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US DOT Revises Definition of "Fire Extinguisher"

Friday, April 3, 2015  
Posted by: Tamara Matthews
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The US DOT, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), issued a revised section 173.309 effective January 8, 2015. The PHMSA amended several sections of the hazmat regulations “to maintain an alignment with international standards.”

An introductory paragraph was added to §193.309 that reads as follows:
173.309 Fire Extinguishers. This section applies to portable fire extinguishers for manual handling and operation, fire extinguishers for installation in aircraft, and large fire extinguishers. Large fire extinguishers include fire extinguishers mounted on wheels for manual handling; fire extinguishing equipment or machinery mounted on wheels or wheeled platforms or units transported similar to (small) trailers; and fire extinguishers composed of a non-rollable pressure drum and equipment, and handled, for example, by fork lift or crane when loaded or unloaded.”

Additionally, a section (e) was also added that reads:
“(e) Large fire extinguishers may be transported while unpackaged under the following conditions:
(1) The requirements of § 173.24(b) are met;
(2) The valves are protected in accordance with § 173.301(c) (2) (i), (ii), (iii) or (v); and
(3) Other equipment mounted on the fire extinguisher is protected to prevent accidental activation.”
Note: The reference in (e)(2) has an error that the DOT is aware of, and they are in the process of issuing a correction.

Additionally, the US DOT PHMSA issued an interpretation in 2014 that allows cartridge-operated extinguishers to be transported as Fire Extinguisher UN 1044 with the cartridge installed. However, if a cartridge is being transported separately (not attached to the fire extinguisher), it must be described in the shipping papers with the name and number of the appropriate gas.

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