Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fire Extinguisher Maintenance

When it comes to fire protection the maintenance of fire extinguishers is essential. For this life saving devices to properly work a qualified individual or set of individuals is tasked with this responsibility. If not done on a regular basis really unnecessary things may happen such as a lack of functionality of rupturing of the extinguisher. This has resulted in death and severe injury in the past. There is not a universal fire code in the United States. Most places require monthly inspection to guarantee that proper pressure is present and not obstructed. Yearly inspections also occur on the equipment by a qualified individual. For water and CO2 based models a hydrostatic pressure test is performed every five years. This same test is done every twelve years for dry chemical models.

Not too long ago the National Fire Protection Association and the ICC voted to get rid of the monthly inspection in favor of electronic monitoring. From the NFPA’s point of view this setup keeps an electronic log at its computer systems. This requires constant supervision and attention. This will look for all the same things that the monthly tests had. When and if problems are found the system will notify officials to quickly remedy the occurrence. This monitoring is available in both wired and wireless modes. Below are the United States’ standards on maintenance:

Internal Maintenance - For internal maintenance the following extinguishers are monitored by these time tables: Water – Annually, Foam- Every three years, Wet Chemical/CO2 – Every Five years and Dry Powder, Halon and Clean Agents – Every 6 years

From this point the extinguisher is purged of all chemicals to check for accuracy. After it passes all its tests the extinguisher is then replenished and ready to be sent out for use once again. Cartridge operated extinguishers should be looked at but they don’t require any verification of service label.

Maintenance Inspection: This is done every year. Every variety of extinguisher except for water based which must be recharged every year will have a full on fine toothed comb inspection. The fire protection based device is looked at to make sure its pressure is normal. That it’s extinguishing agent is at its proper volume it’ll be weighed by the technician during inspection. It must also fall within the guidelines of its hydrotest and meet the internal maintenance criteria too. Proper working condition and parts are looked for on the extinguisher. Dry chemical/powder varieties are tested via the hit of a rubber mallet. This is to test the flow of the powder in the extinguisher this process is called “fluffing”.

In all the process of fire extinguishers are important because it is a first line of defense in the event of a fire. A properly working and maintained extinguisher can save the day in most cases and without it working right you could be in serious trouble. Therefore it’s always a serious matter to make sure that you are well aware of this vital means of fire protection because you can never be too careful.

1 comment:

  1. Fire extinguishers should be maintained at regular intervals (at least once a year), or when specifically indicated by an inspection. Maintenance is a “thorough check” of the extinguisher.

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