• Customer Questions: Where Can You Put A Flammable Cabinet
  • Karen

    Karen D. Hamel CSP, CET, WACH, is a regulatory compliance professional, trainer and technical writer for New Pig. She has more than 25 years of experience helping EHS professionals find solutions to meet EPA, OSHA and DOT regulations and has had more than 200 articles published on a variety of EHS topics. Karen is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP), Certified Environmental health and Safety Trainer (CET), Walkway Auditor Certificate Holder (WACH), OSHA-Authorized Outreach Trainer for General Industry, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) trainer and hazmat technician. She serves on the Blair County, PA LEPC. Her specialties include a wide variety of environmental, safety, emergency response, risk management, DOT and NIMS topics. She conducts trainings and seminars at national conferences and webinars for several national organizations. She can be reached at 1-800-HOT-HOGS (468-4647) or by email karenea@newpig.com.

  • Heath Mardissays:
    01/29/2018 at 8:31 am Reply

    My question is…
    Is it okay to place a flammable cabinet under a shelf or any other structure for that matter? Or is there any minimum clearance required above a flammable cabinet?

    • Brittanysays:
      02/02/2018 at 4:24 pm Reply

      Hi Heath, thanks for your comment!

      Yes, flammable storage cabinets can be placed under shelves and countertops, such as these undercounter flammable safety cabinets. In fact, many are specifically designed to be placed in those locations. There are no general requirements for clearance around a cabinet unless incompatible or unstable liquids are being stored.

      Hope this information helps!

  • Heidisays:
    03/06/2018 at 12:58 pm Reply

    My question….how far from an electrical outlet shall a flammable cabinet be placed? We have 2 that are actually covering in use outlets. That seems like a huge risk to me. They won’t move unless I can cite a regulation stating this is unacceptable.

    • Karensays:
      03/08/2018 at 11:01 am Reply

      Hello Heidi, thanks so much for your question.

      You are correct in thinking that placing flammable storage cabinets near electrical outlets presents a safety risk and that regulations should prohibit this practice. In addition to codes and standards that apply to specific processes and operations, a regulation that generally applies to any facility that uses, handles, processes, stores or otherwise handles flammable liquids is OSHA’s flammable liquids regulation (29 CFR 1910.106). Specifically, 29 CFR 1910.106(e)(6)(i) states:

      Adequate precautions shall be taken to prevent the ignition of flammable vapors. Sources of ignition include but are not limited to open flames; lightning; smoking; cutting and welding; hot surfaces; frictional heat; static, electrical, and mechanical sparks; spontaneous ignition, including heat-producing chemical reactions; and radiant heat.

      More specific electrical requirements are spelled out in 29 CFR 1910.106(e)(7) for certain environments as well as classes of flammable liquids and vapors. Appropriate distances from electrical equipment – including outlets – can be anywhere from 5 to 25 feet, depending upon the types of liquids being stored and mechanical ventilation that is present in the area.

      National Electrical Code (NEC) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Codes may also apply to this situation. Some of these standards have been incorporated into the federal OSHA regulations by reference. Others are consensus standards that include best management practices that are used by a variety of different industries to help improve safety in their facilities.

      Hope this information helps!

      If you have any other questions, please let us know.


  • Maryamsays:
    05/09/2018 at 6:00 am Reply

    I’m working in health care facility .. Our organization used flammable cabinets to store flammable liquids in Soiled utility room. My question is shall we relocate the yellow cabinets to either store or clean utility room?
    Is there any standard to follow about the proper location of flammable cabinets in health care filed?

    • Karensays:
      05/15/2018 at 3:05 pm Reply

      Hi Maryam,

      Thank you for your question.

      The NFPA has published a comprehensive standard for Healthcare Facilities: NFPA 99. This standard covers electrical, gas vacuum and environmental systems, equipment, emergency management, laboratories and several other topics that are common in healthcare facilities. In this standard, NFPA specifically requires flammable liquids to be stored in accordance with NFPA 30 Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code and NFPA 45 Standard on Fire Protection for Laboratories Using Chemicals Standards [NFPA 99 Healthcare Facilities]
      Both NFPA 30 and NFPA 45 are general industry standards. Each of these limits the quantities of flammable liquids that may be stored in any particular area and constrains the placement of cabinets. For example, cabinets should not be stored in exit routes.

      More specifically, in the NFPA 99 requirements, flammable and combustible liquids cannot be stored near bunsen burners, ovens, hot pipes and valves or other heat sources.

      They may also not be located in corridors [NFPA 99 Healthcare Facilities]. here is no specific mention of placement in utility rooms, but it is a good idea to look at the scope of each of these there standards to see if any of the conditions listed apply to these areas.

      All three of these standards are available to review on NFPA.org. They can also be purchased from NFPA if you’d like to have a physical copy to reference. Your local fire marshal or code inspectors are two additional resources who would be able to point out any specific local or municipal requirements that might apply above and beyond these standards.

      Please reply if you need further help.


  • Bobby Pledgersays:
    06/11/2018 at 10:55 am Reply

    Will we be in violation of an OSHA code if we set-up a Flammable Cabinet next to an I-beam and ground it to the I-beam, where there is an electrical cabinet next to or on the opposite side of the I-beam?

    • Karensays:
      06/19/2018 at 9:43 am Reply

      Hi Bobby,

      Thank you for your question. Locating a flammable storage cabinet near an electrical cabinet is not a good idea. OSHA requires electrical panels that serve between 120 and 250 volts to have a minimum clearance of 30 inches around the panel board [29 CFR 1910.305(d)]. In addition, OSHA’s flammable liquids regulation states that Category 1 or 2 liquids and Category 3 liquids with flashpoints below 100F can’t be handled in places where vapors may reach a source of ignition [29 CFR 1910.106(f)(6)].

      Please follow up if you have any further questions.

  • Lucysays:
    06/12/2018 at 2:34 pm Reply

    Hi Karen, I am in aviation and we have several flammable storage cabinets that store chemicals for aircraft maintenance.

    I have two concerns:

    1. There are several cardboard boxes located on top of the storage lockers.
    2. One of our storage lockers is located under the stairs.

    • Karensays:
      06/19/2018 at 9:27 am Reply

      Hi Lucy,

      These are valid concerns. The closest regulatory citation in regard to the flammable storage cabinet in a stairway is 29 CFR 1910.106(d)(5)(i), which states that cabinets can’t “limit the use of exits, stairways or other areas normally used for the safe egress of people”. So if the stairs lead to an exit or could be used to access an exit route, the cabinet cannot be located there.

      OSHA’s flammable liquids standard also requires that combustible materials (such as cardboard boxes) be stored away from flammable liquids.They should not be stored on top of nor inside cabinets.

      Thank you for commenting. Please feel free to follow up if you have further questions.

  • Dansays:
    06/13/2018 at 4:16 pm Reply

    My question…. Which locations would you NOT need a flammable storage cabinet? For example: A fire pump room that is separated from the facility and fully enclosed, which has a wet sprinkler system installed. Preventative maintenance on the diesel pump requires the use of several types of oil and flammable aerosols. Would this type of location need a flammable storage cabinet?


    • Karensays:
      06/19/2018 at 9:14 am Reply

      Hi Dan,

      Thank you for your question. The purpose of a flammable storage cabinet is to create a heat buffer for the flammable liquids and aerosol cans that are stored inside. In the event of a fire, the cabinet will help shield the products stored from heat for a longer time than if they were not in the cabinet, giving anyone responding to the fire a little more time to put it out before the cabinet’s contents become fuel. Because your pump room has a wet sprinkler system, any fire occurring in the pump room should be extinguished rather quickly.

      OSHA does permit small amounts of flammable liquids to be stored outside of flammable storage cabinets, so depending on how much oil and how many aerosol cans are involved in this process, you might not technically need one. However, you mention that the oils and aerosols are being used for preventive maintenance. As a best industry practice and for good housekeeping, when the oils and flammable aerosols are not being used, you might want to consider removing them from this room entirely and storing them appropriately in another area.

      Please let us know if you need any further help.

  • Kevin jonessays:
    07/16/2018 at 11:35 am Reply

    Hello, it was brought to my attention that our flammable cabinet is located to close to our designated smoking area. Could you help answer the question, how far from a smoking area can we have our approved cabinet? We are currently 16′ away, is this enough. We do store a five gallons of gasoline in an approved Osha can in this cabinet. It is vented and located 4′ from the nearest electrical outlet. Thank you, Kevin

    • Karensays:
      07/31/2018 at 8:41 am Reply

      Hi Kevin,

      Thank you for your question.

      NFPA 1 and NPFA 30 specify that you need to take precautions to prevent ignition sources (and smoking and open flames are listed) from igniting flammable vapors. (NFPA 1 and NFPA 30 6.5.1) Electrical outlets are an additional ignition source. Neither standard, however, lists a specific isolation distance. Your local authority having jurisdiction (typically a fire marshal) can help to evaluate whether 16’ is a sufficient distance, factoring in the location of the cabinet and other facility design considerations.

      The fire marshal should also be helpful in determining whether or not your flammable storage cabinet actually needs to be vented. Neither OSHA nor the NFPA require cabinets to be vented, and both have issued guidance on this subject. When venting is required by a local ordinance, there are specific provisions requiring it to be vented to a safe location. (NFPA 30

      I hope that helps! Please follow up if you need more information.

  • Danielsays:
    08/15/2018 at 2:16 pm Reply

    Are you allowed to have flammable cabinets outside.

    • Karensays:
      08/22/2018 at 12:52 pm Reply

      Hi Daniel,

      Thank you for your question. Yes, flammable storage cabinets can be stored outdoors. In fact, weatherproof flammable storage cabinets are available for this purpose. See some here.

  • Kerri Charlessays:
    08/17/2018 at 9:46 am Reply

    Good morning , We purchased a cabinet for our household bc we do a lot of home repair and car work so had five gallon gas can, lots of oil based stains, and oils I was concerned about bc the paints and stains were in our basement (kids bedroom is there). My husband put the cabinet in the garage but we have a space heater there for the dogs and it is plugged in about a foot away. I think this is quite dangerous but he tells me this is purpose of cabinet. Can you settle this “discussion” ? I have recommended we move it to other side of garage about 6’ from plugs and heat source, but still not sure if that is far enough from the heater. Thanks

    • Karensays:
      08/22/2018 at 12:47 pm Reply

      Hi Kerri,

      Rules and requirements for homes are different than the regulations that are enforced in industry, but they can still provide some guidance for this situation.

      The purpose of a flammable storage cabinet is to help shield the contents from fire and heat. As part of the certification test, flammable storage cabinets are subjected to fire for ten minutes. The internal temperature at the center of the cabinet cannot exceed 325F or the cabinet fails the test. So, to an extent the cabinet would shield its contents from the heat created by a space heater.

      The catch is that everything in the cabinet needs to be tightly sealed. Although the cabinet can withstand 325F temperatures, any fugitive vapors from liquids that are stored in the cabinet can still ignite at much lower temperatures than 325 degrees. So putting a space heater that close to the cabinet might not be the best idea. In industry, three feet would be the absolute minimum. In many cases, it would be further than that.

      Thank you for your question.

  • Herman Eickertsays:
    08/22/2018 at 3:02 pm Reply

    Are there any regulations that prevent you from attaching objects to the outside of flammable cabinets with magnets or command hooks. The objects would be load tickets in a pouch or Kanban cards hanging on the command hooks.

    • Karensays:
      08/29/2018 at 12:41 pm Reply

      Hi Herman,

      No federal regulation specifically forbids the use of magnets or command hooks on the outsides of a flammable storage cabinet. However, there are requirements for the cabinet to be properly labeled. So anything that is put on the outside of the cabinet cannot obstruct that labeling and should not cause confusion about the contents of the cabinet. There are also requirements that prohibit the storage of combustible materials (such as paper tags, cards and cardboard boxes) inside or on top of cabinets. Granted, the tags or cards would not technically be in or on top of the cabinet, but your local fire marshal or authority having jurisdiction may not permit this if they feel that it is generally unsafe to have combustible materials in the general area where flammable liquids are kept.

      Thank you for your question!

  • Lesliesays:
    09/28/2018 at 5:00 pm Reply

    My question involves whether it is OK to store a flammables cabinet (at a university) in a large open space, much wider than a hallway, if it does not block egress? This is wider than a typical hallway, but it is open (unlocked) as there are no doors to close it off and has rooms on both sides of the space. Would the flammables cabinet be allowed to be placed here? It is above grade too.

    Thanks for your help.

    • Karensays:
      10/03/2018 at 2:19 pm Reply

      Hi Leslie,

      Thank you for your question. Even if it does not block a route of egress, OSHA says that “danger to employees must be minimized” in exit routes [29 CFR 1910.37(a)]. As part of this requirement, the exit route cannot contain hazards unless they are shielded by “suitable partitions or physical barriers” [29 CFR 1910.37(a)(2)]. For anyone using the hallway to reach an exit, storing flammable liquids in a hallway without partitions or barriers could constitute a hazard.

      Please contact us again if you have further questions.

  • Ben Clarkesays:
    10/16/2018 at 5:26 pm Reply

    Is there a regulation against putting a flammable cabinet in a work pit. I work in the rail industry and there is a 5 ft pit that the train travels over. Maintenance personnel are able to work underneath the train to perform routine checks. There is a flammable cabinet in the pit but does not block the exit. Only lubricants are stored in the cabinet. Is there an issue with this practice.

    • Karensays:
      11/15/2018 at 12:22 pm Reply

      Hi Ben, thanks for your comment.

      OSHA’s flammable liquids regulation does not specifically prohibit cabinets in work pits, but they do require the pit to have adequate ventilation to prevent the buildup of unsafe levels of flammable vapors [1910.106(e)(3)(v)]. Your safety officer, local fire marshal or authority having jurisdiction should be able to conduct some simple air monitoring to determine if the area is properly ventilated to prevent this.


  • mistysays:
    11/28/2018 at 1:05 pm Reply

    Our flammable storage cabinet is placed right against the I-beam that the our fire extinguisher is on.
    In case of a fire/explosion in the cabinet, shouldn’t the fire extingisher be farther away so it can still be easily reached without risk of harm?
    I have found many articles stating that a fire extingisher should be at least within 30ft of this type of storage but not how far from this type of storage it should be.

    • Isabella Andersensays:
      01/15/2019 at 10:17 am Reply

      Hi Misty,

      If the chemicals being stored inside your flammable storage cabinet are being stored properly (no incompatibles, lids sealed, no combustible materials in the cabinet, etc.) the chances of a fire or explosion happening inside a flammable storage cabinet are small. However, if you have determined that there is a risk of a fire happening inside the cabinet, then having a fire extinguisher that close would most likely not be best practice because it would put someone in harm’s way to retrieve and use it.

      The best practice of having fire extinguishers within 30 feet of fire hazards is valid, but it is also recognized that the extinguisher should be placed in an area that still allows the person using it to have an unobstructed means of escaping the area if the fire advances beyond the incipient stage.


  • onyxsays:
    12/06/2018 at 9:49 am Reply

    I have recently relocated a flammables cabinet into a room that does not have a sprinkler system.

    I also could not find a need to have them in the 1910 is there something i may have overlooked.

    • Isabella Andersensays:
      01/15/2019 at 10:15 am Reply

      Hi there,

      Thanks for your question!

      Nothing in the federal OSHA flammable liquids regulation (29 CFR 1910.106) or the associated NFPA 30 standard require sprinkler systems in rooms with flammable storage cabinets. However, state and local fire codes may be more stringent. You can verify any special building code or fire compliance requirements with your local authority having jurisdiction (typically the fire marshal).


  • MMsays:
    12/13/2018 at 10:18 am Reply

    Is it a requirement that flammable storage cabinets be placed in a room with a safety shower?

    • Isabella Andersensays:
      01/15/2019 at 10:13 am Reply

      Hi there,

      At the federal level, OSHA does not require flammable storage cabinets to be place in a room with a safety shower (sprinkler system). However, some state and local building or fire codes may require this. Your local fire marshal or building code inspector would be able to verify any additional requirements that apply to your specific situation.

      Thanks for your question,

  • Dale Hobaughsays:
    01/03/2019 at 5:45 am Reply

    Is there a standard on what can be located near a Flammable Cupboard? Example, Does it have to be located a certain distance from a heater ? A hard hat heater. The hard hat heaters run off gas and have a flame. Just wondering if there is a distance involved in how far the cabinet has to be from a ignition source.

    • Isabella Andersensays:
      01/15/2019 at 9:57 am Reply

      Hi Dale,

      Thanks for the questions. OSHA’s flammable liquids rule states that you need to keep flammables away from sources of ignition [29 CFR 1910.106(e)(6)(i)], but it does not specify how far. Depending upon the ventilation in the area and the flashpoint of the liquids that are being stored, a safe distance can range anywhere from five to 100 feet.


  • Melissa Carutherssays:
    01/07/2019 at 3:19 pm Reply

    Hi Karen,
    I need to add a flammables cabinet to an outlet that now uses canisters of butane fuel. I don’t have any wall/floor space to work with, but I do have several large empty undercounter cabinets (with doors) that would easily accommodate a small flammables cabinet. Is is allowable to put a flammables cabinet in undercounter with a closed door so that it is only visible when the cabinet door is opened? And how far away from an ignition source does the cabinet have to be?

    Thank you,

    • Isabella Andersensays:
      01/15/2019 at 9:56 am Reply

      Hi there,

      Great questions!

      Flammable storage cabinets can be placed under counters. In fact, several under-counter flammable safety cabinets are specifically designed to be placed in these areas. However, you would want to remove the current cabinet doors so that the flammables cabinet could be clearly seen and identified after it is in place.

      OSHA requires flammable liquids to be stored away from outlets (and ignition sources) but does not specify a distance [29 CFR 1910.106(e)(6)(i)]. Ventilation in the area, flashpoints and other considerations must be taken to determine the appropriate distance from outlets and other sources of ignition.

      Hope this helps!


  • Debra Grahamsays:
    01/09/2019 at 12:36 pm Reply

    Is there any requirement about Chemical Storage Cabinets sitting beside electrical panels?

    • Isabella Andersensays:
      01/15/2019 at 9:52 am Reply

      Hi Debra,

      Thanks for the question! If the cabinet is being used to store flammable liquids, OSHA requires the cabinet to be stored away from sources of ignition, including electrical panels [29 CFR 1910.106(e)(6)(i)].


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