Hydrostatic Testing Of Portable Fire Extinguishers Is Necessary To Ensure They Work When Needed – Part 1

Travis Jolliff

Part 1 in this series will provide a summary of each step in the hydrostatic testing process for rechargeable portable fire extinguishers through the actual hydrostatic test.

Portable fire extinguishers designed to combat type A, B and C class fires are the most common type of fire extinguisher used in businesses today. In order to ensure that these portable fire extinguishers are reliable, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requires monthly inspections, annual maintenance inspections, and hydrostatic testing of rechargeable portable fire extinguishers.

Hydrostatic testing involves subjecting the fire extinguisher cylinder to pressures that exceed its rating to ensure it is still capable of maintaining the pressure necessary to discharge properly in the event of a fire.

There are eleven (11) basic steps to performing hydrostatic testing of rechargeable portable fire extinguishers:

  1. Visually Inspect the portable fire extinguishers prior to pressure testing
  2. Remove the discharge hose
  3. Discharge the fire extinguisher
  4. Remove the discharge valve
  5. Perform a hydrostatic pressure test on the portable fire extinguisher cylinder
  6. Drain and dry the portable fire extinguisher cylinder
  7. Replace the portable fire extinguisher cylinder valve stem and o-ring
  8. Fill the portable fire extinguisher cylinder with the appropriate fire extinguishing agent
  9. Apply the portable fire extinguisher service collar along with the appropriate ID and labels
  10. Pressurize the portable fire extinguisher
  11. Install the tamper seal and discharge hose on the portable fire extinguisher

Having your portable fire extinguisher cylinders properly hydrostatically tested will help ensure your portable fire extinguishers will work when you need it.

Visually Inspect the portable fire extinguishers prior to pressure testing

A hydrostatic test always includes both an internal and an external visual examination of the cylinder including under the nameplate or name band assembly if they are removable. The purpose of the visual inspection is to find anything that may compromise the integrity of the cylinder. This is important because hydrostatic testing is performed by putting the extinguisher under pressure, and testing a damaged cylinder can result in injury. If any problems are observed, the extinguisher cylinder cannot be safely tested but should instead be removed from service. In addition, any extinguisher that has a copper or brass shell joined by soft solder or rivets is now considered by the NFPA as obsolete and also must be removed from service.

Remove the discharge hose

Remove the hose from the extinguisher and replace it with a hydrotest / recharge adapter to capture the extinguishing agent when discharging the extinguisher.

Discharge the fire extinguisher

Discharge the extinguisher fully prior to testing so that no traces of the extinguishing agent remains.

Remove the discharge valve

Once the extinguisher is fully discharged, remove the valve to inspect the interior of the cylinder. Before inspecting, blow out any remaining traces of extinguishing agent with an air hose. When inspecting the interior of the cylinder, look primarily for any pitting that could compromise the cylinder. If pitting is found, the extinguisher cannot be tested but instead removed from service.

Perform a hydrostatic pressure test on the portable fire extinguisher cylinder

In accordance with NFPA 10, use water for all hydrostatic testing of ABC fire extinguisher cylinders.

For safety reasons, the cylinder must be tested within a protective cage device or placed behind a protective shield that allows visual observation while the cylinder is under pressure.

While testing the cylinder, watch the test gauge for a drop in pressure, which would indicate a leak in the cylinder.

It is important to note that a failure of the cylinder to hold pressure means the extinguisher must be retired. Fire extinguishers that fail their hydrostatic testing cannot be repaired. Rather, they must be permanently removed from service.

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 testing of 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.