Hydrostatic Testing Of Portable Fire Extinguishers – Part 2

Travis Jolliff

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 will address What are the types of hydrostatic tests for portable fire extinguishers.

What are the types of hydrostatic tests for portable fire extinguishers?

Water Jacket Type – The hydrostatic test described in the previous paragraph is called the water jacket type because the cylinder is enclosed and surrounded by water during the testing process. All compressed gas type cylinders (CO2, dry chemical, etc.) must be hydrostatically tested using this method. They must also have an expansion indicator that operates with an accuracy within one percent of the total expansion or .1cc (.1mL) of liquid.

For all non-compressed gas type cylinders, you can use a manual or powered hydrostatic test pump as long as it meets the following requirements:

  • It must be capable of producing at least 150 percent of the test pressure, and include the appropriate check valves and fittings.
  • It must have a flexible connection for attachment to the test pump and necessary fittings to test through the extinguisher nozzle, test bonnet, or hose outlet, as applicable.
  • Personnel must be physically protected during use by a cage or barrier designed to allow visual observation of the extinguisher during the test.

Air or gas pressure must not be used for hydrostatic testing because it compresses and expands many more times than water, which makes it very dangerous.

It is illegal and dangerous to perform a hydrostatic test on any cylinder or shell without first doing a visual external and internal examination. If any component exhibits at least one of the following conditions, it must be removed from service immediately.

  • All soldered or riveted shell self-generating soda acid.
  • Self-generating foam or gas cartridge water type portable extinguisher which you must invert to rupture the cartridge to activate it or to initiate an uncontrollable pressure generating chemical reaction to expel the agent.

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.