The American Society for Health Care Engineering’s (ASHE’s) advocacy team is encouraging ASHE members and others in the health care field to submit “public input” to the National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 10, Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers, for the allowance of data to be considered when determining the required inspection frequency for fire extinguishers.
ASHE needs the field’s voice to be heard by submitting public input to NFPA 10 by June 1, 2023, to add language permitting a performance-based fire extinguisher inspection program option. Those submitting input also should consider submitting fire extinguisher inspection data from their organizations along with the public input.
Adding a performance-based program would align NFPA 10 with other NFPA standards (e.g., NFPA 72®, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code®, and NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives), which currently allow this option.
The concept of a performance-based inspection program is to establish the requirements and frequencies at which inspection must be performed to demonstrate an acceptable level of operational reliability. The goal is to balance the inspection frequency with proven reliability of the extinguisher and adjusting inspection frequencies commensurate with historical documented equipment reliability.
Frequencies of inspection under a performance-based program may be extended or reduced from the prescriptive inspection requirements when continued inspection and testing has been documented indicating a higher or lower degree of reliability as compared to the authority having jurisdiction’s (AHJ’s) expectations of performance.
For example, fire extinguisher inspection could increase from monthly to weekly when the failure rate exceeds the AHJ’s expectations, or the inspection frequency could decrease from monthly to quarterly when the failure trends indicate an increase in reliability.
A fundamental requirement of this performance-based program is the continual monitoring of fire extinguisher failure rates and determining if they exceed the maximum allowable failure rates as agreed upon with the AHJ. The process used to complete this review would be documented and be repeatable.
Submitting an NFPA public input is a great way to get involved in the regulatory process and potentially make a difference in health care regulations for years to come. Adding a performance-based program option would save the health care field millions of dollars by eliminating needless fire extinguisher inspections.
A video showing facilities professionals how to submit a public input can be accessed at ashe.org/commentdevvideos .
Sidebar by Lennon Peake, PE, FASHE, executive vice president at Koffel Compliance LLC, Columbia, Md.