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    Never Leave an Area Unprotected

    By Mark Conroy


    NFPA 10, Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers mandates extinguishers be installed and maintained throughout buildings. They need to be there in case of a fire emergency. If you take an extinguisher out for servicing at your shop, a replacement extinguisher needs to be installed. Here’s the requirement:

    7.1.3 Replacement While Servicing. Fire extinguishers removed from service for maintenance or recharging shall be replaced by a fire extinguisher suitable for the type of hazard being protected and shall be of at least equal rating.

    Since the original installation is based on the hazard being protected, the easiest way to comply with this requirement is to match the extinguisher ratings. The rating can be found on the extinguisher nameplate. If you are removing an ABC dry chemical extinguisher for maintenance or recharge and that extinguisher has a rating of 2-A:10-B:C, then you can install a dry chemical extinguisher with a rating of 2-A:10-B:C in its place. You can also install an extinguisher with a higher rating. For example, a replacement extinguisher with a rating of 3-A:40-B:C would be code compliant because it has a higher rating than the one being removed. But remember, you can never go lower. The replacement extinguisher must have a rating that is equal or higher than the one being taken out for servicing.

    Every extinguisher must comply with the installation requirements in NFPA 10. For hand-held extinguishers, they must be installed on a hanger or in a bracket, cabinet, or wall recess. Here’s the requirement:

    6.1.3.4* Portable fire extinguishers other than wheeled extinguishers shall be installed using any of the following means:
    (1) Securely on a hanger intended for the extinguisher
    (2) In the bracket supplied by the extinguisher manufacturer
    (3) In a listed bracket approved for such purpose
    (4) In cabinets or wall recesses

    Many extinguishers are installed on wall hangers. Make sure the replacement extinguisher is installed in a hanger intended for the extinguisher. If you carry extra hangers that match the loaner extinguishers in your service vehicle, you’ll always have the right one that is ready for installation. Never install a replacement extinguisher on the wrong hanger, even for a short time. It is never a safe installation and it won’t be code compliant.

    Every building needs portable fire extinguishers for the protection of the property and the occupants. If you remove an extinguisher to recharge it or for maintenance, never leave the area unprotected. Always install replacement extinguishers that match the hazards and have ratings that are at least equal to the existing extinguishers. Additionally, carry wall hangers that match your loaner extinguishers. Following this simple advice will make your customer’s property fire safe and code compliant.


    Mark Conroy is an engineer in our Boston, MA office and a member of the NFPA 10 Technical Committee on Portable Fire Extinguishers. Copyright © 2016, all rights reserved.

    Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the above Tech Series article are the author’s only and provide limited information. Although the information is believed to be reliable, Brooks Equipment Company, LLC expressly disclaims any warranty with respect to the information and any liability for errors or omissions. The user of this article or the product(s) is responsible for verifying the information’s accuracy from all available sources, including the product manufacturer. The authority having jurisdiction should be contacted for code interpretations.


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