The first barrier against fires is portable fire extinguishers. You should make sure that the fire extinguisher is in good working condition and will work in the case of an emergency like any other emergency equipment. Fire extinguishers can work for a long duration if they are kept with proper care, and maintenance and if they undergo regular inspection and testing. This article will be discussing the requirements of fire extinguishers that will ensure you that your extinguisher is ready
Requirements are classified into three parts, testing, maintenance, and inspection. Every section contains information about the procedures needed, qualification to do the work and how frequently one needs to do every step, and, lastly how to keep records.
Procedures of inspection
To make sure that you can use the extinguisher reliably and without any worry, you should do an inspection which is the easiest way to ensure this. Following steps are needed while doing an inspection.
- Ensure the extinguisher is in its specified place
- There should be signboards visible which are indicating the exact location where the fire extinguisher is placed
- Ensure that the extinguisher is easily accessible
- You should ensure that the manometer is in good working condition
- Ensure that the extinguisher is full by checking its weight by lifting it.
- Special consideration should be given to the wheels, hose, tires, carriage, and nozzle in case of wheeled extinguishers.
- pressure indicators should be operated to test the fire extinguishers that are not rechargeable.
- Fire extinguishers should be checked for rust or dents from outside of the extinguisher.
Certification is not a compulsion for performing an inspection. Any capable and well-educated person can perform the inspection of a fire extinguisher.
Extinguishers should be inspected, according to NFPA 10, right after their installment and after that every month. Extinguishers that are present in places where there is more risk of rusting or damage require more frequent inspection.
Details of inspections of every month should be saved either by jotting it down on the page or recording it in an electronic file or putting a label or tag. Certified persons should record the following:
- The specific month and year in which inspection was done
- Person by which inspection was performed
The records should be securely saved for a year
Procedures of maintenance
Maintenance refers to a detailed inspection and replacement of the fire extinguishers if needed. It is recommended that employers should conduct maintenance checks of the fire extinguishers annually. A maintenance check is recommended to be performed by a professional fire extinguisher company. These professional companies have the required equipment and all facilities to conduct the inspection. If an extinguisher fails in the inspection process it must be replaced.
Details of procedures in the manufacturer’s manual and detailed examination of parts of fire extinguisher should be included in the maintenance procedure. These procedures include:
- All Mechanical fire extinguisher parts
- Extinguishing instrument
- Means of expulsion
- Physical condition
External examination completes the maintenance process. Maintenance also requires an internal examination. A guide to the internal examination is present in the manual.
Qualification of person
Only a certified person is allowed to perform maintenance. A test up to the mark of AHJ is required to be taken by the person performing maintenance. The certified person should at least know the requirements of fire extinguisher.
Frequency of external examination
An annual external examination to check for maintenance of fire extinguisher should be done when it is required by the inspection discrepancy or when the hydrostatic test is being conducted. This external examination of extinguishers should be conducted between one to six-year duration. Time duration depends on the extinguisher type. For instance, external examination for dry chemical extinguishers and stored pressure extinguishers is needed after six years.
A label or tag firmly attached to each fire extinguisher is necessary that will give information about when the maintenance was conducted. The label should give the following information
- The specific month and year in which maintenance was performed
- The person who performed the work
- Agency name which performed the work
Tag of verification should be wrapped around the extinguisher; incase an internal examination is carried out. The collar should show the following
- The specific month when the inspection was carried out
- The agency name which did the task
Procedures of hydrostatic test
External and internal examination of the fire extinguisher starts the hydrostatic test. Many of the components of the fire extinguisher are removed so that it only contains a hose and shell and it has water filled in it that is kept for a specific time. All the water must be dried completely from the extinguisher and then the parts of the extinguisher are assembled again and it is recharged. The cylinder will fail this test in case of distortion, continuous movement of couplings and any leakage and the cylinder will be declared faulty
People doing hydrostatic tests should be aware of the procedure they are performing as it will be hazardous if the procedure is not correctly performed. People should be properly trained and they should be provided with proper equipment to conduct the test.
The hydrostatic test should be done at a specific interval which depends upon the sort of extinguisher as internal maintenance. Mostly, hydrostatic testing is carried out every five or twelve years depending upon the type of fire extinguisher
A tag is needed to be stamped to the low-pressure cylinders. It should have the following
- Person’s name who is performing the test
- The month in which the test was conducted
- The pressure which was maintained throughout the test
The top, foot ring, head, shoulder, and neck should be stamped with the date and tester recognition number in case of the high-pressure cylinders. Though It is a very important guide to maintenance, testing, and extinguisher inspection, each and every detail is not mentioned in the requirements of fire extinguishers. There are somehow different requirements for different extinguisher types.