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Feature

Is an Extinguisher Inspection Ever

Counted as Maintenance?

By Mark Conroy

Those of us familiar with NF PA 10,

Portable Fire Extinguishers know the difference

between extinguisher inspection

and extinguisher maintenance. But for

those people that are less familiar with

the industry standard,

it may not be so clear. In

the event of a fire emergency,

these tools are intended

to be a first line

of defense and need to be

ready for action during

the earliest stages of fire

propagation. For them

to be ready and working

properly, the inspections

and maintenance activities

must be done by the book.

At first glance, it seems pretty simple.

The inspection is a 30-day quick check

of the extinguisher to make sure that it is

in its proper location and that it appears

to be in working order. The inspection

can be done by just about anybody that

visits all extinguisher locations within

a building. A security guard or a building

maintenance person are pretty good

choices for this task. A building owner

that canít identify a person on staff can

usually get a reasonable contract with

the fire equipment distributor to provide

this service. No matter who does

it, it is just a quick check inspection.

Extinguisher maintenance is an annual

event. The confusion arises because not

all extinguishers are torn down and internally

examined on an annual basis. In

fact, the most popular type, the stored

pressure dry chemical extinguisher, is

only internally examined every 6 years.

At the point when this type of extinguisher

has been in service for 6 years,

an internal examination is required to

be performed, then at 12 years a hydrostatic

test is performed, which includes

the internal examination. So the cycle

for opening these extinguishers for internal

maintenance is 6 years, but external

maintenance is performed annually.

Every extinguisher service manual

contains information on what needs to be

done for annual maintenance. Although

technicians rely on these manufacturer

manuals as the basis for this activity, there

are individuals that are

not familiar with them

and question the need

for anything more than

the 30-day quick check.

To bridge the gap, NFPA

10 was updated for 2010

with information on annual

maintenance. The

information appears in

annex section A.7.3.2

and provides a sample

list of 27 items that are procedures or

checks for rechargeable stored pressure

dry chemical extinguishers.

The new annex material also reiterates

that annual maintenance requires the

service of a trained and certified technician

that has the proper tools, parts and

service manuals. Most importantly, the

NFPA 10 annex clarification says that

maintenance of extinguishers should not

be confused with 30-day quick check

inspection of extinguishers. This information

is simply a clarification of a well

understood concept in the industry. In

other words, this has always been the intent

of the standard.

The standard contains the official position

of the NFPA Technical Committee

on Portable Fire Extinguishers. With the

clarity of the material provided in the

annex, I would be surprised if there is

anyone who does not comprehend it. In

the interest of safety, my hope is that it

will not be ignored. F

The above article is the opinion of the

author and does not necessarily represent

the position of a NFPA technical committee

or the NFPA and may not be considered

to be or relied upon as such.

Mark Conroy is an engineer with Brooks Equipment

Company and a principal member of the

NFPA Technical Committee on Portable Fire

Extinguishers.














 

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