NFPA Labels – Reading The Fire Diamond

NFPA labels help workers identify hazardous materials. In this podcast, employees can learn how to read the NFPA label, the “Fire Diamond,” to stay safe.

The diamond shaped NFPA label has four color quadrants, each designated with a hazard range or symbols.

Listen as we review the NFPA label details in less than three minutes! You’re on your way to better industrial hygiene.


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Dan Clark: It’s a big diamond, but I’m not talking about a wedding ring. It’s the red, white, blue and yellow diamond label on chemical tanks and at loading docks. Let’s learn how to read it.

Hello, I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief. This is where we talk about health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites.

The National Fire Protection Association, NFPA, started a labeling system for hazardous materials way back in 1960. The label’s been nicknamed the Fire Diamond. It was originally designed for firefighters to quickly read a container in case of a hazmat emergency. But all workers should know how to read an NFPA label just in case.

NFPA_Labels-Reading_The_Fire_Diamond-Creative_Safety_Supply-250x250The NFPA label is required by NFPA standard 704. The label is a diamond, and inside, four smaller diamonds.

* Top diamond is red to tell you about flammability.

* Left diamond – blue, to indicate health hazards.

* Right diamond – yellow, on chemical reactivity

* Bottom diamond – white, telegraphs special information on radioactivity, acidity, poisons or other things.

Each of the top three diamonds as a number, 0 to 4. “0” means no danger, “4” means look out!It’s the highest level.

* The top diamond, the red one for flammability, will say “0,” not flammable, all the way to “4,” the contents will vaporize at normal temperatures.

* The left diamond, the blue one on health hazards, has a range of “0,” no health hazard, up to “4,” lethal.

* The right diamond, the yellow one on chemicals, will say “0,” stable, up to “4,” can explode at normal temperatures.

* The bottom diamond, the white one, is different. Instead of numbers, it uses letters or symbols to give a warning. Some examples:

– “POI” – contents are poisonous.

– “W” – the contents react violently with water.

- “ACID” – contents are acidic.

– Radioactive symbol means just that—the contents may be, possibly, uh-huh, radioactive.

Make sure that emergency workers and your employees can quickly see these dangers. Try using an industrial label printer to print your own NFPA labels. There are many choices, of course, we’d love it if you would consider one from Creative Safety Supply.

That’s it for this episode on NFPA Labels – Reading The Fire Diamond. Come back for more tips and techniques on how to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, sponsored by Creative Safety Supply. See the website at


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