The nitty gritty of periodic testing.


Six year recharge

Most businesses are familiar with the requirement of periodic inspections. The end result is a current tag on your system, extinguisher, alarm panel or sprinkler riser. As a fire protection company, our primary job is to act as the middle man between the business owner and the Authority Having Jurisdiction(AHJ). Their job is to make sure your tags are up to date, our job is to make sure your equipment meets the requirements for that current tag. Ultimately we work for and with the business owner to help mitigate issues that my arise with the AHJ. I often hear”but the fire department said it was good”. My job is to make sure they can say that honestly next time as well.

All cylinders in my industry require periodic testing and recharging. The testing intervals are mandated by NFPA, DOT, manufacturers and the local AHJ. Whether it is an internal inspection, recharging, or hydrostatic testing, it is all required to be done.  The intervals differ depending on chemical used, type of cylinder, application and many other factors. This is often the opportunity for manufacturers to implement recalls and fixes. It is also often times used as the “drop dead” date on obsolete equipment; most famously the switching of the steel Ansul system red tanks to stainless steel.

As a technician, it is my chance to see that everything is working as it should. Over the years I’ve found debris in cylinders, tools, dysfunctional gauges, corrosion, incorrect chemicals and much more during this testing. Most things can be easily fixed, but sometimes cylinders need to be removed from service and replaced.

Ultimately all testing requirements exist for a reason. Most code changes are due to a failure or an improvement in the industry. A good technician will keep you apprised of changes in code and testing dates that will have a financial impact on your business. All of these dates are listed in the code they got their license based on and aren’t a mystery. If this communication isn’t happening, the technician working for you is likely only interested in your wallet and not your well being.

System hydro code




Fire Extinguishers and how they work (and how they don’t)

Back in the late 90’s I was working for a small operation.  We had three techs, a secretary and an owner. That was it. For perspective, cell phone tech was pretty new and cell phones were still considered a luxury.

We had a phone call come in.  The customer calling was incredibly angry. He had used eleven extinguishers and not a single one had worked. Not the phone call a fire protection company ever wants. One of our technicians loaded up the service truck and headed out. The fire was in a freight facility. It was a large fire and it finally burned itself out.

In the middle of the warehouse was the pile of fire extinguishers. The owner was there waiting to get after us for the failure. Almost every single extinguishers was pressurized still. The owner had pulled the pins and thrown the fire extinguishers into the fire like grenades. This isn’t how they work.

The customer got stuck with replacing every single one. Once a extinguisher has been in a fire it has to be removed from service. He didn’t put the fire out. Lost his freight. He had to pay for our time.

There is an easier way. There is an acronym PASS. Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep. If you can’t remember that there are pictures on the front of the bottle.

When you have a technician inspecting in your building feel free to ask him to show you how its done. If you have never gotten a hands on course, take the opportunity when you can. It isn’t difficult, but it is a skill that most people will have to use at some point in their lives.

This is a pretty decent video.

Fire Extinguisher training video.