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    New Certification Requirements in NFPA 10

    By Mark Conroy

    The following are questions on the new certification requirement in NFPA 10, Portable Fire Extinguishers. The answers are the opinion of the author, and they do not necessarily represent the position of the technical committee, or the NFPA, and may not be considered to be or relied upon as such.

    Q: Is there a mandatory requirement in NFPA 10 for certification?

    A: Yes. NFPA 10 paragraph requires that persons performing maintenance, servicing, and recharging be certified and have available the appropriate service manuals, proper tools, recharge materials, lubricants, and appropriate replacement parts for the fire extinguisher.

    Q: Is there a requirement in NFPA 10 that persons performing servicing on extinguishers become certified by a certain date?

    A: Yes. NFPA 10 section requires that certification of service personnel be required after August 17, 2008.

    Q: I work at a fire extinguisher servicing company, performing servicing on extinguishers. How does this apply to me?

    A: You should check locally, starting with the state fire marshal’s office, to see if this provision of NFPA 10 has been adopted locally. The requirement was written to direct the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) to require certification after the above date. The AHJ will ultimately determine if there is a deadline for becoming certified .new certification requirements in NFPA 10

    Q: I work for a large company with thousands of fire extinguishers. We currently have in-house technicians (employees of the company) that perform maintenance and recharging of our extinguishers. How does this apply to my company?

    A: You should also check with the state fire marshal’s office. It might be advantageous to develop an in-house certification program for your employees. Some of the organizations developing certification programs might partner with large companies, or share their information. An extension of the deadline might also be appropriate (a Tentative Interim Amendment is being processed to extend the deadline). You should develop your plan for compliance and submit it to the AHJ for consideration.

    Q: Besides the requirement in NFPA 10, if there is no local mandate that I become certified, what are the benefits of becoming a certified fire extinguisher service technician?

    A: All technicians should become proficient in their role as an extinguisher service technician. They should seek also seek credentials that demonstrate their knowledge in the discipline. Certification provides evidence for technicians to be recognized as professionals. Certificate holders enjoy the following benefits:

    • Documentation in compliance with the industry standard
    • Verification of technical knowledge
    • Professional recognition
    • Ability to use a professional credential for career growth
    • Professional stature among peers

    Q: What is licensing and how does it relate to certification?

    A: Not many states require licensing of extinguisher service personnel. For licensing, an AHJ develops rules that stipulate qualifications for a license. If licensing of persons performing servicing of fire extinguishers is required in a state, there is a rule or a law which stipulates the requirements. Normally a person that wants to be licensed would need to fill out an application, pay an application fee, and prove his/her qualifications. The rules often permit “grandfathering” for someone that has been performing the service for a number of years. Otherwise, the person normally needs to show experience, education, take a test, or a combination of these, in order to prove his/her qualifications. Sometimes the licensing references certification as a prerequisite.

    Q: How do I choose a certification program that is right for me?

    A: The certificate is only as good as the program being offered for qualification. There are currently several programs that are in the process of being developed. Over time, these programs will evolve and more programs will be developed, so that service technicians will have choices. Ultimately, the certification program selected by the service technician must be acceptable to the AHJ.

    This article first appeared in the NFPA Journal Magazine. Reprinted with permission from NFPA. Copyright 2008, NFPA, All Rights Reserved.

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