Standard Interpretations - Table of Contents
• Standard Number: 1910.146; 1910.156(c)(4)

April 17, 1998

B. J. Thompson, Ph.D., PE
Pinkerton Security & Investigation Services
1510 Fisher Building
3011 West Grand Boulevard
Detroit, MI 48202

Dear Dr. Thompson:

This is in response to your letter February 23, sent to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Office of Information, requesting an interpretation of 29 CFR 1910.146(k), the rescue and emergency services paragraph of the Permit-Required Confined Spaces (PRCS) standard. Your request was forwarded to the Directorate of Compliance Programs for response. We have repeated your question for clarity to third party readers.

If all of the itemized requirements listed under §1910.146 are met, can entry be made into a permit-required confined space to extinguish an incipient fire without first obtaining a permit to enter?

As a point of clarification, this response is in the context of 29 CFR 1910.155 standard's definition of incipient stage fire. As defined, "Incipient stage fire" means a fire which is in the initial or beginning stage and which can be controlled or extinguished by portable fire extinguishers, Class II standpipe or small hose systems without the need for protective clothing or breathing apparatus.

The answer to your question is yes for the following reasons:

1. The scope of the PRCS standard paragraph (k) is directed to providing aid and assistance to a permit space entrant during an entry operation, not general fire fighting emergencies that could occur in a confined space, permit-required or not. This is evidenced in the beginning of the standard's preamble discussion on paragraph (k) found