Changes in NFPA Standard For Portable Extinguishers

Changes in NFPA Standard For Portable Extinguishers


Industrial Fire Safety

National Fire Protection Association Standard No. 10, “Installation of Portable Fire Extinguishers,” was amended at the NFPA annual meeting last May. The changes should be noted in your copies of the standard until new individual pamphlets or National Fire Code Volume 8 are available so that your inspections, reports and advice to others will be correct.

In many case, we will comment on particular numbered sections, reflecting our personal feelings from the long-neglected user viewpoint.

Paragraph 1011 was amended to insert after No. 12A—Halon 1301 systems, “No. 12B—Halon 1211 systems.”

Paragraph 1040 now reads: “The requirements given herein are minimum. Portable extinguishers are intended as a first line of defense to cope with fires of limited size. They are needed even though the property is equipped with automatic sprinklers, standpipe and hose, or other fixed protection equipment.”

Paragraph 1050 now reads: “The method of operation of an extinguisher shall be indicated prominently on the extinguisher and shall face outward.” This is an excellent change as previously the information had only to be prominently displayed.

Condensed instructions: Paragraph 1051 now states: “An instruction manual shall be provided with each extinguisher giving condensed instructions and cautions necessary to the installation, operation, inspection and maintenance. The manual may be specific to the extinguisher involved or it may cover many types. The manual shall refer to ‘Installation of Portable Fire Extinguishers,’ NFPA No. 10 and to ‘Maintenance and Use of Portable Fire Extinguishers,’ NFPA No. 10A, as sources of detailed instructions.” This calls for a very important enclosure in every extinguisher box.

Revised Paragraph 1220 says: “Extinguishers shall be conspicuously located where they will be readily accessible and immediately available in the event of fire. They shall be located along normal paths of travel, including exits from an area.”

Paragraph 1222 was deleted because it was in conflict with A-1222, which has been renumbered A-1220.

To Paragraph 1231, which limits the heights of extinguishers above the floor, this sentence was added: “In no case shall the clearance between the bottom of the extinguisher and the floor be less than 4 inches.”

Why must heights be involved? Why are not accessibility and marking the only necessary criteria? The industrial user, by being forced to comply with height limitations, is suffering tremendous replacement costs because of physical damage to units previously hung out of harm’s way.

Rating system: The note was removed from Paragraph 2110 and made into Paragraph 2111: “The classification and rating system described in this standard is that used by Underwriters’ Laboratories, Inc., and Underwriter’s Laboratories of Canada and is based on extinguishing preplanned fires of determined size and description as follows: Class A rating—wood and excelsior: Class B rating—2-inch depth n-heptane in square pans; Class C rating—(as per present text); Class D rating—(as per present text).”

The words, “of the operator,” were added to Paragraph 2113, and Paragraphs 3120 and 3130 were both amended to insert “bromochlorodifluoromethane” after “bromotrifluoromethane.”

In Chapter 3, a Paragraph 3291 was added: “In warehouse occupancies, extinguishers shall be provided based on the nature of the hazard and the occupancy conditions. The type, size, number, and placement shall be as determined by NFPA Standards No. 231, No. 231B and No. 231C.”

In Paragraph 3310, the first two sentences were replaced by: “Bromotrifluoromethane (Halon 1301) and bromochlorodifluoromethane (Halon 1211) extinguishers contain extinguishing agents whose vapor has a low toxicity. However, their decomposition products can be hazardous.” The rest of the section was retained.

Paragraph 4010 was revised to replace “or occupancy” in the third line with “occupancy conditions” and to add to the fourth line after “classes of fire” the words “other protective systems or devices.”

Extinguisher sizes: An amendment to Paragraph 4110 reads: “Minimal sizes of fire extinguishers for the listed grades of hazards shall be provided on the basis of Table 4110, except as modified by Paragraph 4111.”

An added Paragraph 4111 states: “Up to one-half of the complement of extinguishers as specified in Table 4110 may be replaced by uniformly spaced small hose stations for use by the occupants of the building. When hose stations are so provided they shall conform to the standard, ‘Standpipe and Hose Systems,’ NFPA No. 14. The placement of hose stations shall be in such a manner that they do not replace more than every other extinguisher.”

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Industrial Fire Safety

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Table 4210 was sectionalized so that the upper part is Table 4210A and the lower part is Table 4210B.

The last sentence of Paragraph 4314 was rewritten to read: “Where so waived, Class B extinguishers shall be provided as covered in Paragraph 4210 to protect areas in the vicinity of such protected hazards.”

A new Section 4400 is entitled “Class B Fire Extinguishers for Pressurized Gas Fires.”

The added Paragraph 4410 reads: “Fires of this nature are considered to be a special hazard. Some extinguishers containing wet agents or carbon dioxide which are classified for Class B fires are relatively ineffective on this hazard due to stream and agent characteristics. Selection of extinguishers for this type of hazard shall be made on’ the basis of recommendations by manufacturers of this specialized equipment. The system used to rate extinguishers on Class B fires, (flammable liquids in depth) is not applicable to these types of hazards. It has been determined that special nozzle design and rates of agent application are required to cope with such hazards.”

If you have this type of fire hazard, you must contact your equipment supplier and take into careful consideration the statements made in this new section.

Testing extinguishers: Paragraph 5220 was amended to read: “Stored pressure dry chemical extinguishers (except non-refillable factory-sealed disposable containers) that require a 12-year hydrostatic test shall be emptied and subjected to the prescribed complete maintenance procedures every 6 years. Periodical recharging or hydrotesting of such extinguishers meets the requirements of this Paragraph.”

By using the last sentence of 5220, you can save a lot of expense. Keep adequate records; it’s worth it.

In Table 5321, the test interval for dry chemical extinguishers with aluminum shells was increased to 12 years. We hope test data was available to the committee when this change in hydrostatic test interval for aluminun shells was changed. A test interval of 12 years also was established for bromochlorodifluoromethane (Halon 1211) extinguishers.

In Paragraph 5322, the test interval for nitrogen and other inert gas storage cylinders was extended from 5 to 10 years.

Paragraph 1222 was amended and renumbered A-1220. (See previous comment on 1222.) It now states: “If extinguishers intended for different classes of fires are grouped, their intended use shall be marked conspicuously to aid in choice of the proper extinguisher at the time of the fire. The tendency is for an untrained person in an emergency to reach for the closest extinguisher. If this extinguisher is of the wrong type, he may well endanger himself and the property he is endeavoring to protect. Wherever possible, it is preferable to have only those extinguishers available that can be safely used on any type of fire in the immediate vicinity.”

Table A-3000 was amended to include listings for dry chemical, foam compatible and dry chemical potassium bicarbonate urea based extinguishing agents. Also included was bromochlorodifluoromethane.

Use on wet equipment: A new Paragraph A-3130 reads: “The use of dry chemical extinguishers on wet energized electrical equipment (such as rain-soaked utility poles, high voltage switch gear, and transformers) may aggravate electrical leakage problems. The dry chemical in combination with moisture provides an electrical path which can reduce the effectiveness of insulation protection. The removal of all traces of dry chemical from such equipment after extinguishment is recommended.”

Write this one down for your fire brigade training sessions. It’s vital to understand this phenomenon and be prepared in case of an emergency.

In Appendix B, bromochlorodifluoromethane extinguishers were added to the No. 2 marking classification. Paragraph C-111 was revised to change 80-B:C to 120-B:C in Line 3;320-B:C to 460-B:C in Line 5; and to insert “or potassium bicarbonate urea base types” after “or potassium chloride base types.”

A new paragraph, C-1430 was added: “Bromochlorodifluoromethane extinguishers – Halon 1211.” New Paragraph C-1431 states: “Extinguishers of this type are available in capacities from 2 to 9 pounds having fire extinguishment ratings from 2 to 10-B:C. The agent is self-expelling but requires a booster charge of nitrogen to ensure proper operation.” These latest changes may be dull and confusing at first, but you must have these standards on hand, understand them and then apply them. Only then will you understand their value in fire suppression.

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