International Fire Code, NFPA ,Cities and some counties require every business or place of assembly to have a functioning fire extinguisher(s) on the premises. A business’s insurance policy and/or the state agency having jurisdiction dictate the presence of a fire extinguisher or fire extinguishing system. The extinguishers and systems are required to be inspected on a minimum of an annual basis. To pass inspection the fire extinguisher must:
Be appropriately mounted to a fixed structure
Fire extinguishers weighing less than 40 lbs must be mounted on a permanent structure between three and five feet from the floor.
The extinguisher must be unobstructed for ease of access
It is recommended that fire extinguishers are mounted in an area of egress. This allows for them to be properly utilized but allowing the user to have a safe exit from the emergency.
Properly located within the structure
It must be within 75 foot of unobstructed walking distance. In areas involving petroleum products such as vehicle maintenance a 10lb BC fire extinguisher must be present. It must be appropriately mounted and be within a 50 foot unobstructed walking distance. A large structure may require multiple fire extinguishers to comply with local code. In most cases a 5lb ABC dry chemical will cover a 3000 square foot area.
Be of proper type and size for the fire load involved
The size and type are dictated by the authority having jurisdiction (local fire marshal) which is based on the fire load of the business. For instance a retail gift shop less than 3000 square foot in size may only require one 5lb ABC fire extinguisher, but same size structure with a candle shop or pool chemical store may require two 5lb ABC fire extinguishers located at opposite ends of the store.
Proof of annual inspection
Annually every fire extinguisher in a business or place of assembly must be inspected by a licensed technician who is employed by a licensed firm. If the fire extinguisher is not damaged, the hose is free of debris, has not been discharged, is maintaining the correct pressure, and is mounted appropriately it can receive an inspection tag certifying the extinguisher for another year. The inspection tag is punched on the month and year of the inspection. It is within compliance up until one year from that time.
At six years from the manufacture date on a dry chemical (most ABC extinguishers) the extinguisher must have maintenance performed. The maintenance consists of a removal of the handle, stem, internal parts and chemical. The interior is inspected to verify the integrity of the pressure vessel. Once it is determined that the cylinder is free from damage or defect it is then reassembled and charged for service. The maintenance consists of a removal of the handle, stem, internal parts and chemical. The interior is inspected to verify the integrity of the pressure vessel. Once it is determined that the cylinder is free from damage or defect it is then reassembled and charged for service. A leak test is performed and a new annual inspection tag is attached.
At twelve years from the manufacturers date the extinguisher must undergo hydrostatic testing. Once it is verified serviceable it is recharged, a hydrostatic test sticker or stamp is attached and the extinguisher is returned to service. CO2 extinguisher maintenance dates and hydrostatic dates are five and ten years from the manufacturer date.
It is recommended that a monthly “check” of the fire extinguisher(s) be performed by a designated employee, supervisor, or owner. On the back of the inspection tag there is a place to initial that the monthly inspection was performed. Once again they are looking for damage, vandalism, improper pressure, or a missing fire extinguisher. This does not constitute an annual inspection by a licensed technician.
Cities and counties have fire, building, and health inspectors that make annual visits to businesses within their jurisdiction to verify compliance. Non compliance usually dictates a written warning with a time limit to correct the violation. The time limit can vary dependent upon the violation and hazard(s) involved. Persistent noncompliance can necessitate a fine and possibly refusal of the business to operate until the violation is corrected.
General Fire Equipment has a fleet of mobile technicians certified to perform these inspections at customer facilities. Let our technicians give you the peace of mind that your extinguishers are code compliant. We can develop an inspection program that best meets your needs with as little interruption to operations as possible. Let us make sure your extinguishers are able to keep your employees safe!