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How do I perform a monthly inspection on portable fire extinguishers?

Fire extinguishers are devices commonly found indoors and are used to douse fire and prevent its spread. They are small metal canisters that contain compressed gas (usually nitrogen) that, when activated, propel a directed spray of flame-retardant chemicals. Fire extinguishers are only effective if building occupants understand where and why they are used. ANSI/UL 711, Standard for Rating and Fire Testing of Fire Extinguishers. NFPA 10, 4-3.1 Frequency. Fire extinguishers shall be inspected when initially placed in service and thereafter at approximately 30-day intervals. Fire extinguishers shall be inspected at more frequent intervals when circumstances require.

 The following types of fire extinguishers are considered obsolete and shall be removed from service:

  1. Soda acid
  2. Chemical foam (excluding film-forming agents)
  3. Vaporizing liquid (e.g., carbon tetrachloride)
  4. Cartridge-operated water
  5. Cartridge-operated loaded stream
  6. Copper or brass shell (excluding pump tanks) joined by soft solder or rivets
  7. Carbon dioxide extinguishers with metal horns
  8. Solid charge-type AFFF extinguishers (paper cartridge)

The selection of fire extinguishers for a given situation shall be determined by the character of the fires anticipated, the construction and occupancy of the individual property, the vehicle or hazard to be protected, ambient-temperature conditions, and other factors. The number, size, placement, and limitations of use of

Fire extinguishers required shall meet the requirements.


* Use of halogenated agent fire extinguishers shall be limited to applications where a clean agent is necessary to extinguish fire efficiently without damaging the equipment or area being protected, or where the use of alternate agents can cause a hazard to personnel in the area.

Placement of portable fire extinguishers containing halogenated agents shall conform to minimum volume requirement warnings contained on the fire extinguisher name plates.

* Wheeled Fire Extinguishers. Wheeled fire extinguishers shall be considered for hazard protection where fulfillment of the following requirements is necessary:

1.High agent flow rates

2.Increased agent stream range

3.Increased agent capacity

4.High hazard areas


Selection by Hazard

Fire extinguishers shall be selected for the class(es) of hazards to be protected in accordance with the provincial/state and federal regulations for your sites

* Fire extinguishers for protecting Class A hazards shall be selected from types that are specifically listed and labeled for use on Class A fires. (For halon agent—type extinguishers,)

* Fire extinguishers for the protection of Class B hazards shall be selected from types that are specifically listed and labeled for use on Class B fires. (For halon agent-type extinguishers,)

* Fire extinguishers for protection of Class C hazards shall be selected from types that are specifically listed and labeled for use on Class C hazards. (For halon agent-type fire extinguishers,)

* Fire extinguishers and extinguishing agents for the protection of Class D hazards shall be of the types specifically listed and labeled for use on the specific combustible metal hazard.

Fire extinguishers for the protection of Class K hazards shall be selected from types that are specifically listed and labeled for use on Class K fires.

Portable fire extinguishers must be ready to use at all times. First, check the gauge on class ABC extinguishers to verify that the arrow is in the green area, indicating that it is has the appropriate amount of pressure to discharge the extinguishing agent. Next, check the pin and plastic seal on the handle. The pin should be secured into the handle with a plastic tie, indicating that the extinguisher has not been previously discharged. Also check the end of the hose to make sure it is free and clear of debris or other obstructions. Lastly, check to make sure that the fire extinguisher has been inspected within the last year by the vendor. If the fire extinguisher appears to be charged and ready to use, initial and date the monthly inspection tag.

Periodic inspection of fire extinguishers shall include a check of at least the following items:

  1. Location in designated place
  2. No obstruction to access or visibility
  3. Operating instructions on nameplate legible and facing outward
  4. *Safety seals and tamper indicators not broken or missing
  5. Fullness determined by weighing or “hefting”
  6. Examination for obvious physical damage, corrosion, leakage, or clogged nozzle
  7. Pressure gauge reading or indicator in the operable range or position
  8. Condition of tires, wheels, carriage, hose, and nozzle checked (for wheeled units)
  9. HMIS/GHS label in place
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