguishers of higher ratings provided the travel distance to such larger fire extinguishers shall not exceed 50 ft (15.25 m).
3-4 Fire Extinguisher Size and Placement for Class B Fires in Flammable Liquids of Appreciable Depth.
NOTE: Flammable liquids of appreciable depth are those with a depth greater than 1/4 in. (0.64 cm).

Portable fire extinguishers shall not be installed as the sole protection for flammable liquid hazards of appreciable depth where the surface area exceeds 10 sq ft (0.93 m2). Exception: Where personnel who are trained in extinguishing fires in the protected hazards, or their counterparts, are available on the premises, the maximum surface area shall not exceed 20 sq ft (1.86 m2).

For flammable liquid hazards of appreciable depth, a Class B fire extinguisher shall be provided on the basis of at least 2 numerical units of Class B extinguishing potential per sq ft (0.0929 m2) of flammable liquid surface of the largest hazard area. (For fires involving cooking grease or water soluble flammable liquids, see 2-3.2 and 2-3.4.) Exception: AFFF- or FFFP-type fire extinguishers may be provided on the basis of 1-B of protection per sq ft of hazard.

Two or more fire extinguishers of lower ratings shall not be used in lieu of the fire extinguisher required for the largest hazard area. Exception: Up to three AFFF or FFFP fire extinguishers may be used to fulfill the requirements provided the sum of the Class B ratings meets or exceeds the value required for the largest hazard area.

Travel distances for portable fire extinguishers shall not exceed 50 ft (15.25 m). (See Appendix E.)

Scattered or widely separated hazards shall be individually protected. An fire extinguisher in the proximity of a hazard shall be carefully located to be accessible in the presence of a fire without undue danger to the operator.
3-5 Fire Extinguisher Size and Placement for Class C Hazards.

Fire extinguishers with Class C ratings shall be required where energized electrical equipment may be encountered that would require a nonconducting extinguishing medium. This includes fire either directly involving or surrounding electrical equipment.

Since the fire itself is a Class A or Class B hazard, the fire extinguishers shall be sized and located on the basis of the anticipated Class A or B hazard. NOTE: Electrical equipment should be de-energized as soon as possible to prevent re-ignition.

3-6 Fire Extinguisher Size and Placement for Class D Hazards

Fire extinguishers or extinguishing agents with Class D ratings shall be provided for fires involving combustible metals.

Fire extinguishers or extinguishing agents (media) shall be located not more than 75 ft (23 m) travel distance from the Class D hazard. (See Appendix E-6.)

Portable fire extinguishers or extinguishing agents (media) for Class D hazards shall be provided in those work areas where combustible metal powders, flakes, shavings, chips, or similarly sized products are generated.

Size determination shall be on the basis of the specific combustible metal, its physical particle size, area to be covered, and recommendations by the fire extinguisher manufacturer on data from control tests conducted.

Fire Extinguisher Use

How to Use a Portable Fire Extinguisher

Employees are not expected to fight fires. Your responsibility in a fire situation is to alert others and to evacuate.

Small fires can often be put out quickly by a well-trained individual with a portable fire extinguisher. However, to do this safely, you must understand the use and limitation of a portable fire extinguisher and the hazards associated with fighting fires.

Do not attempt to extinguish any fire without calling for help and pulling the fire alarm. Always leave an exit at your back in order to escape before using an extinguisher.

Make sure the fire is limited to the original material ignited and is contained (such as in a waste basket). To extinguish a fire with a portable extinguisher, a person must have immediate access to the extinguisher, know how to actuate the unit, and know how to apply the agent effectively.

Attempting to extinguish even a small fire carries some risk. Fires can increase in size and intensity in seconds, blocking the exit path and creating a hazardous atmosphere.

In addition, portable fire extinguishers contain a limited amount of extinguishing agent and can be discharged in a matter of seconds. Therefore, individuals should attempt to fight only very small or incipient stage fires.

Remember (P.A.S.S.): Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep


  • Holding extinguisher upright, twist the pin to break the plastic safety seal. Pull the pin completely out.


  • Aim low. Point the extinguisher nozzle (or its horn or hose) at the base of the fire, not the flames. This is important – in order to put out the fire, you must extinguish the fuel.


  • Squeeze the handle. This releases the extinguishing agent.


  • Using a sweeping motion, move the fire extinguisher back and forth until the fire is completely out. Watch the fire area. Back away if fire breaks out again repeat the process.
  • Operate the extinguisher from a safe distance, several feet away, and then move towards the fire once it starts to diminish. Be sure to read the instructions on your fire extinguisher – different fire extinguishers recommend operating them from different distances.
Fire Extinguisher Inspection

Inspection and Maintenance of Fire Extinguishers

Adequate maintenance of fire extinguishers consists of periodically inspecting each extinguisher, recharging each extinguisher following discharge and performing hydro-testing as needed.

An inspection is a quick visual check that visually determines whether the fire extinguisher is properly placed and will operate. Its purpose is to give reasonable assurance that the extinguisher is fully charged and will function effectively if needed.

In order to be effective, inspections must be frequent, regular and thorough. Maintenance, as distinguished from inspection, means a complete and thorough examination of each extinguisher.

A maintenance check involves examining all its parts, cleaning and replacing any defective parts and reassembling, recharging and where appropriate, pressurizing the extinguisher. Maintenance should be performed periodically, but at least once every year, after each use, or when an inspection shows that need for maintenance is obvious.

Dry Chemical Extinguishers

Dry chemical extinguishers should be inspected monthly and should undergo normal annual maintenance. The quantity of agent for a cartridge-operated model can be checked by weighing, or by removing the fill cap and checking it visually.

The gas cartridge may be checked by weighing. On stored-pressure models, the pressure gauge will indicate if adequate pressure is maintained and the agent quantity can be checked by weighing.

Carbon Dioxide Extinguishers

Weighing is the only way to determine whether carbon dioxide extinguishers are full charged. They should be weighed at least semiannually for loss of weight and inspected for deterioration and/or physical damage.

Although fire extinguishers can hold their charge indefinitely, they can malfunction. Therefore, regulations require they be hydrotested every so often.

The purpose of hydrostatic testing of portable fire extinguishers that are subject to internal pressures is to protect against unexpected, in-service failure. This failure may be due to undetected internal corrosion caused by moisture in the extinguisher; external corrosion caused by atmospheric humidity or corrosive vapors; damage caused by rough handling, repeated pressurizations, manufacturing flaws in the construction of the extinguisher; improper assembly of valves or safety relief discs; or exposure of the extinguisher to abnormal heat, as during a fire.

ABC Extinguishers Hydrotest every 12 years
Maintenance (internal) every 6 years
CO2 Extinguishers Hydrotest every 5 years

UWO Custodial Services maintains all campus extinguishers to these standards.

Fire Extinguisher Training

The UW Oshkosh Health and Safety Department offers fire extinguisher training to UW Oshkosh faculty and staff upon request.

This course utilizes live fire scenarios and actual fire extinguishing equipment. Training includes a lecture followed by a short video and then individual “hands-on training.”

Training can be arranged in various locations on campus and will be scheduled. If you are interested in attending the next session of this training, please contact the Campus Safety Officer at x4484.


This course utilizes live fire scenarios and actual fire extinguishing equipment.

  • Participants may be briefly exposed to fire, smoke and intense heat in a controlled environment.
  • Participants clothing may pick up smoke or soot during the training exercise.
  • Participants with respiratory ailments should use their judgment to excuse themselves from any portion of the training that may be potentially harmful to their well-being.


One of the purposes of this training is to give participants a sensation of extinguishing a fire insofar that a fire can be safely controlled in a training situation. Participants should feel free to excuse themselves from the hands-on use of the fire extinguisher part of the training if they feel they will be harmed in any way.

Help Eliminate Fire Hazards

Electrical Abuse:

  • Electrical hazards represent a serious, widespread occupational danger; practically all members of the workforce are exposed to electrical energy during the performance of their daily duties. It is important that you be aware of the potential for fire resulting from electrical hazards.
  • Use of electrical “octopuses” to obtain more outlets can result in overloaded circuits and fire. Use only 15 amp fused power strips. Replace damaged wires and be sure to match your appliance power requirements to the circuit power.
  • Never remove the grounding post from a three-prong plug.
  • Hotplates, coffee makers, irons, space heaters, etc. should never be left unattended. They should be unplugged after use and not stored until they are cool enough to touch. Keep heaters away from curtains and furniture.
  • Match the size of an extension cord to the appliance power cord to prevent cord overheating. Extension cords are not intended for “permanent” installations. Wherever possible, appliances shall be connected to permanently wired receptacles.
  • A three-foot clearance is required in front of all circuit breaker panels. Storage of combustibles in mechanical/electrical service closets is prohibited.

See also Electrical Safety in the Office for information relating to eliminating electrical hazards in the office environment.


Storage of bicycles, chairs, desks, file cabinets, boxes and other items is prohibited in all exit ways. Storage is prohibited in all exits and aisles leading to exits. This includes primary hallways and all stairwells.

Exits must remain unobstructed and accessible at all times. Blocked exits have caused “chain reaction” pile-ups of fallen people during emergencies. Obstructed stairwells or exits can seriously hinder your escape effort during an emergency.

Historically, blocked exits are the cause of most fire-related deaths in commercial buildings.

Open Flames:

  • Open flames such as Bunsen burners, barbecue grills, torches, etc. shall never be left unattended. Extinguish all open flames, even if left for a very short time.


  • Never prop open fire doors with wedges or other objects. The very purpose of these doors is to prevent smoke and heat from traveling up stairwells and along corridors.

Flammable Liquids and Gases:

  • Storage of flammable liquids in laboratories, shops, and classrooms is limited to specific quantities and approved containers, cabinets or vaults.
  • Know what the maximum permissible quantity of flammable liquids is for your laboratory area and never exceed this amount. Reference your department’s Laboratory Safety Plan for additional information.