Certification for Annual FE Maintenance?

Q: I read in one of your posts that the annual maintenance service of fire extinguishers does not require to be conducted by a “certified” individual.  I was under the impression that the annual servicing or recharging of a fire extinguisher must be done by a certified individual. I know the monthly can be done by anybody but I thought the annual was different. Was this requirement recently changed?

A: According to NFPA 10 (1998 edition) section 4-1.4, it says annual maintenance, servicing and recharging shall be performed by trained persons having available the appropriate servicing manuals, the proper types of tools, recharge materials, lubricants, and manufacturer’s recommended replacement parts or parts specifically listed for use in the fire extinguisher. Nowhere does it say the person has to be certified.

However, there was a change as you questioned. NFPA 10 (2010 edition) section does say the person performing the annual maintenance and recharging must be certified. So when the 2012 Life Safety Code is finally adopted, that’s when the 2010 edition of NFPA 10 becomes effective and the annual maintenance and recharging must be accomplished by a certified individual.

The Annex section of NFPA 10 (2010 edition) says persons performing annual maintenance and recharging of extinguishes should meet one of the following criteria:

  1. Factory trained and certified for the specific type and brand of portable fire extinguisher being serviced
  2. Certification by an organization acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction
  3. Registration, licensure, or certification by a state or a local authority having jurisdiction

Certification confirms that a person has fulfilled specific requirements as a fire extinguisher service technician and has earned the certification. Supporters of this change wanted the technicians to be certified to ensure the portable fire extinguishers will function properly when needed. Those who opposed this change stated it was championed by a special interest group, to ensure more work would be directed to their constituents.

For whatever reason, the change will be law once the new 2012 LSC is adopted.