If the movie 1984 didn’t make you cringe, then the State Fire Marshall’s version of 1984 just might. In 2012, the State Fire Marshall amended Title 19, Section 577.2 Obsolete Fire Extinguishers. And what an amendment it was. The section of code basically deals with fire extinguishers that cannot be utilized any longer. And making the list at number 14 was fire extinguishers manufactured and produced prior to 1984.
Many risk managers are surprised when fire extinguisher companies hand them a bill for thousands of dollars to replace perfectly good fire extinguishers. And why shouldn’t they be surprised? This isn’t the first time that the State Fire Marshall has passed regulations that cost California school districts millions of dollars. But in the name of safety, it’s time to open the wallet and replace those old, outdated, fire extinguishers.
Here’s the rationale behind the amendment of Section 577.2 Download the full initial statement of reasons
Section 577.2 (14) is being proposed to be amended to add Dry Chemical Fire Extinguishers manufactured prior to 1984 to the list of obsolete fire extinguishers that shall be removed from service at the next required 6-year maintenance or hydrostatic test.
Necessity: Major changes were made in 1984 to two UL Standards: (1) UL 299, Dry Chemical Fire Extinguishers and (2) UL 711, Rating and Fire Testing of Fire Extinguishers. Fire extinguishers must comply with both of the UL Standards as both are required for their listing. This only applies to those extinguishers as they are due for their 6-year maintenance or 12-year hydrostatic test. This lessens the economic impact on the consumer.
There were major changes in the following areas:
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(1) Hose Requirement
Chapter 6 of UL 299, 1984 edition, required extinguishers rated from 2A to 4A and 10B to 60B to be equipped with a discharge hose. Previously, directing the discharge to the base of the flame was difficult. The major accomplishment of the change was in making the operator use the fire extinguisher in the upright position. The addition of the hose simplifies the usage of the fire extinguisher.
(2) Minimum Discharge Time
UL 711, 1984 edition requires a minimum of 13-second discharge duration for an extinguisher rated 2A. Previously, fire extinguishers had discharge durations of only eight to ten seconds. The revision to the standard mandates a 50 percent to 60 percent increase in the minimum discharge duration for a 2A-rated dry chemical extinguisher.
(3) Pull Pins
UL 299, 1984 edition, requires a maximum of 30 pounds of force to remove a safety pin or pull pin from a fire extinguisher. Previously, this was not addressed in the standard. The standards also included a design requirement so the pin is visible from the front of the extinguisher unless noted by the operating instructions.
(4) Operating Instructions/Marking
UL 299, 1984 edition, required the use of pictographic operating instructions and use Code Symbols on fire extinguishers (Class D fire extinguishers and wheeled extinguishers are exempt). The result was a uniform, consistent set of easily understood symbols that makes using the extinguisher more understandable.
(5) Service Manuals
UL 299, 1984 edition, for the first time requires that manufacturers provide a service manual for their products and references to the service/maintenance manual on the extinguisher nameplate. This improves proper continued maintenance of the fire extinguisher while it is in service.