Fire Extinguisher Regulations in Ontario

In Ontario, adhering to fire extinguisher regulations is critical to workplace safety. These regulations, governed by provincial and federal guidelines, are designed to ensure businesses are equipped to handle fire emergencies effectively. 

This comprehensive guide aims to unravel these regulations, providing a detailed understanding for employers and employees.

Detailed Overview of Fire Extinguisher Regulations

Understanding The Importance Of Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are devices specifically designed to combat small fires by using substances that cool burning material, remove oxygen, or interfere with the chemical reactions occurring in the fire.

In Ontario workplaces, having the right type of fire extinguisher ready and accessible can be the difference between a minor incident and a major catastrophe.

Calculating the Number of Fire Extinguishers Required

Determining how many fire extinguishers are needed in a workplace is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It involves considering several factors:

  • Size of the Area: Larger spaces generally require more extinguishers. For example, one extinguisher is typically needed for every 3,000 square feet.
  • Type of Fire Hazards: Workplaces with different types of fire risks (e.g., electrical, flammable liquids) may need various types of extinguishers.
  • Occupant Load: The more people in a space, the higher the potential need for extinguishers.

Placement and Accessibility of Fire Extinguishers

Proper placement of fire extinguishers is crucial for effective fire response. Key considerations include:

  • Visibility: Extinguishers should be in plain view, not hidden behind furniture or equipment.
  • Accessibility: Ideally, no one should travel more than 75 feet to access an extinguisher.
  • Near Exits: Placing extinguishers near exits allows users to escape if the fire becomes uncontrollable.
  • Special Hazard Areas: Areas with higher fire risks should have extinguishers close at hand.

Regular Inspection and Maintenance of Fire Extinguishers

To ensure functionality in an emergency, fire extinguishers must undergo regular inspections and maintenance:

  • Monthly Inspections: These visual checks can be performed by trained staff, including examining the extinguisher for damage, ensuring seals are intact, and verifying the pressure gauge reading.
  • Annual Professional Inspections: Certified technicians conduct thorough examinations and maintenance activities.
  • Hydrostatic Testing: Required at intervals specified by the manufacturer or regulatory standards, this test checks the structural integrity of the extinguisher cylinder.

Replacement and Refilling of Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers must be refilled or replaced after use or as per the expiration date. Signs that an extinguisher needs replacing include:

  • Physical Damage: Dents, rust, or other damages can impair function.
  • Expired Inspection Tag: Indicates the extinguisher hasn’t been inspected within the required timeframe.
  • Low Pressure: The extinguisher may not function properly if the gauge indicates low or no pressure.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Types of Fire Extinguishers are Necessary in Different Workplaces?

The type of fire extinguisher required depends on the nature of potential fires.

Class A extinguishers are for ordinary combustibles like wood and paper, Class B for flammable liquids, Class C for electrical fires, Class D for flammable metals, and Class K for kitchen fires.

A workplace assessment determines the specific needs based on the materials present.

How Often Should Fire Extinguishers Be Inspected and by Whom?

Fire extinguishers should be visually inspected monthly by a designated staff member trained to identify signs of damage or wear.

Certified professionals who perform in-depth checks and servicing must conduct annual maintenance inspections.

What is the Required Distance Between Fire Extinguishers in a Workplace?

The recommended distance between fire extinguishers depends on the class of fire risk and the extinguisher’s rating.

Generally, for Class A fires, extinguishers should be placed such that an individual doesn’t have to travel more than 75 feet to access one. For Class B risks, the distance is typically 50 feet.

Are Employers Required to Train Employees on Fire Extinguisher Use?

Yes, employers are required to train employees to use fire extinguishers properly.

This training should cover the types of fires, appropriate extinguishers for each, and the PASS (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep) technique for extinguishing fires.

What Should Be Done If a Fire Extinguisher Is Used or Damaged?

If a fire extinguisher is used, even partially, it must be recharged or replaced immediately. If it’s damaged, it should be inspected and serviced by a professional or replaced if necessary.

How Do I Know If a Fire Extinguisher Is Still Functional?

Check the gauge to ensure the needle is in the green area, indicating adequate pressure.

Inspect for physical damage, corrosion, leakage, or a clogged nozzle. Ensure the seal is not broken or tampered with.

Is There a Regulation for the Height at Which Fire Extinguishers Should Be Mounted?

According to Ontario regulations, fire extinguishers weighing less than 40 pounds should be installed so that the top of the extinguisher is no more than 5 feet above the floor.

The top should not be more than 3.5 feet above the floor for heavier extinguishers.

Are Annual Professional Inspections Documented?

After a professional inspection, a tag is attached to the fire extinguisher documenting the inspection date, the inspector’s name, and the servicing company.

This tag is essential for proving compliance and ensuring a record of maintenance.

What Happens During Hydrostatic Testing of Fire Extinguishers?

Hydrostatic testing involves filling the extinguisher with water or another non-compressible fluid at high pressure to check for leaks and structural integrity. It’s conducted at intervals specified by regulations or the manufacturer.

Can Fire Extinguishers Be Located Inside Cabinets?

Fire extinguishers can be housed in cabinets for protection and aesthetics but must remain easily accessible and visible.

Cabinets should not be locked (except in special circumstances) and should be clearly marked and unobstructed.

What Is the Lifespan of a Fire Extinguisher?

The lifespan varies based on the type and usage but ranges from 5 to 15 years. It’s essential to adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines and replace extinguishers at the end of their service life.

They should be refilled or replaced immediately after use.


Compliance with fire extinguisher regulations is not just about meeting legal standards; it’s about safeguarding lives and property. Understanding these regulations in-depth enables workplaces to be better prepared for fire emergencies.

By ensuring the right type, number, and maintenance of fire extinguishers, workplaces can create a safer environment for everyone.

Thorough knowledge and adherence to fire extinguisher regulations are indispensable in maintaining a safe and compliant workplace in Ontario.

This helps in effectively managing fire emergencies and instills a culture of safety and preparedness within the organization.