Hydrostatic Testing Of Portable Fire Extinguishers – Part 3

Roy Williams

A visual inspection alone is not sufficient to ensure that a portable fire extinguisher is safe or will operate properly when needed. Over time, normal handling or workplace conditions can impact the structural integrity of a portable fire extinguisher and cause it to malfunction or burst. To prevent this from happening, all portable fire extinguishers are required to be inspected and pressure tested by a qualified facility using the proper equipment and facilities per 29 CFR 1910.157(f)(1).

Hydrostatic testing is the method used to pressure test a portable fire extinguisher’s critical components (cylinder, shell, hose assembly, etc.) for leaks and structural flaws. This 4 part series of articles will help you understand what you need to do to comply with the requirements for hydrostatic testing of portable fire extinguishers. Specific areas that will be addressed include:

  • How does hydrostatic testing of portable fire extinguishers work?
  • What are the types of hydrostatic tests for portable fire extinguishers?
  • When is hydrostatic testing of portable fire extinguishers needed or required?
  • What records from hydrostatic testing of portable fire extinguishers must be maintained?

Part 1 in this series addressed How does hydrostatic testing of portable fire extinguishers work.  Part 2 in this series addressed What are the types of hydrostatic tests for portable fire extinguishers. Part 3 in this series will address When is hydrostatic testing of portable fire extinguishers needed or required.

When is hydrostatic testing of portable fire extinguishers needed or required?

To ensure that your extinguisher will operate effectively and safely, you are required to have them hydrostatically tested:

  1. At the intervals listed in the Hydrostatic Testing Intervals Table provided below, which are either every five or 12 years, depending on the type of portable fire extinguisher.
  2. Whenever a portable fire extinguisher shows new evidence of corrosion or mechanical injury.

Hydrostatically test portable extinguishers at the intervals listed in the Hydrostatic Testing Intervals Table provided below, except under any of the following conditions:

  • When there have been repairs made by soldering, welding, brazing, or with patching compounds.
  • When the cylinder or shell threads are damaged.
  • When there are signs of corrosion that has caused pitting, including corrosion under removable nameplate band assemblies.
  • When the extinguisher has been burned in a fire.  Some signs of exposure to heat and fire are:
    • Charring, blistering, or discoloration of the cylinder paint or labels.
    • Distortion of the cylinder body.
    • Melting of any components (such as the valve knob, the carrying handle, etc.).
    • Activation of the valve pressure relief device.
  • When a calcium chloride extinguishing agent has been used in a stainless steel shell.

Depending on the type(s) of portable fire extinguishers you have, they must be emptied and hydrostatically tested at the intervals specified in the Hydrostatic Testing Intervals Table provided below. Extinguisher shells, cylinders, or cartridges that fail a hydrostatic pressure test, or which are not fit for testing, shall be removed from service and the workplace.

HYDROSTATIC TESTING INTERVALS

Type of Extinguishers Special Requirements Test Interval (years)
Foam (soldered brass shells) Must be removed from service
Soda acid (soldered brass shells) Must be removed from service
  • *Soda acid (stainless steel shell)
  • Foam (stainless steel shell)
Test self-generating type soda acid and foam extinguishers at 350 psi (2,410 kPa) 5 Years
  • *Cartridge operated water and/or antifreeze
  • Stored pressure water and/or antifreeze
  • Wetting agent
  • Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF)
  • Loaded stream
  • Dry chemical with stainless steel
5 Years
Carbon Dioxide C02 extinguishers that have a hose assembly equipped with a shut-off nozzle must be tested at 1,250 psi (8,620 kPa). Hose assemblies must also be tested within a protective cage device. 5 Years
  • Dry chemical, stored pressure, with mild steel, brazed brass or aluminum shells
  • Dry chemical, cartridge or cylinder operated, with mild steel shells
  • Dry powder, cartridge or cylinder operated with mild steel shells
Dry chemical and dry powder hose assemblies equipped with a shutoff nozzle must be hydrostatically tested at 300 psi (2,070 kPa). 12 Years
  • Halon 1211
  • Halon 1301
Halon 1211 and all stored pressure extinguishers must be hydrostatically tested at the factory test pressure, not to exceed two times the normal operating pressure 12 Years
NOTE:

All hose assemblies must be hydrostatically tested at the same interval as the extinguisher if it is equipped with a shutoff nozzle at the discharge end.

Hose assemblies passing a hydrostatic test do not require any type of recording or stamping.

* Although still included in this table, Soda acid (stainless steel shell) and Cartridge operated water and/or antifreeze extinguishers are now obsolete.

The Jay L Harman Fire Equipment team understands your firefighting needs and is ready to help

Jay L Harman’s DOT Hydrostatic Testing facility and equipment meet all NFPA requirements for the hydrostatic testing of self contained breathing apparatus compressed gas cylinders in addition to testing ABC portable fire extinguisher cylinders.

Jay L Harman is the best and one of the biggest firefighting equipment suppliers and service providers in the region, specializing in fire suppression systems, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, fire hoses, hydrostatic testing and more. Serving El Paso TX, Las Cruces NM and the surrounding areas, we pride ourselves on buying local and hiring local whenever possible.

Jay L Harman Fire Equipment is your go-to distributor for OVAL low-profile fire extinguishers in West Texas and New Mexico.

Contact Jay L. Harman Fire Equipment in El Paso TX at 915-533-7021 or Las Cruces NM at 575-523-8880.

Since 1925, we have protected businesses throughout the area from the harms and hazards of fires. Every Jay L Harman technician is licensed and regulated by the Texas Department of Insurance State Fire Marshal’s Office.  Each of these technicians continually receives the most up-to-date factory training and certifications by our manufacturers. Contact Jay L Harman Fire Equipment today. Let our friendly and knowledgeable staff tell you more about our fire suppression systems and help you find the ideal fire suppression system for your needs. Learn more about our full offering of fire extinguisher training, firefighting services, firefighting products, request a quote, ask a question or request additional information.