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Halo Fire Protection

"Your Safety is our Priority"

303-775-4113

Chapter 6.1.2 in NFPA 10 States that a person preforming a monthly quick check needs to have minimal knowledge. If you need proof of this knowledge you can click on the link below. You will be directed to an online training program where upon completion you will be sent a certificate.

MAINTENANCE AND TESTING OF PORTABLEFIRE EXTINGUISHERS

Introduction

In order to ensure that they are available and operate properly when needed, both federalcertification

requirements and state licensure requirements mandate that healthcare facilities properly inspect,test

and maintain their portable fire extinguishers [see NFPA 101(00), Sections 18/19.3.5.6 and 9.7.4.1;

MSFC(07), Sec. 906.2]. Unless otherwise indicated, this guide will focus on federal certification

requirements.

Applicable standards

NFPA 101(00), Sec. 9.7.4.1 and MSFC(07), Sec. 906.2 require that portable fire extinguishers be

inspected and maintained in accordance with NFPA 10, Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers.

NFPA 101(00), Sec. 2.1.1 references the 1998 edition of NFPA 10. MSFC(07), Chapter 45, on the

other hand, references the 2002 edition of the standard. For purposes of this guide, all code references

will be based on the 1998 edition ofNFPA 10.

Visual inspections

Portable fire extinguishers are required to be visually inspected when initially placed in serviceand at

least monthly thereafter [see NFPA 10(98), Sections 4-3.1]. These visual inspections, intended to help

ensure that each extinguisher is in its designated place and will operate if needed, can be performed by

facility staff.

A pressure gauge in the “normal” or “operable” range is not a 100 percent guaranty that the

extinguisher will perform as intended. A broken seal, for example, may be an indication that someone

has used the extinguisher and discharged a portion of the contents too small to affect the pressure

gauge. NFPA 10(98), Sec. 4-3.2, therefore, requires that the monthly inspection verify a number of

things including:

• Extinguishers are in theirdesignated places

• There are no obstructions to accessor visibility

• Safety seals are not broken ormissing

• There is no evidence of physical damage, corrosion, leakage or clogged nozzle

• Pressure gauge readings are in theproper range or position

• Operating instructions are legibleand facing outward

• Fullness – confirmed by weighingor lifting

Where circumstances warrant, some fire extinguishers may have to be inspected more frequently.

Examples of such circumstances might include extinguishers that are oftentimes found obstructed

during monthly inspections or extinguishers located in areas where they are subject to tampering,theft

or mechanical injury.

Obviously, any problems found during the monthly inspection must be corrected immediately. Some

problems trigger a need for full maintenance or even replacement of the extinguisher. For example:

1. Full maintenance procedures must be performed whenever an inspection of a rechargeable fire

extinguisher reveals any of the following problems [see NFPA 10(98), Sec. 4-3.3.1]:

• Operating instructions are notlegible

• Safety seals are broken or missing

• Fullness can’t be confirmed (asdetermined by weighing or lifting)

• There is evidence of physical damage, corrosion, leakage or a clogged nozzle

• Pressure gauge readings are not in the operable range or position Maintenance/testing of portable fire extinguishers

Page 2 of 4

2. When any of the conditions noted in Item 1 on the previous page, with the exception of a broken or

missing safety seal, are found during an inspection of a nonrechargeable dry chemical extinguisher,

the extinguisher must be removed fromuse [see NFPA 10(98), Sec. 4-3.3.2].

• Nonrechargeable extinguishers can be identified by looking for markings similar to the

following: “Discharge and Dispose of After Any Use”, “Discharge and Return to Manufacturer

After Any Use”, or simply“Nonrechargeable”.

Maintenance

“Maintenance” is a thorough examination and repair, as needed, of your facility’s portablefire

extinguishers and is covered in NFPA 10(98), Sec. 4-4. Maintenance is required at least once a year –

more frequently when indicated by a routine monthly inspection, as discussed earlier. Maintenance is

also required whenever extinguishersundergo hydrostatic testing.

Because maintenance is required to include a thorough examination of the mechanical parts,

extinguishing agent and expelling means of each portable fire extinguisher, it must be performed by an

approved extinguisher servicing company. A more detailed look at what annual maintenance entails

can be found in NFPA 10(98), Tables A-4-4.4.2(a) and A-4-4.4.2(b). It should be noted that new

tamper seals are required to be installed whenever maintenance is performed on rechargeable fire

extinguishers [see NFPA 10(98), Sec.4-4.2.1].

Six-Year Maintenance

Every 6 years, stored pressure fire extinguishers that require a 12-year hydrostatic test (e.g. dry

chemical extinguishers) must be emptied and proper maintenance procedures performed [see NFPA

10(98), Sec. 4-4.3]. The exception to this rule is nonrechargeable extinguishers, which are required to

be removed from service 12 years from the date of manufacture. Again, this maintenance must be

performed by an approved extinguisherservicing company.

Hydrostatic testing

At certain intervals, fire extinguishers are required to be pressure tested using water or someother

noncompressible fluid to help prevent unwanted failure or rupture of the cylinder [see NFPA 10(98),

Chapter 5]. This is called hydrostatic testing and includes both an internal and external examination of

the cylinder. Because this testing requires special training and equipment, it needs to be performed by

an approved extinguisher servicingcompany.

Hydrostatic testing intervals for fire extinguishers are outlined in NFPA 10(98), Sec. 5-2 and Table 5-

2. Test intervals for some of the most commonly found extinguishers are as follows:

• Pressurized water, carbon dioxide and wet chemical extinguishers – every 5 years

• Dry chemical extinguishers –every 12 years

As mentioned earlier, the exception to the rule for hydrostatic testing is nonrechargeable stored

pressure extinguishers (e.g. dry chemical extinguishers), which are required to be removed from

service 12 years from the date of manufacture. Maintenance/testing of portable fire extinguishers

Page 3 of 4

Information only:

Some of you may have heard…

The 2007 edition of NFPA 10 contains a new requirement for the removal of dry chemical

extinguishers manufactured prior to October, 1984 [see NFPA 10(07), Sec. 4.4.1]. Removal is to occur

at the time of the next 6-year maintenance interval or next hydro test interval, whichever comesfirst.

This requirement came about as the result of significant changes made to UL Standard 299, Dry

Chemical Fire Extinguishers, based on fire testing conducted by UL, FEMA and NFPA. This edition

of NFPA 10 is not currently referenced by either the 2000 LSC or the 2007 MSFC, so it doesn’t carry

the effect of law. This is mentioned in this guide only for informational purposes, as some insurance

carriers may be applying thisrequirement to the properties they insure.

Documentation Requirements

Almost as important as conducting required inspection, testing and maintenance is documenting the

fact that it occurred. NFPA 10 requires that these services be properly recorded. What follows is a brief

synopsis of some of the major documentation requirements you need to be aware of.

Monthly inspections

NFPA 10(98), Section 4-3.4 requires that records be kept of all extinguishers inspected, including

those needing corrective action. The date the inspection was performed and the initials of the person

performing the inspection must be recorded on a tag or label attached to each extinguisher. As an

alternate, the monthly inspections can be recorded on an inspection checklist maintained on file or in

an electronic system that provides apermanent record.

Maintenance

Annual maintenance is also required to be recorded on a tag or label attached to each extinguisher that

indicates the month and year the maintenance was performed and the name of the person or company

performing the service [see NFPA 10(98), Section 4-4.4]. In addition to the tag or label, it is

recommended that a permanent record be kept for each extinguisher that indicates at least the

following:

• The date maintenance was lastperformed and by whom

• The date the extinguisher wasrecharged and by whom

• The date 6-year maintenance waslast performed and by whom

• The date the extinguisher washydrostatically tested and by whom

Six-year maintenance is required to be recorded on a metallic label, or similar durable material, affixed

to each extinguisher that indicates the month and year the maintenance was performed, the initials or

name of the person performing the service and the name of the company they represent [see NFPA

10(98), Section 4-4.4.1]. Old maintenance labels must be removed at the time any new labels are

affixed to the extinguisher.

Maintenance/testing of portable fireextinguishers

Page 4 of 4

Recharging

When extinguishers are recharged, a tag or label must be attached to each extinguisher that indicates

the month and year recharging was performed and the name of the person or company performing the

service [see NFPA 10(98), Section 4-5.5]. In addition, each extinguisher that has undergone

maintenance that includes an internal examination or has been recharged is required to have a

“Verification of Service” collar installed around the neck of the extinguisher [see NFPA 10(98),

Section 4-4.4.2]. The exception to this rule is carbon dioxide extinguishers that have been recharged

without removal of the valve assembly.

The “Verification of Service” collar, usually made of plastic, serves as visual proof that the

extinguisher was disassembled and maintenance performed. It must be of a type that cannot be

removed without the removal of the valve assembly and must include the month and year the service

was performed.

Hydrostatic testing

NFPA 10(98), Sec. 5-6.1 requires that a permanent record be maintained for each cylinder tested. In

addition:

• High-pressure cylinders (e.g. carbon dioxide) that pass the hydrostatic test must be stamped

with the tester’s identificationnumber and the month and year of the test.

• Low-pressure cylinders (e.g. dry chemical, wet chemical, pressurized water) that pass the

hydrostatic test must have the test information recorded on a metallic label, or similar durable

material, affixed to each extinguisher that indicates the month and year the test was performed,

the test pressure used, and the initials or name of the person performing the service and the

name of the company they represent [seeNFPA 10(98), Section 5-6.4].

Sample extinguisher record

A sample extinguisher record has been developed to serve as a guide that you can use in creating your

own record. A completed record is provided to serve as an example of how the record is expected to be

filled out.

It’s important that at least two people in your facility know where the documentation on yourfacility’s

fire extinguishers is kept to increase the likelihood that it can be readily provided if requested during

an inspection. This documentation needs to be maintained for the life of the extinguishers.

Installing Fire Alarm batteries

  1. Connect the black wire from the Battery (-) terminal to the negative (-) side of battery #2.
  2. Connect the jumper wire provided from the positive (+) side of battery #2 to the negative (-) side of battery #1.
  3. Connect the red wire from the Battery (+) terminal to the positive (+) side of battery #1.

Battery Connection

Fire Extinguisher Monthly Inspection

At least once a month (more often in severe environments) you should inspect your extinguisher. Ensure that:

  1. The extinguisher is not blocked by equipment, coats or other objects that could interfere with access in an emergency.
  2. The pressure is at the recommended level. On extinguishers equipped with a gauge (such as that shown on the right) that means the needle should be in the green zone - not too high and not too low.
  3. The nozzle or other parts are not obstructed.
  4. The pin and tamper seal (if it has one) are intact.
  5. There are no dents, leaks, rust, chemical deposits and other signs of abuse/wear. Wipe off any corrosive chemicals, oil, gunk etc. that may have landed on the extinguisher.
  6. Some manufacturers recommend shaking your dry chemical extinguishers once a month to prevent the powder from settling/packing. We are dubious this has any value (see this Ansul technical bulletin for a detailed discussion), but you are going to pick it up to inspect it anyway, so why not give it a good shake?
  7. Fire extinguishers should be pressure tested (a process called hydrostatic testing) after a number of years to ensure that the cylinder is safe to use. Consult your owner's manual, extinguisher label or the manufacturer to see when yours may need such testing.

Which kind of extinguisher should I use?

The classifies fires into five general categories (U.S.):

  • Class A fires are ordinary materials like burning paper, lumber, cardboard, plastics etc.
  • Class B fires involve flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, and common organic solvents used in the laboratory.
  • Class C fires involve energized electrical equipment, such as appliances, switches, panel boxes, power tools, hot plates and stirrers. Water can be a dangerous extinguishing medium for class C fires because of the risk of electrical shock unless a specialized water mist extinguisher is used.
  • Class D fires involve combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, potassium and sodium as well as pyrophoricorganometallic reagents such as alkyllithiums, Grignards and diethylzinc. These materials burn at high temperatures and will react violently with water, air, and/or other chemicals. Handle with care!!
  • Class K fires are kitchen fires. This class was added to the NFPA portable extinguishers Standard 10 in 1998. Kitchen extinguishers installed before June 30, 1998 are "grandfathered" into the standard.

Using fire extinguishers

You are not required to fight a fire. Ever. If you have the slightest doubt about your control of the situation DO NOT FIGHT THE FIRE. Please see the below.

  1. Use a mental checklist to make a Fight-or-Flight Decision. Attempt to use an extinguisher only if of the following apply:

The building is being evacuated (fire alarm is pulled)

IF ANY OF THESE CONDITIONS HAVE NOT BEEN MET, DON'T FIGHT THE FIRE YOURSELF. CALL FOR HELP, PULL THE FIRE ALARM AND LEAVE THE AREA.