In order to ensure that they are available and operate properly when needed, both federal certification
requirements and state licensure requirements mandate that healthcare facilities properly inspect, test
and maintain their portable fire extinguishers [see NFPA 101(00), Sections 18/22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199;
MSFC(07), Sec. 906.2]. Unless otherwise indicated, this guide will focus on federal certification
NFPA 101(00), Sec. 188.8.131.52 and MSFC(07), Sec. 906.2 require that portable fire extinguishers be
inspected and maintained in accordance with NFPA 10, Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers.
NFPA 101(00), Sec. 2.1.1 references the 1998 edition of NFPA 10. MSFC(07), Chapter 45, on the
other hand, references the 2002 edition of the standard. For purposes of this guide, all code references
will be based on the 1998 edition of NFPA 10.
Portable fire extinguishers are required to be visually inspected when initially placed in service and at
least monthly thereafter [see NFPA 10(98), Sections 4-3.1]. These visual inspections, intended to help
ensure that each extinguisher is in its designated place and will operate if needed, can be performed by
“Maintenance” is a thorough examination and repair, as needed, of your facility’s portable fire
extinguishers and is covered in NFPA 10(98), Sec. 4-4. Maintenance is required at least once a year –
more frequently when indicated by a routine monthly inspection, as discussed earlier. Maintenance is
also required whenever extinguishers undergo hydrostatic testing.
Because maintenance is required to include a thorough examination of the mechanical parts,
extinguishing agent and expelling means of each portable fire extinguisher, it must be performed by an
approved extinguisher servicing company. A more detailed look at what annual maintenance entails
can be found in NFPA 10(98), Tables A-4-4.4.2(a) and A-4-4.4.2(b). It should be noted that new
tamper seals are required to be installed whenever maintenance is performed on rechargeable fire
extinguishers [see NFPA 10(98), Sec. 4-4.2.1].
Every 6 years, stored pressure fire extinguishers that require a 12-year hydrostatic test (e.g. dry
chemical extinguishers) must be emptied and proper maintenance procedures performed [see NFPA
10(98), Sec. 4-4.3]. The exception to this rule is nonrechargeable extinguishers, which are required to
be removed from service 12 years from the date of manufacture. Again, this maintenance must be
performed by an approved extinguisher servicing company.
At certain intervals, fire extinguishers are required to be pressure tested using water or some other
noncompressible fluid to help prevent unwanted failure or rupture of the cylinder [see NFPA 10(98),
Chapter 5]. This is called hydrostatic testing and includes both an internal and external examination of
the cylinder. Because this testing requires special training and equipment, it needs to be performed by
an approved extinguisher servicing company.
Hydrostatic testing intervals for fire extinguishers are outlined in NFPA 10(98), Sec. 5-2 and Table 5-
2. Test intervals for some of the most commonly found extinguishers are as follows:
• Pressurized water, carbon dioxide and wet chemical extinguishers – every 5 years
• Dry chemical extinguishers – every 12 years
As mentioned earlier, the exception to the rule for hydrostatic testing is nonrechargeable stored
pressure extinguishers (e.g. dry chemical extinguishers), which are required to be removed from
service 12 years from the date of manufacture.
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