People whose job requires them to oversee safety in the workplace — even those with years of experience — often call manufacturers of emergency equipment with questions. Their questions range from installation queries, to asking about specific requirements mandated for those with disabilities, to concerns about modifying equipment. As an emergency equipment manufacturer, we are often asked to clarify code requirements or where to find ANSI standards.

Over the years, we’ve seen a recurring pattern with regard to the types of questions users have about emergency fixtures. The following are typical of some of the most frequently asked questions our technical support staff encounters, and the answers to these common inquiries.


Q: We’ve just ordered a drench shower (or emergency valve or eyewash station, etc.) for our plant site, and I’ve asked the plumbing contractor to have the plumbing roughed in and ready when it arrives. How much space should we allow for the water supply piping and drain?

A: Do not begin any installation work — including rough-ins — without consulting the installation instructions for the specific model ordered. The instructions contain information about the supplies needed for the job and an illustrated list of components and parts. They provide a step-by-step guide to sealants, dimensions, water flow and drainage capacity requirements, including information about how and where to mount warning signs. Manuals also contain information about water supply connections and testing to ensure that the unit is operating in compliance with standards.

ANSI standards

Q: I want to make sure my emergency fixtures meet ANSI standards. Where can I get a copy of those standards?

A: One source is the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA), From the homepage, click on the link to “Standards Order Form,” then specify that you want the ANSI 358.1-2004 American National Standard for Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment. The cost is $53. Some general guidelines to keep in mind: Products should be third-party certified to meet the standard. Many of the requirements for compliance are the installer’s responsibility. Among other things, ANSI mandates that areas containing emergency fixtures be well-lighted, and specifies that each fixture have a highly visible sign for quick identification. The ANSI standard provides instructions and guidelines for weekly and annual testing of emergency equipment to verify performance.

ADA requirements

Q: How can I ensure my installation meets ADA requirements for emergency fixtures?

A: While there is no adopted ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standard for emergency fixtures, barrier-free products have been developed to meet these needs. Clearances, reach distances and force requirements are extrapolated from similar products that are covered by the ADA guidelines. For specific guidance, contact the Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center. To be automatically connected to your regional center, call 1-800-949-4ADA.

Local and state codes

Q: How can I find out which state and local building codes apply to my installation?

A: Your best bet is to contact your local building code authority for specific guidance.

Modifying emergency fixtures

Q: Where can I get information on how to modify an emergency fixture such as an eyewash station or emergency valves to fit my application?

A: You can’t. Emergency valves, eyewash stations and drench showers are built to meet mandated requirements, and any modification in the field of that equipment voids your warranty. Worse, it could render the equipment inoperable in an emergency, potentially harming workers and subjecting your company to fines and sanctions.

If your location has special requirements, work with a manufacturer to determine if a product can be designed or modified to meet your needs. Many manufacturers can produce a unique product that will still meet ANSI requirements and qualify for a product warranty.

Outdoor sites

Q: Many of our employees work outdoors, year-round. How can I provide drench showers and eyewash stations in outdoor sites?

A: Outdoor applications require emergency fixtures that are specifically designed to function through a range of temperatures, particularly in northern climates. According to the ANSI Z358.1 standard, any emergency fixture installed where the potential for freezing exists should be protected from freezing, or freeze-protected equipment should be installed.

A through-wall fixture can be very practical for outdoor hazards located near a plumbed and temperature-controlled building. This fixture mounts through an external wall, allowing the water supply pipes to be located indoors, while the drench shower and/or eyewash are mounted on the outside wall of the building. The through-wall design protects water in the pipes against both overheating and freezing by keeping the ball valve assemblies internal to the building.

If extreme temperatures are less of a concern, the easiest solution may be gravity-fed eyewash stations. Drench hoses can be another work site solution under the new ANSI standards. Note that drench hoses must be installed in a fixed location and must be capable of being activated with one step and remain flowing until they are shut off.