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Tricks Of The Trade: Fire Extinguisher Codes

Written by Tricks Of The Trade Columnist. Posted in Ask The Expert, Columnists, Featured Post, Magazine, Safety, Topics, Tricks of the Trade

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Published on February 20, 2014 with No Comments

By B. Kevin Folsom, CEP
Published in the January/February 2014 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

QWe are trying to determine the national fire extinguisher code requirements for vacant buildings, and I have been getting a variety of answers. If we have a vacant property with no combustible materials, are our clients required by code to keep fire extinguishers up to date? There have been cases of people breaking into properties and spraying the extinguishers. In a recent case there were extinguishers left outside, and they used the extinguishers to break into a door.

Terri Brumley
Assistant Facilities Manager
Southfield, MI

AThanks for your question. Due to fire safety being governed at the local fire marshal and building inspections office and according to their interpretation, I’m not going to quote or interpret fire code. The best way to find an answer on this matter is to contact these offices. However, I can tell you of three major issues that officials think about with fire safety and vacant buildings:

  1. Are all utilities disconnected?
  2. Will anyone be in the building who might need a fire extinguisher (e.g., plumbers welding with fire, electricians pulling and testing electrical circuits, etc.)?
  3. Is there anything that is unsafe to fire and rescue people should they be called to the facility to service something?

In most cases, if all utilities are disconnected, if the facility can be secured reliably, and no one is to enter the facility without being authorized and instructed to bring a fire extinguisher with them (by posting signs on the doors), then you may not be required to keep fire safety components active and up to date. Nevertheless, you are required to report this to the local city building inspections and local fire department.

About Tricks Of The Trade Columnist

Tricks Of The Trade Columnist

Folsom is director of campus operations at Trinity Christian Academy in Addison, TX. Previously, he was director of facilities & plant operations, and energy procurement & efficiency at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, TX, where he worked for 25 years. He is the recipient of numerous awards from the associations of Higher Education Facility Officers and Energy Engineers for facility and energy management practices, industry leadership and involvement, and writing. He has also provided facilities assessment consulting to several organizations through All questions have been submitted via the “Ask The Expert” portion of the magazine’s web site. To pose a question, visit this link.

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