This morning, NFPA learned of one of the largest safety recalls made by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The recall, which “involves 134 models of Kidde fire extinguishers manufactured between January 1, 1973 and August 15, 2017, including models that were previously recalled in March 2009 and February 2015” impacts 37.8 million units. The reason for the recall is that “the fire extinguishers can become clogged or require excessive force to discharge and can fail to activate during a fire emergency. In addition, the nozzle can detach with enough force to pose an impact hazard.” For additional information, check out the latest blog from Cathy Longley, Communications Manager at NFPA.
Cathy highlights an important aspect regarding the use of fire extinguishers; although they are used to save lives and property and can contain a small fire until the fire department arrives, they should not be used in place of fire fighter response and occupants should not attempt to take fighting the fire into their own hands. The top priority is for occupants to evacuate a building safely. Fire extinguishers should not be used in lieu of that goal. For more information on the requirements for fire extinguishers in NFPA 1 check out these past posts:
NFPA 1, Fire Code, addresses another type of fire protection system for occupant use, hose lines. New to the 2015 edition of the Code, Section 188.8.131.52 addresses the removal of existing occupant-use hose lines as follows:
184.108.40.206* The AHJ shall be authorized to permit the removal of existing occupant-use hose lines where all of the following are met:
(1) This Code does not require their installation.
(2) The current building code does not require their installation.
(3) The AHJ determines that the occupant-use hose line will not be utilized by trained personnel or the fire department.
A.220.127.116.11 It is not the intent of 18.104.22.168 to permit the removal of portions of the existing standpipe system other than hose lines, and that such remaining system components be maintained and available for use by the fire department or other appropriate fire suppression personnel.
The provisions of 22.214.171.124 are intended to explicitly allow the removal of non-required, occupant-use standpipe hose from buildings. The fire protection approach utilizing 1 ½” hose lines for occupant use has significantly evolved over the last 50 years. While it use to be a common occurrence to require this type of protection, the codes have evolved away from this approach finding it better to evacuate rather than asking individuals that are untrained to attempt to fight a fire (same concept as with fire extinguishers noted above.)
There are numerous existing situations where 1 ½” hose are present in occupancies that no longer require hose to be present for occupant’s use. Some AHJ’s were allowing the removal of this hose while some AHJs might have been wary of permitting the removal of occupant use hose, lacking any Code language stating its removal was permitted. Provided that the hose is not required by NFPA 1 or the applicable building code, and no trained on-site fire suppression personnel would be expected to utilize it, the hose can be removed. It is preferable for untrained building occupants to evacuate rather than attempt to extinguish a fire using hose lines.
Thanks for reading, stay safe!