Class ‘K’ Fire Extinguisher Placard

I have a confession to make… I don’t know it all. I never have and never will. For those of you who know me, I’m sure you’re laughing at me right now, as many of you know what mistakes I’ve made in my career. But I’ve always tried to know and understand the ‘basics’, if you will. And when I didn’t know the answer right away, I was satisfied I could always find the answer in the appropriate codes or standards.

Well, I admit I was stumped on what appears to be an easy question. I visited a hospital recently who received a CMS validation survey, based on a complaint. The state agency who conducted the survey came in with multiple individuals and stayed for days pouring over documentation and examining the building with a fine-toothed comb for compliance with the Life Safety Code.

The hospital was cited 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 replied it was in NFPA 10 (1998 edition) so I went through that and could not find anything that remotely addressed a placard, let alone required it. Another call back to the surveyor at the state agency (he was pretty annoyed with me by now… I have that affect on some people) and he admitted he gave me the wrong standard (on purpose?). 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.