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DOT Update to Transporting Fire Extinguishers

Two key interpretations have recently come out from the DOT: fire extinguishers can no longer be labeled and marked as "Nitrogen, Compressed UN1066" and only specific fire extinguishers may be transported as "Materials of Trade." Read more for details.

The US DOT recently issued two interpretations that directly affect the transportation of fire extinguishers. The PHMSA (Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration) conducted a two-day seminar in Atlanta on June 19-20 to review their hazardous material regulations. This seminar included a breakout session dedicated to the transportation, labeling, marking, and shipping paper entries for fire extinguishers. NAFED's federal regulations committee was represented at this seminar by committee chairman John Lewandowski and committee members John Gioseffi and Norb Makowka. The DOT representatives at this seminar were very informative and provided their interpretations on several areas. Two key interpretations discussed were: fire extinguishers can no longer be labeled and marked as "Nitrogen, Compressed UN1066" and only specific fire extinguishers (detailed below) may be transported as "Materials of Trade."

The following is a list of key points in the DOT's interpretations. As a reminder, the DOT definition of fire extinguishers in CFR 49 Section 173.309 is:
§173.309 Fire extinguishers
(a) Fire extinguishers charged with a limited quantity of compressed gas to not more than 1660 kPa (241 psig) at 21° C (70° F) are excepted from labeling (except when offered for transportation by air) and the specification packaging requirements of this subchapter when shipped under the following conditions. In addition, shipments are not subject to subpart F of part 172 of this subchapter, to part 174 of this subchapter except §174.24 or to part 177 of this subchapter except §177.817.
(1) Each fire extinguisher must have contents which are nonflammable, non-poisonous, and noncorrosive as defined under this subchapter.
(2) Each fire extinguisher must be shipped as an inner packaging.
(3) Nonspecification cylinders are authorized subject to the following conditions:...

Key Points

  1. When required, fire extinguishers that are not shipped as an inner packaging (not in a box or 6-sided enclosure) must be marked and labeled as "Fire Extinguishers, UN 1044" and shall not be marked or labeled as "Nitrogen, Compressed."
  2. Shipping paper entries must identify the extinguishers as "UN1044, Fire Extinguishers, 2.2."
  3. Fire extinguishers that are shipped as an inner packaging (in a six-sided enclosure) meet the requirements for limited quantity and therefore the weight of those extinguishers does not apply to placarding considerations. However, you must also change the shipping paper entry to read: UN1044, Fire Extinguishers Limited Quantity, 2.2. You are allowed to abbreviate "Limited Quantity" to "Ltd Qty". (*See note.)
  4. Shipping papers are required for fire extinguishers that are transported as Limited Quantity regardless of the exception allowed in CFR 49 Section 177.200 (b)(3).
  5. Only fire extinguishers that are being used for training purposes or as "loaners" can be transported as a Material of Trade (MOT) in accordance with CFR 49 Sections 171.8 and 173.6.
  6. All fire extinguishers that are not transported as inner packaging must be properly secured and must be marked as "Fire Extinguisher, UN1044" and labeled with a Division 2.2 label.
*Note: A change last year in the regulations requires that the packaging containing a Limited Quantity Material must be marked with both the proper shipping name and the UN identification number. This means that any box, crate, etc., that is used to contain fire extinguishers needs to be marked "Fire Extinguisher, UN1044."

Don't be surprised if during a DOT facility inspection they ask to review your shipping methods and paperwork related to the transportation of fire extinguishers. NAFED recommends that when you bring in any fire extinguishers that are labeled as "Nitrogen, Compressed" or "Air, Compressed" you remove or cover that label until you replace it with a "Fire Extinguisher, UN1044" label.

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