NFPA Diamond


The purpose of this tutorial is to educate about the two main fire hazard identification systems seen in industry and the importance of having these labels during emergency situations. The NFPA Diamond was created in 1960. It is used by emergency personnel, like firefighters, to quickly identify any risks of hazardous materials involved in the emergency they are responding to. The diamond identifies any precautions or special measures emergency responders should take when dealing with the emergency situation. They are usually seen on trucks transporting chemicals, chemical storage containers, cylinders, or drums, and outside of laboratories.

Below is the general NFPA Diamond. Hover mouse over each square to see what labels can be included here.

Tutorial: For information about how to access NFPA labels for other chemicals click here

Below is the NFPA Diamond for Sodium (Na). Hover mouse over each square for an explanation for each label.

Below are more NFPA examples:

A Note on the Globally Harmonized System:

The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, commonly referred to as GHS, is another hazard labeling system used by many other countries. The NFPA Diamond is most commonly found in facilities within the United States. As of 2014, there are 70 countries who participating in this labeling system, including the United States. It is not legally required to use the GHS or the NFPA labeling systems, but it is required that chemical containers do have some sort of hazard identification on them that comply with the HazCom 2012 standards developed by the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The GHS labeling system makes the import and export of chemicals easier and safer. The GHS system uses three categories of hazards rather than four like NFPA uses. The three different categories are flammables, health hazards, and environmental hazards, which have a variety of sub categories.

GHS uses 9 different pictograms, as shown below, that are placed on containers to identify the hazard of the chemical being stored in the container.

More information regarding the 9 different pictograms and their definitions can be found from the American Chemical Society here. Additionally, there are variations of the GHS pictograms; the rules of when to use these variations of the labels can be found on pages 38-42 of the OSHA GHS guide found here


For information about how to access GHS labels for chemicals, click here. (URL:


Prepared in collaboration with Kara Steshetz