Per the Alberta Fire Code 2014, Portable Fire Extinguishers must be maintained in operable condition, and must be inspected and tested in accordance with NFPA 10. This standard defines the minimum requirements, but higher standards may be required by your insurer or based on the type of facility.
Per NFPA 10 Standard on Portable Fire Extinguishers, the following checks shall be performed on Portable Fire Extinguishers on a monthly basis. This is a summary, the complete text can be found in sections 7.2.2, 188.8.131.52, and 184.108.40.206 of NFPA 10-2013.
This check can be performed by the owner or their agent, but a record must be kept either on the tag or an inspection checklist, and must record the initials of the person performing the inspection and the month/year of the inspection. Records must be retained for a minimum of 12 months.
- In the correct location
- No obstruction to access or visibility
- Pressure gauge is in the green
- Fullness determined by hefting
- Operating instructions are legible & face outward
- Check for missing tags or broken tamper seals
- Examine for obvious physical damage, corrosion, leakage, or clogged nozzle
Monthly inspections are available as a recurring service on request. Minimum charges apply, and service is handled on an at-our-convenience basis.
Portable fire extinguishers must be inspected by a certified technician employed by a certified shop a minimum of once every 12 months. It is best to have this inspection performed on site, allowing the technician to assess proper coverage of the structure and hazards in addition to checking the condition of the extinguisher itself. Cartridge operated extinguishers(commonly used in the oilfield) require internal maintenance every year, making our mobile extinguisher service shop ideal for servicing facilities with large numbers of these. It only takes a couple minutes to inspect and certify a Portable Fire Extinguisher, but properly documenting a facility inspection will take longer. The amount of time to properly inspect a facility will depend on it's size, and on the number of Portable Extinguishers. Any Portable Extinguishers that are found to required Recharge, Maintenance, Hydro-Testing, or Repairs will be noted in the report.
The most common type of Portable Fire Extinguisher is the Dry Chemical Stored Pressure, and it requires an internal inspection every 6 years, and a hydro-static pressure test every 12 years. Other less common types will require hydro-static pressure testing at 5 year intervals. We can perform most of this maintenance, as well as recharging after use, in our mobile shop when the location or quantity of work makes it appropriate. The main exception is CO2 extinguishers which require high-pressure equipment and must be taken to our main shop on Wagner Road for recharge or hydro-static testing.
what to expect
Technicians can perform facility inspections mostly independently unless the client requires escort. Access will be required anywhere an extinguisher is present, and should be allowed for the entire facility to provide a complete assessment. The inspection generally will not interfere with operations. Technicians can only check what they know is present, so the client should be prepared to provide a list, or go over our report with the technician afterward to determine if any units were missed.
Depending on the condition of the units needing service, and the quantity, they may be permanently exchanged(with an equivalent unit that has recent maintenance), temporarily replaced with loaners and removed from site for work, or our mobile shop may be dispatched for a follow-up service call.
Our Wagner Road location normally has at least one portable extinguisher technician available to quickly re-certify one or two extinguishers while you wait. It is however generally best to call ahead and make sure everyone is not out performing facility inspections or making deliveries. If maintenance or repair is needed even small orders will usually go in the queue, but loaners are available.
Normal turn-around for in shop work is approximately one week, but depends on demand. Drop-off and pick-up is at the back of the shop. When an extinguisher is left for certification it is with the understanding that maintenance and repairs will be performed if needed. The client will be notified by phone or email when the order is complete and ready for pickup.
Pick-up and drop-off service at your facility is available for an additional charge.
Maintenance vs Repairs
Rates for standard types of maintenance include all normally replaced parts and labels, as well as inspection/certification. Repairs are charged in addition to maintenance when needed. Common items in this category are: Hose Bands, Pull Pins, Valve Stems, HMIS Labels, Handles and Levers. We have a maximum capped charge for Maintenance + Repairs which is equivalent to the volume purchase price of an extinguisher that size, to prevent a client from paying more for service than a replacement would cost.
Recharge vs Refill
Recharging a dry chemical portable extinguisher refers to the process of cleaning and lubricating the valve assembly, and replacing the nitrogen propellant. This is done after maintenance is performed, or if the valves did not seal properly and the pressure leaked out.
Refilling a dry chemical portable extinguisher is performed in addition to a recharge, and refers to replacing the dry chemical powder if it has been used. This chemical is billed as a part by the pound in addition to the recharge rate. When performing maintenance(6-year or hydro-testing), the powder in the extinguisher is captured and reused, and so there is no additional charge unless the extinguisher was also used.
On Site Fire Protection includes the first 5 pounds of dry chemical at no cost on all recharges. This means an empty 5lb extinguisher would only be billed for the recharge, while an empty 20lb extinguisher would be billed for 15lbs of powder in addition to the recharge.
There are a few items the client must do to prepare for an inspection
- List or walk-through - we can only inspect what we know is there. If you have a list of extinguishers make sure there is a copy ready for our technician when they arrive. If you don't have a list then be prepared to spend some time going over the list our technician generates during their walk-through, and point out any that were missed.
- Access - Technicians will need access to all parts of the building that contain Portable Fire Extinguishers. This includes mechanical rooms, server rooms, out buildings and rooftops. Make arrangements to provide technicians with keys or escort as necessary
Rules of Thumb & FAQ
NOTE: These are general rules for informational purposes only. Consult with a certified Portable Fire Extinguisher Technician for any specific questions, or determining appropriate coverage for your facility.
Start at the exits and work your way in. That means doors and, on upper floors, the top of stairwells. A minimum of one extinguisher per level is required(including shop mezzanines). Small shops may only require one extinguisher, but it is still good practice to have one at each exit. After the exits are covered, check walking distance; from any point within the building there should be an extinguisher within 75 ft walking distance(not direct line) for low hazard environments or 50 ft for higher hazard environments. Size of extinguisher will be based on how much burnable stuff(fuel load) is in the area, and how easily burnable(flammability) that stuff is.
Extinguishers must be VISIBLE and ACCESSIBLE. This mean you must put them somewhere easy to get at(nothing in front of them) and easy to see from a distance. If they are not easily visible, then you will need signage to point them out. They cannot be left on the floor, and must be in a cabinet or mounted to the wall. The top of the extinguisher cannot be more than 5 ft from the ground, and heavy ones should be about waist height.
I only used a little bit, do I need to recharge it?
YES. Even if the needle is still in the green section, you still need to bring it in. The common dry chemical extinguishers use Nitrogen as propellant, and yellow powder to put the fire out. When you use the extinguisher the powder gets stuck in the valve assembly, holding it slightly open. The remaining nitrogen propellant will leak out slowly over the following weeks. Part of the recharging process includes cleaning all this up so the valve will seal properly again.
Do I need to shake it up?
If it is mounted in a building, it should be fine, the powder should not compact enough just sitting there to cause a problem. If it is in a vehicle, it is not a bad idea to loosen the powder regularly, as the vibration can pack the powder down. DO NOT HIT IT WITH A HAMMER. Turning it upside down and shaking gently should be enough, you should be able to hear and/or feel the powder shifting.
something is wrong, what should I do?
If you find something wrong with your extinguisher give us a call. If it needs service you can bring it in or we can schedule a service call. We recommend having a spare extinguisher available to provide coverage in case you do need to bring one in for service