OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

September 11, 1992




SUBJECT: Application of 29 CFR 1910.333(c)(7) to Fire Fighting Operations


This is in response to your request of June 5, for a determination of whether OSHA would enforce the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.333(c)(7) [nonconductive siderails for portable ladders] for private or contractual fire departments.

Employees of private or contractual fire departments are considered non-public sector employees, and thus are covered by the general industry standards issued pursuant to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). There are no explicit exemptions in the standards that would relieve private or contractual fire departments from complying with 1910.333. These employees are afforded the same protections as other private sector employees covered by the OSH Act.

Portable ladders used by these employees must have nonconductive siderails if the ladders or the employees could contact exposed energized parts, to comply with the provisions found at 1910.26(c)(3)(viii), Portable metal ladders, and 1910.333(c), of the Safety-Related Work Practices Standards. Conversely, the requirements of the above standards do not apply where the employees or ladders could not have contact with exposed energized parts. Private and contractual fire department employees are included in the scope of the Safety-Related Work Practices Standards in 1910.331(b).

Please be aware that the requirements for non-conductive siderails on portable ladders, required by 1910.333(c)(7), do not apply to the powered extensible ladders permanently affixed to trucks; however, the provisions of 1910.333(c), Working on or near exposed energized parts, 1910.333(c)(3), Overhead lines and in particular 1910.333(c)(3)(iii), Vehicular and mechanical equipment, do apply to the fire fighting apparatus in all situations involving potential exposure to electricity.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact James C. Dillard, of my staff, at FTS 202-523-8041.