NFPA Hazard / RTK Labels

NFPA 704 Labels or NFPA Fire Diamond Labels

NFPA Diamond

NFPA 704 is a standard published by the National Fire Protection Association. It defines the "fire diamond" used by emergency personnel to quickly identify the risks posed by nearby hazardous materials. This is necessary to help determine what protective equipment should be used, procedures followed, or precautions taken during the first moments of an emergency response.

The NFPA diamond has four colors--coded to represent different hazards--and each of those hazards is given a number to indicate severity.

  • Blue indicates a health hazard
  • Red indicates flammability
  • Yellow indicates (chemical) reactivity
  • White contains special codes for unique hazards

Each is category is rated on a scale from 0 to 4, where 0 means no hazard and 4 indicates a severe risk.


Specific Hazard

While the red, blue, and yellow parts of the NFPA diamond are ranked with a number, the white, specific hazard section of the diamond contains symbols.

The NFPA 704 Standard defines the following symbols:

  • OX - Oxidizer (e.g. potassium perchlorate, ammonium nitrate, hydrogen peroxide)
  • W - Reacts with water in an unusual or dangerous manner (e.g. cesium, sodium, sulfuric acid)
  • SA - Simple asphyxiant gas. Limited to the following gases: nitrogen, helium, neon, argon, krypton and xenon.

Other Non-Standard Symbols:

  • COR - Corrosive; strong acid or base (e.g. sulfuric acid, potassium hydroxide)
  • BIO or biohazard symbol - Biological hazard (e.g. smallpox virus)
  • POI: Poisonous (e.g. strychnine)
  • radioactive symbol - Radioactive (e.g. plutonium, uranium)
  • CYL or CRYO - Cryogenic (e.g. liquid nitrogen)

Often, you will see an alternative set of symbols in the white area indicating required personal protective equipment (PPE). These alternative symbols are drawn from the HMIG (color bar) system, which differs from the NFPA system.

These are some examples of the PPE symbols used:

PPE Symbols

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