Nov 24 2014

Portable Fire Extinguishers

Category: Business Occupancy,Fire Extinguishers,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 6:00 am
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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.


Oct 20 2014

Fire Extinguisher Bar-Code Labels

Category: Fire Extinguishers,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 6:00 am
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Q:  Our administration wants us to discontinue applying bar-code labels on each extinguisher in our facility, and begin applying the labels on the cabinets and walls where the extinguishers are located. Do you see this being an issue for us down the road?

A: It would be interesting to understand why your administration wants this change made. I have seen bar-coding done both ways: label the extinguisher vs. label the location of the extinguisher. I don’t see it as a problem, either way. NFPA 10 (1998 edition) section 4-3.4.3 says records of the monthly inspection must be kept on a tag or label attached to the extinguisher; on an inspection checklist maintained on file; or in an electronic system (e.g. bar coding) that provides a permanent record. The standard does not say the bar-code label has to be on the extinguisher, so logic says it can be located near the extinguisher. This is subject to state and local authorities’ interpretation of the standard, as they may want the label in a specific location. I personally would want to label the asset rather than the asset location.


Aug 18 2014

Special Fire Extinguisher Placard

Category: Fire Extinguishers,Kitchens,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 6:00 am
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Q: Do we have to have a special placard on our fire extinguishers in our kitchen, alerting people to activate the cooking hood fire suppression system first, before using the fire extinguishers? We received a citation from a surveyor on this issue.

 A:  The answer is yes, but I admit I was not aware of this requirement until recently. A hospital-client of mine was cited by their state surveyor for not having a placard near the Class K fire extinguishers informing the staff not to use the fire extinguisher until the cooking hood fire suppression system had been activated. I had never heard of this, so I contacted the surveyor at the state agency and asked what code or standard required this. He said it was in NFPA 96 (1998 edition), and sure enough, there it was in section 7-2.1.1: “A placard identifying the use of the extinguisher as a secondary means to the automatic fire suppression system shall be conspicuously placed near each portable fire extinguisher in the cooking area.” Now, the standard says ‘each portable fire extinguisher in the cooking area’, but the state surveyor cited just the Class K extinguishers. I learned something new that day, so I considered it a successful day. If you don’t have those placards near all of your extinguishers in the cooking areas of your establishment, then I suggest you consider them, before you get cited.

 


Dec 16 2013

Fire Extinguisher Signs

Category: Fire Extinguishers,Questions and Answers,SignsBKeyes @ 6:00 am
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Q: During a recent survey we were almost cited because one of the fire extinguisher signs was on the front of the fire extinguisher cabinet and the rest were above the cabinets. The surveyor warned us that all of the signs needed to be the same. Is that true?

A: Well, I’m glad the surveyor did not cite you for this. If he/she had, you could have easily appealed this away after the survey. The 2000 edition of the LSC requires compliance with NFPA 10 Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers (1998 edition). Section 1-6.12 of NFPA 10 says fire extinguishers mounted in cabinets or wall recesses must be placed so that the fire extinguisher operating instructions face outward. The location of such fire extinguishers must be marked conspicuously. Section 1-6.6 says extinguishers should not be obstructed, but if they are then ‘means shall be provided to indicate the location’ and the Annex portion of 1-6.6 describes acceptable means, such as arrows, lights, signs, or coding of the wall or column. Nowhere does it say all of the fire extinguishers have to be marked the same way or method. Now, I’ll admit that it is obvious to me that they all should be marked the same way for continuity purposes, but I do not see where the standard requires that. Therefore, based on your comment that the surveyor ‘almost’ cited you but did not, indicates to me that he/she felt the same way that I do that the extinguishers should be marked the same way, but it is not a standard requirement, therefore no citation was made. So, no the extinguisher cabinets don’t have to be marked the same way, but it sure makes sense to do so. I suggest you have someone correct this so they all are marked the same way.


Jun 03 2013

Fire Extinguishers in Parking Garage

Q: Are we required to have portable fire extinguishers in our parking garages?

A: No. The placement of portable fire extinguishers is dependent on the requirements for that particular occupancy requirement. A parking garage is regulated under NFPA 88A Standard for Parking Structures, (1998 edition) and nowhere in that standard does it require the placement of portable fire extinguishers. It does address whether or not a sprinkler system or a fire alarm system is required, but it does not address portable fire extinguishers. As always, check with your local and state authorities to determine if they have any requirements for extinguishers.


Jul 15 2012

Contractor’s Fire Extinguishers

Category: Fire Extinguishers,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 5:00 am
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Q: Is the hospital responsible for the fire extinguishers supplied by the contractors while they are performing work in our hospital? We had a surveyor cite us for not performing monthly inspections on a fire extinguisher that did not belong to us, but was on a construction site in the hospital.

A: Yes, the hospital is responsible for all fire extinguishers in your facility or on your property, regardless who owns the first-aid devices. According to section 19.3.5.6 of the 2000 edition of the LSC, compliance with section 9.7.4.1 is required. Section 9.7.4.1 in turn requires compliance with NFPA 10 Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers, 1998 edition for installation, inspections and maintenance. Section 1-2 states that NFPA 10 is prepared for the use and guidance of persons charged with selecting, purchasing, installing, approving, listing, designing and maintaining portable fire extinguishers. The Annex section of 1-2 continues to say that the owner or occupant of a property in which a fire extinguisher is located has an obligation for the care and use of the extinguishers at all times. This standard does not differentiate as to who owns the extinguishers, it simply states the owner of the building is responsible. When an accreditation organization surveys the hospital for compliance with the LSC, they are surveying the hospital, not the contractors. The actions and operations of contractors are your responsibility as long as they are on your property, therefore you are responsible for the extinguishers. This is why I always prohibited contractors from bringing their own extinguishers into the hospital where I worked. I insisted that the hospital provide adequate extinguisher coverage, and I supervised where they were located and when they were inspected. My advice is to never rely on a contractor to comply with a LSC requirement.


Feb 01 2012

Contract for Maintenance of Portable Fire Extinguishers

Category: Fire Extinguishers,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 9:43 pm
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Q:  Is there any formal requirement to have a “contract” with a fire extinguisher company for extinguisher maintenance? I have a copy of their credentials but recently was I lead to believe that we needed a formal contract.

A:  The 2000 edition of the LSC requires compliance with NFPA 10 Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers, (1998 edition) which does not require any special type of contract with the agency performing the extinguisher maintenance. Also, the 1998 edition of NFPA 10 does not require any certification or licensure for the person or entity that performs the annual maintenance. The Joint Commission standards and the CMS Conditions of Participation do not have any language that requires a contract. So, unless your local or state authority has any special requirements regarding fire extinguisher maintenance, I believe it is safe to say there is no requirement for a contract on fire extinguisher maintenance.


Sep 01 2011

Travel Distance Requirement to Fire Extingushers

Category: Fire Extinguishers,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 8:54 pm
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Hazard Classification

Hazard Type

Minimum Fire

Extinguisher Rating

Travel Distance

Class A

Low

2-A

75   ft

Class A

Moderate

2-A

75   ft

Class A

High

4-A

75   ft

Class B

Low

5-B

30   ft

10-B

50   ft

Class B

Moderate

10-B

30   ft

20-B

50   ft

Class B

High

40-B

30   ft

80-B

50   ft

Class C

A Class C fire is started by an electrical means, but the fire itself is either a Class A or a Class B fire. Therefore, the travel distance and the size and type of extinguisher must be sized and located on the basis of the anticipated Class A or Class B hazard.

Class K

A   Class K extinguisher must be provided where hazards exists involving combustible cooking oils or fat.

30   ft

Source: NFPA 10 (1998 edition)


Sep 01 2011

Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers

Category: Fire Extinguishers,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 8:31 pm
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Q: Can you direct me to the standard that states we must have a CO2 fire extinguisher in the operating rooms of our surgery department? Our operations chief insists a CO2 fire extinguisher must be installed in every operating room, and our director of surgery is resistant to the idea.

A: There is no Life Safety Code® (LSC) requirement that says you have to have a CO2 fire extinguisher (or any other type of fire extinguisher, for that matter) inside the operating rooms. Section 19.3.5.1 of the LSC refers to section 9.7.4.1, which requires you to follow NFPA 10 Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers (1998 edition) as far as placement, classification, and capacity.

Since you mentioned a CO2 fire extinguisher, I will discuss the required placement for those. A CO2 fire extinguisher is a Class B:C type fire extinguisher, meaning it is rated to extinguish fire involving flammable liquids and energized electrical sources.

A risk assessment is required to determine if in fact you actually have flammable liquids in the particular operating room that you are interested in. If you don’t, then a Class B:C fire extinguisher is not required in that area. If you do, then your assessment needs to identify if the quantities of the flammable liquids are low, moderate, or high (it had better not be moderate or high…that’s plain weird for an OR).

Assuming it is low, you then need to place a Class B:C fire extinguisher (which could include but is not limited to a CO2 extinguisher) either 30 feet from the flammable liquids or 50 feet, depending on the capacity rating of the Class B:C extinguisher. All fire extinguishers are labeled with their approved capacity rating, such as 5-B:C, or 10-B:C rating. A 5-lb. CO2 fire extinguisher is typically (but not always) rated as 5-B:C, which would make the travel distance from the flammable liquid hazard to the extinguisher no more than 30 feet. If the Class B fire extinguisher is rated at 10-B:C (typically a 10-lb CO2 extinguisher, but not always) then the travel distance is allowed to be 50 feet, but not more. [Refer to the sidebar on page 11 for travel distances].

When flammable liquids are present in the operating rooms many hospitals decide to include a Class B:C CO2 fire extinguisher to provide a safer environment for their patients and staff. Other hospitals decide to place them outside the operating rooms but within the allotted travel distance. Either is fine and permissible.


May 01 2011

CO2 Fire Extinguishers in Operating Rooms

Category: Fire Extinguishers,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 8:01 pm
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Q: Can you tell me if there is a requirement for the operating rooms to have a CO2 fire extinguisher inside the rooms themselves? Our hospital received a citation by the physician surveyor on this issue for not having them in the operating rooms. Our local fire marshal has told us to place the sterile water-mist extinguishers in each room, which we did. What do you think?

A: There is no Joint Commission, CMS or NFPA requirement to have a CO2 fire extinguisher inside the operating room. The Joint Commission standards refer to NFPA 10-1998 Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers on placement, inspection, maintenance and testing of fire extinguishers. CO2 extinguishers are used on Class B fires which are for flammable liquids. If there is a potential of flammable liquids in the operating room, then you would have to have an extinguisher with a Class B rating within either 30 feet or 50 feet of the hazard, depending on the level of hazard and the rating of the extinguisher. This can be accomplished by having a Class B extinguisher in the hallway outside of the operating rooms. There is no requirement for extinguishers to be located inside the operating room. However, since your local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) has requested that sterile water-mist extinguishers be placed in every operating room, this constitutes a risk assessment and is a valid course of action to take when the standards and codes do not have a direct requirement. Therefore, the surveyor cannot cite you for not having CO2 extinguishers inside the operating rooms. [NOTE: Water-mist extinguishers are not Class B extinguishers, but are Class A/C. If flammable liquids are present in the operating rooms, then a Class B extinguisher would have to be located with the appropriate travel distance of the hazard.]  One last thing: The issue of a CO2 extinguisher placed inside the operating room is the surveyor’s opinion and it’s a good one. Surveyors are taught to be consultative and make suggestions on “best practice”. In this case though, it sounds like the surveyor crossed the line and confused “best practice” with a standard requirement.


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