Fire extinguisher care - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-31-2014, 01:44 PM   #1
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Fire extinguisher care

I always have trouble remembering this needs done. Does everyone remember to give your extinguisher a few flips to keep it "ready to go"? We carry them but don't always remember they need maintenance care. terry r.
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Old 05-31-2014, 04:36 PM   #2
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Never heard of the maintenance. Just look to see it is still in the green zone.
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Old 05-31-2014, 04:51 PM   #3
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The dry stuff inside packs down hard as a rock due to vehicle movement/vibration, Darwin. There've been instances when nothing came out but the propellant because the good stuff was tamped so solid.
link

One should take 'em out and shake 'em up periodically.
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Old 05-31-2014, 05:04 PM   #4
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One service company I know of would tap on the bottom with a rubber hammer when doing their inspections.
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Old 05-31-2014, 06:11 PM   #5
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My fire extinguisher is as old as my camper. I'm pretty sure it would be best to simply replace it with a new one.

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Old 05-31-2014, 06:37 PM   #6
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Best extinguishers are the ones with the metal valves / handles. My local extinguisher service place will recharge them, but they won't do the plastic valve ones.
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Old 05-31-2014, 07:00 PM   #7
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You may be surprised with how long they can last. I had a powder filled one in my car for 10 years. One year when they came to the shop to recharge all the company bottles I had him do mine. He looked at the date and said it probably woundn't work. It did and he just shook his head. He did tell me to keep them from packing down to turn it upside down and use a rubber hammer to loosen it up every six months or so.
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Old 05-31-2014, 07:02 PM   #8
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Easy fix

I try to keep my fire extinguishers mounted upside down. That way when it is turned to the correct position, the settled powder moves and is no longer packed at one end. Of course I also shake them every now and again and I never had one fail during my many years as a volunteer fire fighter.
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Old 05-31-2014, 09:24 PM   #9
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Good suggestion to turn it upside down and use a rubber hammer to loosen it up every six months or so. When you buy the extinguisher, you don't know how long it's been sitting on the shelf!
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Old 05-31-2014, 10:11 PM   #10
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Just a bit of follow up on that 35 year old extinguisher that was recharged way back when. I have carried it in the rear door pocket in my 4 DR Ranger since '02. Wellllll, I had a bunch of items behind the seat after a shopping trip and only removed a few of them and moved a few things around doing it. Closed the doors and never saw the white cloud go off inside, dang. But on the bright side it still worked after a 17 year old recharge. Glad it was only powder. Kind of off subject but my two expiriences prove to me that even though they have years on them they can still be OK. I've only used a personal extinguisher once in 50 years on the road for someone that had a small fire going. Good, but the guy didn't even say thanks , Oh well
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Old 05-31-2014, 10:48 PM   #11
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The only way to know for sure if it still works is to discharge it. And, then it doesn't work anymore.
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Old 05-31-2014, 10:58 PM   #12
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Yup Glenn, just like popping a beer....it doesn't work anymore
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Old 06-01-2014, 11:35 AM   #13
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Thank You francesca+knowles
I have now joined the Shake, Rattle and row team.
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Old 06-02-2014, 11:06 AM   #14
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I turn mine upside down once or twice a year and thump it against the tire. I'm not convinced it is more than an urban legend but it doesn't hurt.

Yea, I know, somebody knew somebody that had a brother-in-law that worked with a guy that had an extinguisher fail.
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Old 06-02-2014, 12:59 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.

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Old 06-02-2014, 02:06 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, 02:21 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, 07:54 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, 08:00 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, 01:26 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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