Fire extinguisher care - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-02-2014, 01:59 PM   #15
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As Francesca said, the powder packs hard as a rock due to vibration. The Coast Guard told me about that one a number of years ago during a boat inspection. Due to pounding from going over waves, etc, the powder packs solid in the bottom of the extinguisher. The same happens, and probably even worse in a camper that is constantly moving while on the road.

The powder needs to be broken up by flipping the extinguisher top to bottom. If it hasn’t been done for a while or never done, even tapping it with a rubber hammer may take a few minutes for you to feel the clump move to the other end because it’s packed so tight in a clump. At first it may take 30 seconds or so for it to release and you feel it slide to the other end.

Once it moves to the other end, then just keep alternating the extinguisher from top to bottom until you can’t feel the clump slide back and forth any more. The process can take several minutes to get the powder broken up to where you don’t feel it move any more, and it’s ready for an emergency.

Unless that powder is loose, you may as well throw the extinguisher or a rock at the fire, they would be just about as effective.

Jim
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Old 06-02-2014, 03:06 PM   #16
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Part of my job is dealing with fire equipment. This myth has been around a long time. We used to turn them upside down and pound them with a rubber hammer. It has been determined by the industry that the powder settles back in a couple of days. I have never blew out a extinguisher that is charged that didn't work. Now I don't bother. Inspect it for pressure and make sure all components are present, no rust, take the hose off and blow through it to dispel insects. You should be good to go.
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Old 06-02-2014, 03:21 PM   #17
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Interesting. In what job capacity did you work with fire equipment? The Coast Guard would perhaps be very interested in hearing of your insights and experiences.
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Old 06-02-2014, 08:54 PM   #18
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I have worked in Safety for many years and take care of the fire equipment for my company. I have been trained by the National Fire Protection Association to service fire extinguishers. The problem with the shaking and rubber hammer is you would need to do it every couple of days. I spent 23 years doing maintenance in the Army National Guard. The military is advanced in some areas and behind in others.
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Old 06-02-2014, 09:00 PM   #19
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From the Coast Guard Auxiliary:

VE TIPS
Fire Extinguishers
This VE TIPS addresses the practice of examining fire extinguishers during vessel safety checks, and specifically, the practice of shaking or tapping fire extinguishers. The Vessel Safety Check Manual, Item #5: Fire Extinguishers, Vessel Safety Check Techniques (pg.18), second bullet indicates: "Check dry chemical extinguishers by holding the fire extinguisher inverted to its normally stored position and solidly hitting the base of the extinguisher with the palm of the hand several times".
Recent articles in "For Safety's Sake" (Vol 3‐2010, pg.3 and Vol 1‐2010, pg.4) discuss the practice of shaking or inverting and tapping the bottom of a dry chemical type fire extinguisher to feel the powder moving inside and free up any caked material. The articles point out that there is no official guidance requiring or recommending this practice and, in fact, it is not recommended by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The bottom line is that there is no need to shake or strike a modern dry chemical extinguisher that has been USCG approved. To do so actually risks damage to the shell of the extinguisher or the pressure gauge, and has no long term effects on the loosening of "packed" dry chemical. Additionally, this procedure could actually end up clogging the pickup tube, resulting in the extinguisher becoming inoperable. Therefore, the practice of shaking or tapping an inverted dry chemical type fire extinguisher is NO longer recommended and should NOT be used.
Additional information regarding caking/packing of dry chemical extinguishers can be found at the following link:
http://safetyseal.net/pdf_files/AnsulTechBul45.pdf
To summarize this ANSUL Technical bulletin, there is a distinction between caking and packing as related to dry chemical powder. Caking of powder into lumps or chunks is caused by moisture and could render an extinguisher inoperable. Packing, on the other hand, of dry powder in a cylinder that is oriented vertically is normal and expected. However, the design of modern dry chemical extinguishers that are USCG marine‐approved takes into account that powder will pack and the amount of propellant used is sufficient to overcome the packing. It is not necessary to strike the extinguisher with the palm to manually loosen the powder, which will only pack again during normal boat operations. The key checks to make during the VSC are for USCG approval, that the pressure is within the proper range, and that there is no evidence of leaking powder or damage to the integrity of the cylinder. If the pressure is maintained, there should be no way moisture can enter the cylinder after the manufacturing process and thus no danger of caking of the powder.
The National V‐Department recognizes the need to update the Vessel Safety Check Manual and the changes discussed above are on the "to do" list. In the interim, the guidance provided in the "For Safety Sake" newsletters should be followed.
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Old 06-03-2014, 02:26 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Scamper Jim View Post
As Francesca said, the powder packs hard as a rock due to vibration....
I pay a fire extinguisher technician about $1,000 per year to service my office building extinguishers. This annual service is mandated by law.

I asked him a few years ago about this turning over and thumping in vehicle/RV use. He said it isn't necessary but probably won't hurt anything.

I value his advice much more than an anonymous internet forum poster.
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Old 06-03-2014, 02:45 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beemerphile1 View Post
I pay a fire extinguisher technician about $1,000 per year to service my office building extinguishers. This annual service is mandated by law.

I asked him a few years ago about this turning over and thumping in vehicle/RV use. He said it isn't necessary but probably won't hurt anything.

I value his advice much more than an anonymous internet forum poster.
We would, too, "Beemerphile"! How about putting us in touch with your Not Anonymous Source so we can ask him his position on shaking the extinguisher once a month?


Meanwhile, here's what a few Identifiable Sources say:

Quote:
Shake dry chemical extinguishers once a month to prevent the powder from settling or packing. Check the manufacturer's recommendations.
Source: FEMA/ U.S. Fire Administration

Quote:
Some manufacturers recommend shaking your dry chemical extinguishers once a month to prevent the powder from settling/packing.
Source: Fire Extinguishers 101

Quote:
8. If you have a dry chemical extinguisher, shake it once a month.

Your manual will tell you if your extinguisher is the dry chemical type. The USFA says shaking your extinguisher will help prevent the powder inside from settling or packing.
Source: Allstate Insurance

Quote:
Also each month, shake the canisters of dry-chemical extinguishers to keep the powder from settling (check the manufacturer’s recommendations, first).
Source: Lowes/ Maintain Home Fire Extinguisher
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Old 06-03-2014, 03:19 PM   #22
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We worry about the damnedest things but are oblivious to those that matter.

This is one of the former.
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Old 06-03-2014, 08:32 PM   #23
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Fire extinguisher care

This is my last post on this thread in the interest of "Elegance of Behavior"

God bless.
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