The National Fire Protection Association is a global nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. NFPA is widely known for its codes and standards which establish criteria for building, processing, design, service, and installation of fire protection systems. Several NFPA codes are being updated for 2017, here we will discuss some of the changes to NFPA 10, which covers Portable Fire Extinguishers.
All fire extinguishers must be given a brief visual inspection each month and a thorough annual inspection. Testing and servicing is required on a regular basis, the timing depends on the type of extinguishers you have. All fire extinguishers should be serviced or replaced after use.
A.188.8.131.52 was updated to say if a tamper seal is found to be missing from a non-rechargeable extinguisher, the extinguisher should be removed from service. This primarily affects extinguishers not purchased from a professional life safety company, as after the extinguisher has been used (and the tamper seal removed for use) the extinguisher will need to be disposed of and replaced. If you have rechargeable fire extinguishers and a Life Safety Partner performing regular inspections and maintenance of them, then you partner will be able to collect, service, and refill your extinguisher after use which will include replacing the tamper seal.
Wheeled Extinguisher Hoses
7.7.1 requires wheeled extinguisher hose to be uncoiled and examined on annual basis. A.184.108.40.206 updated to support rapid deployment without kinking. Your Life Safety Partner should add this to your regular annual inspections.
Extinguishers Covers and Strap-Type Brackets
Extinguisher protective covers are now specifically recommended for extinguishers susceptible to environmental damage (A.220.127.116.11). Consult your Life Safety Partner for covers or special mounting equipment, like strap type vehicle brackets.
Extinguishers must be installed in locations so extinguishers are visible (18.104.22.168.1). An exception (22.214.171.124.2) requires signs or other means be installed where visual obstructions can’t be avoided. Signs are to be installed in close proximity to these extinguishers, visible from path of travel. Check to make sure all of your extinguishers are properly marked.
All extinguishers manufactured before 1955 are now considered obsolete (126.96.36.199.4.1) requires all pre-1984 dry chemical stored pressure extinguishers to be replaced immediately.
This information is based on first and second draft revisions to the NFPA code for 2017. A1 strives to ensure the information we provide in our blogs is accurate, the information we provide is based on research and our understanding of State Fire Codes and NFPA regulations. You should always review the complete NFPA standards and local codes for where you are, as local and state requirements may differ.
When selecting doors for your facility, it is equally important to consider life safety, security, and ADA compliance. The following post outlines national standards for these issues, but you should always check your local code to ensure compliance when selecting fire doors.
Standards set by: National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101’s Life Safety Code
Purpose: Fire safety
NFPA 101’s Life Safety Code specifies guidelines for fire doors, which prevent the flow of toxic smoke and fumes throughout the facility in the event of a fire. Fire doors are rated for their fire resistant and protection based on how long they can withstand exposure to fire test conditions. The rating of fire doors must match that of the wall on which they are installed, although fire walls are able to rate higher than fire doors. When this happens, the highest rated door is used. For example, a fire wall can be rated at 4 hours, but fire doors and frames can only rate as high as 3 hours. So a 3-hour door is used on a 4 hour rated wall. Fire doors are required to be inspected and maintained on an annual basis.
Standards set by: Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA)
Purpose: Protect people and property
BHMA’s standards outline the performance parameters of door hardware to protect people and property. These standards ensure that doors and related hardware are sturdy enough to withstand normal use, abuse and even break-in attempts. The door products and hardware are tested and certified by BHMA to ensure compliance. Be aware, these certifications ensure a minimum standard – they are not a recommendation for top performing doors and hardware.
Standards set by: ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Standards for Accessible Design
Purpose: Providing access to people with disabilities
If you own or manage a facility that is open to the public, you need to ensure that all people are able to independently access and exit the building. The ADA Standards for Accessible Design are issued by the Department of Justice and provides guidelines on accessibility. The International Code Council (ICC) provides specifics on how hardware should be installed and function to provide this accessibility.
It is imperative that you check the local code for what is required from these standards can vary greatly. In general, all doors should allow everyone, including those with a wheelchair, to
pass through. Exit doors should have a simple operation, such as pushing, to open it. Exit doors, and directional signs to exit doors, should be marked with tactile signs. This primer for small businesses is an easy overview of ADA requirements for commercial buildings. [https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/smallbusiness/smallbusprimer2010.htm]
Not every building can use photoluminescent exit signs; but if you can, why would you?
Exit Signs are a first line of defense for emergency situations. Traditional exit signs operate on batteries recharged by electrical power, which means additional costs for electricity, installation, plus regular maintenance and inspections.
Most facilities continue to utilize the old incandescent lamp technology which is maintenance intensive and prone to failure. Regular inspections are required and necessary to ensure optimal performance in an emergency situation.
Photoluminescent exit signs are a relatively new technology that absorb ambient light and then illuminates, or glows in the dark, using the stored energy. These signs have recently been approved by OSHA and UL (Underwriters Laboratories) rated for use under specific conditions.
To meet the qualifications set to use photoluminescent signs and to charge the sign properly, the ambient light of the building must provide 54 lux at the face of the sign. In case you can’t tell by just looking at your lighting, a professional service provider can measure the ambient light of the building and let you know if you are able to use photoluminescent exit signs. Buildings using photoluminescent exit signs must also have access to light switches or dimmers restricted – you have to keep the lights on to charge your exit sign.
Photoluminescent exit signs are becoming more popular because of the very unique benefits they have to offer. Since the signs store energy from the buildings ambient lighting the signs require no connection to power, no battery, and no light bulbs or related maintenance, eliminating the cost of upkeep. The lifespan of a glow in the dark light in normal conditions is upwards of 25 years and the light will remain visible for up to 9 hours in total darkness once the light is fully “charged.”
These exit signs must still be tested and documented every 30 days for 30 seconds and annually for 90 minutes. The sign must stay visibly illuminated for the duration of the test. A visual inspection must also be done to ensure the sign is clean and not damaged. If the sign is dirty or damaged it should be wiped down with soap and water or replaced.
Photoluminescent signs offer a much more reliable, cost-effective exit sign solution for buildings that meet the NFPA requirements. Your service provider can tell you if your building meets the NFPA requirements to use photoluminescent exit signs, and can install them properly for you.
Portable extinguisher locations are dependent on both the hazards and the occupancy types. A school will experience different hazards than a doctor’s office. Translating NFPA requirements can be tricky. Here’s the code down to the safest, most basic minimums.
An ABC extinguisher is the most commonly used extinguisher in facilities today. These extinguishers provide coverage for areas with normal combustibles, flammable liquids, and electrical fires. ABC’s are a fundamental necessity for light to ordinary hazard areas such as schools or offices. Typically, though there are small exceptions depending on extinguisher size, these extinguishers should cover a maximum of 50 ft from a hazard.
D Class portable extinguishers suppress combustible metal fires. These extinguishers must be a maximum for 75 ft from the hazard. D’s require more attention during the selection process as their size requirements are dependent on the types of combustible metals present, as well as manufacturer recommendations.
K hazards are those involving cooking oils, grease, or any other combustible cooking media. K’s must be located at a maximum of 30 ft from the hazard. I also recommend using a kitchen hood suppression system for large cooking appliances.
CO2 extinguishers are used in special hazard areas consisting of equipment or processes of exceptionally high value, unique or irreplaceable assets (museums, archives, art galleries, records storage), or production is of greater value than the equipment itself. CO2’s usually accompany laboratories, mechanical rooms, fuel or battery stations, and flammable liquid storage areas. These extinguishes work by removing the oxygen that fire requires and by cooling the material that’s ablaze. CO2’s are best used for BC rated fires and are usually ineffective when used with an A rated fire. CO2’s must be located at a maximum of 75 ft from the hazard.
Clean Agent Extinguishers
Clean agent extinguishers consist of halons, halotrons and FE-36’s that leave no residue and cause no damage. Like the CO2’s extinguishers protect high-value assets such as computer rooms, telecommunications facilities, process control rooms, museums, archives, marine, hospitals, banks, laboratories, and airplanes. Clean agent extinguishers are ABC rated and must be located at a maximum of 75 ft from the hazard. As an additional note: Halon extinguishers have been discontinued due to their negative environmental effects. FE-36 extinguishers are the recommended replacement for halons.
Extinguishers require a monthly visual inspection to pinpoint any physical damage or tampering with the device. All extinguishers need an annual inspection performed by a certified professional.
Regular maintenance and testing can only help your facility. As they say, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Your fire protection equipment may appear to function on the surface, but failing to check the working order will leave you in a world of hurt. Systems will break down unexpectedly, and you may even shorten the life of your systems altogether. Here are 6 elements to building safety that are often neglected.
- Fire Sprinklers: On the surface, your system may seem to be in full working order. Unfortunately, most of the serious threats to a sprinkler system happen within. Pipe corrosion and valve trouble are just two examples. Follow the NFPA guidelines for regular sprinkler inspection and maintenance for your facility.
- Blocked Equipment: Any blocked safety equipment is not compliant and is a hazard. Check your sprinklers, exit signs, emergency exits and any other safety system that could be obstructed.
- Old Batteries and Lights: Exit signs use light bulbs and back up batteries to function. Neglected signs can have old, leaky batteries or light bulb outages. These issues are not detectable without opening the apparatus. Check each exit light according to NFPA standards to prevent deficiencies. Another option is to install photoluminescent lights. You can read about them here.
- Smoke Detectors: Smoke detector sensitivity should be tested regularly as well. Detectors that are too sensitive will trigger nuisance alarms. Conversely, detectors that are not sensitive enough may not detect the presence of smoke and will put occupants in danger.
- Fire Doors: NFPA has recently placed more stringent requirements on fire doors. Fire doors must be evaluated to make sure they’ll close and block fire when they need to.
- Emergency Plans: Besides your safety systems, you need an emergency action plan. Who uses the extinguishers? How will people get out? These questions are important for everyone’s safety. Changes in building layouts, or operations can make a plan outdated. If you already have an emergency plan, review it regularly. Most importantly, keep occupants informed. Hold a training, distribute instructions, or have signs so everyone knows how to get out.
Facilities management is an incredibly involved process. Something always needs to be fixed. Taking care of these 6 safety items would keep you ahead of the curve with less risk.
You Asked and We Heard! Here’s more on Types of Fire Extinguishers.
We’ve received quite a few requests to delve deeper into the types of fire extinguishers. If you missed our previous post, you should check out, “Choosing the Right Fire Extinguisher,” for an overview of the basic extinguisher types. We will feature specifics of each type monthly, until we run out of content or you tell us to stop.
Summarizing Foam Extinguishers
Foam extinguishers come in 2 forms: aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) and film-forming fluoroprotein foam (FFFP). AFFF and FFFP are appropriate choices for class A and B fires. Don’t forget, class A is for regular combustibles like paper and class B is for flammable liquids like gasoline.
When Will I Use a Foam Extinguisher?
In class A fires, the foam works as a coolant to reduce the temperatures below the ignition level. Foam extinguishers work especially well for class B fires where there are horizontal flammable liquid situations such as oil on water. The agent will float on top of the liquid, suffocating the flames and preventing reignition.
Word of Caution
Keep in mind, foam extinguishers are not suitable to use on pressurized fuel fires or cooking grease fires. Additionally, only some grades of foam extinguishers protect against water-soluble flammable liquids like alcohol. The nameplates on the extinguishers will provide more specific information.
Foam type extinguishers should not be used in freezing temperatures. NFPA 10 forbids mixing antifreeze with the foam agents, so a compliant foam extinguisher will not work in -40 degree weather. The exception to this rule is if the manufacturer provides special measures to prevent the agent from freezing.
AFFF and FFFP foam fire extinguishers present a shock hazard if used on fires involving energized electrical equipment.
Visit the NFPA website here for even more specifics. The content in this post was taken directly from NFPA 10.
Cooking is the leading cause of death and destruction from fires in the U.S. Cooking fires account for $16.4 million in property damage annually. Additionally, cooking was the leading cause of fire in all healthcare facilities (nursing home, hospital, mental health facility, clinic or doctors office) according to NFPA US Structure Fires in Health Care Properties Fact Sheet (download it here). Keeping up with your required kitchen hood system inspections is an important part of protecting lives and your facility.
Kitchen hood suppression systems are designed, tested, and approved to provide fire protection for commercial kitchen cooking appliances, hoods, and ducts.
Kitchen hood systems have an efficient, automatic detector response that acts fast to suppress flames. Kitchen hood systems eliminate the need for a constant supply of the suppressing agent and manual shut off of the appliance’s gas and electric, while blocking any danger of a violent reaction that may spread flame or spill cooking oil.
Facilities that should have kitchen hood systems:
- Gourmet Restaurants
- Sports Complexes
- Fast-Food Chains
- Retail Food Courts
- Convenience Stores
- Hotel Kitchens
- School Cafeterias
- Food Service Kitchens
Kitchen hood systems will extinguish fires caused by the following:
- Deep Fryers
- Upright Boilers
- Plenum Chambers
How Do Kitchen Hood Systems Work?
When a fire starts in a protected area, heat sensitive links activate the kitchen hood system. The system stops the cooking appliance’s gas and electric supply. An extinguishing agent releases through nozzles and onto the appliances, plenum and duct.
At the first sign of fire, remember to evacuate the building and call 911. Stand by with a K class extinguisher just in case the system fails to act or a re-flash occurs.
Types of Restaurant Fire Suppression Systems
Wet Chemical Systems
Wet chemical systems are the most commonly used kitchen hood system. The wet chemical agent suppresses fire by cooling and reacting chemically to produce a foam layer on the grease. The foam seals combustible vapors, stopping the flames from re-igniting.
Dry Chemical Systems
Dry chemical systems were used to extinguish flammable liquid fires involving live electrical equipment. Dry chemical interrupts the chemical reaction of fire by removing the oxygen from the source. When the multipurpose dry chemical is discharged, the agent leaves a residue on the burning material. The residue seals the material from the oxygen to suffocate the fire. Unfortunately, because deep fryers are much more insulated than in the past, dry chemical systems are not capable of extinguishing kitchen fires. UL 300 Systems are recommended as a good replacement for dry chemical kitchen hood systems.
UL 300 Wet System
UL 300 systems use wet chemicals to smother the fire (like dry chems) and to prevent re-ignition by cooling the flammable liquids (unlike dry chems). The UL 300 standard represents the heightened suppression innovation to accommodate new, hotter cooking methods and is currently the most effective way to suppress a kitchen hood fire. If you are due to change your kitchen hood system soon, most states will require you to update to a UL 300 system.
Living and Caring for Your Restaurant Fire Suppression System
Have a certified kitchen hood system professional inspect your kitchen hood system every 6-months and immediately after any major hood/duct cleaning. The system should be inspected overall and tested to verify that it is fully operational. Keep in mind that menu, preparation, and layout may require an update to your system. Any updates, again, require a professional.
While a professional should service, test, inspect, recharge or repair a system, NFPA asks system owners to perform a monthly inspection. This inspection is for visible problems with the kitchen hood system.
Check the following during your monthly visual inspection:
- The extinguishing system is in its proper location.
- The manual actuators are unobstructed.
- The tamper indicators and seals are intact.
- The maintenance tag or certificate is in place.
- No obvious physical damage or condition exists that might prevent operation.
- The pressure gauge(s), if provided, is in operable range.
- The nozzle blow-off caps are intact and undamaged.
- The hood, duct, and protected cooking appliances have not been replaced, modified, or relocated.
Supplement Your Kitchen Hood System
K-Class fire extinguishers are used to protect against kitchen hazards without leaving residue. These extinguishers are a great supplement to kitchen hood systems and should be present in any commercial cooking environment.
Sprinkler Savvy or Sprinklerstitious? Take This Test to Find Out.
There’s a lot of misinformation about fire sprinkler systems out there. Do you have the right information, or are you sprinklerstitious too?
Answer true or false to these statements. Scroll down for the answers and explanations to see how much you know!
1. Water damage from a sprinkler system costs more than the fire damage it prevents
2. Only one or two sprinkler heads go off when there’s a fire.
3. All you need is a smoke detector to save lives.
4. Sprinklers were designed to protect property, not so much lives.
5. Sprinklers don’t add too much additional cost to construction projects.
6. New buildings are much safer than older buildings.
7. Sprinkler systems can work fine in freezing temperatures.
8. Smoke detectors don’t set sprinklers off.
9. Smoke detectors will not put out a fire.
10. Most insurance companies value the use of fire sprinkler systems.
True or False Sprinkler Test Answers.
1. False. Water damage from a sprinkler will be much less severe than fire damage. Think of it this way, would you rather have your building get a little wet or let it burn to the ground.
2. True. Contrary to Hollywood portrayals, each sprinkler is individually activated. Only those affected by heat at 165 degrees will activate.
3. False. Smoke detectors save lives in offering a warning to get out. For people that have trouble moving, like the elderly, a sprinkler system will put out a fire early and keep everyone safe.
4. False. Sprinklers will protect both lives and property. In fact, statistics show that there has never been any multiple loss of life in a fully sprinklered building.
5. True. Sprinklers costs about 1-2% of the total construction costs. They are comparable to carpet costs, paved driveways, or adding a whirlpool bath.
6. False. Newer construction techniques make a facility much more susceptible to fire. You can learn more information from NFPA here.
7. True. With the right equipment, sprinkler systems will work fine in cold temperatures. You may need a dry pipe or preaction system as an alternative to water filled pipes.
8. True. Detectors are there to sense a fire and talk back to the panel. The panel will sound an alarm and notify the necessary parties to handle the emergency. Detectors will not set off the sprinklers.
9. False. Again, detectors offer warning, but will not put out any fires. You need some sort of suppression equipment for that.
10. True. Insurance companies will sometimes lower the value of your premiums and some are leading advocates for sprinkler systems.
So, are you sprinkler savvy, or sprinklerstitous? Do you have more questions? Click here to contact us.