Bulletin No.: 13/2000

Date (Y-M-D): 2000-10-30

Subject: Dry Chemical Cartridge-operated Portable Fire Extinguishers Nozzel Blockage

This bulletin is to inform and alert ship owners and mariners that during a recent inspection of fire extinguishers on a vessel by a Transport Canada Marine Safety Inspector, it was reported by the service agency that all the cartridge-operated dry chemical portable fire extinguishers failed to discharge. It was noted that the nozzles were plugged by packed dry chemical powder.

The manufacturer of the extinguishers believed that this could only have happened as a result of the extinguishers having been improperly serviced by charging the extinguisher with contaminated, or incorrectly mixed chemicals, or in surroundings where humidity levels were high.

In order to minimize the possibility of this type of occurrence and to help ensure the extinguishers are ready for emergency use, the following instructions should be considered:

  • Maintenance, servicing and recharging of the fire extinguishers should be performed by trained persons having available the appropriate servicing manual, tools, recharge materials and manufacturers recommended replacement parts specifically listed for use in the fire extinguisher.
  • Fire extinguishers should be inspected by the ship's trained personnel during fire drills or at least once a month to ensure they are fully charged, ready for use and in their designated locations with legible operating instructions on the nameplates and with intact safety seals. They should be visually examined for obvious physical damage, corrosion, leakage or clogged nozzles. If any deficiency is noticed, immediate corrective action will need to be taken and recorded.
  • The date the extinguishers were tested and the name of the agency that performed the test should be displayed on the label or tag securely attached to the extinguisher.
  • These extinguishers should be emptied and recharged every six years and hydrostatically tested after twelve years from date of manufacture in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions in NFPA* 10 and NFPA* 17. This shall be done by an approved ULC listed agencyin accordance with ULC-S504** "Standard for dry chemical and dry powder hand and wheeled fire extinguishers." When the extinguishers are removed from service for maintenance or recharging, substitute fire extinguishers will be needed ofsuitable and equivalent rating for the space to be protected.
  • In situations where it is uncertain if the nozzle or hose is blocked, and depending on the design of the extinguisher, elevating the nozzle and hose assembly and tapping the nozzle and hose may help to empty any powder present back into the canister. If in doubt arrange to have the extinguishers serviced.
  • It is common practice on many ships to invert and shake the dry chemical extinguishers on a regular basis to prevent the dry chemical from packing in the extinguisher. Although it is not known if this practice contributed to the problem mentioned here, either directly or indirectly, the manufacturer should be contacted to verify if this practice is recommended.
  • In addition as per subsection 7(4) of the Boat and Fire Drill Regulations, 1978, "Fire extinguishers shall be checked and at each drill one or more shall be discharged; the crew shall be instructed in the handling of the types of extinguishers carried on the ship."

*NFPA= National Fire Protection Association.

**ULC= Underwriters' Laboratories of Canada.

Keywords:                                  Questions concerning this bulletin should be addressed to:

1. Fire extinguishers dry chemical
2. NFPA 10 , NFPA 17
3. ULC-S504
Matthew Andrades
Transport Canada
Marine Safety
Tower C, Place de Ville
11th Floor, 330 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N8

To add or change your address, contact us at: marinesafety@tc.gc.ca

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