Q: What is the requirement for inspecting fire extinguishers in our medical office building? Is it different than what is expected in our hospital?
A: The monthly inspection and annual maintenance requirements for the portable fire extinguisher is the same for all occupancies, and does not change from facility to facility. NFPA 10, section 4-3.1 (1998 edition) requires monthly inspections for the following items:
- Make sure extinguisher is in its designated place
- Make sure the access to the extinguisher is not obstructed
- Make sure the operating instructions on the nameplate is legible and facing outward
- Make sure the safety seals and tamper indicators are not broken or missing
- ‘Heft’ the extinguisher to determine fullness (pick it up and hold it)
- Examine the extinguisher for obvious damage, corrosion, leakage or clogged nozzle
- Make sure the pressure gauge (if so equipped) is in the normal operating range
- For wheeled units, check the condition of the tires, wheels, carriage, hose, and nozzle
- Make sure the HMIS label is in place
This inspection needs to be recorded, preferably on the maintenance tag, with name (initials are acceptable) and date (month/day/year). This monthly inspection may be performed by anyone who has been trained and educated on how to inspect a fire extinguisher. An annual maintenance is required on all extinguishers by a certified and trained individual. Six-year maintenance includes emptying the contents of the extinguisher and an internal inspection is required. A 12 year hydro-test of the extinguisher is also required.