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Portable fire extinguishers are required to be visually inspected when initially placed in service and at least monthly thereafter [see NFPA 10(98), Sections 4-3.1]. These visual inspections, intended to help ensure that each extinguisher is in its designated place and will operate if needed, can be performed by facility staff.
A pressure gauge in the “normal” or “operable” range is not a 100 percent guaranty that the extinguisher will perform as intended. A broken seal, for example, may be an indication that someone has used the extinguisher and discharged a portion of the contents too small to affect the pressure gauge. NFPA 10(98), Sec. 4-3.2, therefore, requires that the monthly inspection verify a number of things including:
• Extinguishers are in their designated places
• There are no obstructions to access or visibility
• Safety seals are not broken or missing
• There is no evidence of physical damage, corrosion, leakage or clogged nozzle
• Pressure gauge readings are in the proper range or position
• Operating instructions are legible and facing outward
• Fullness – confirmed by weighing or lifting Where circumstances warrant, some fire extinguishers may have to be inspected more frequently.
Examples of such circumstances might include extinguishers that are oftentimes found obstructed during monthly inspections or extinguishers located in areas where they are subject to tampering, theft or mechanical injury.
Obviously, any problems found during the monthly inspection must be corrected
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