The U.S. Department of Transportation has made a major revision to CFR 49 Section 173.309 Fire Extinguishers. The revision was made to the opening section which describes what the US DOT classifies as fire extinguishers. This DOT description is not based on product use, NFPA, or other fire-related definitions. The DOT regulates the manufacturing, testing, and transportation of what it describes as fire extinguishers.
This revision makes pre-engineered and engineered fire extinguishing system cylinders "fire extinguishers" for transportation purposes. With this being the case, pre-engineered and engineered system cylinders would be required to be marked, labeled, and entered on the shipping papers as Fire Extinguisher, UN1044, Hazard Class 2. NOTE: this does not include any carbon dioxide cylinder, extinguisher, or cartridge. Carbon dioxide must transported, labeled, and marked as Carbon Dioxide, UN1013, Hazard Class 2.
Additionally, fire extinguishers and systems cylinders that are cartridge or cylinder operated may be transported as a fire extinguisher with the following limitations: the cartridge/cylinder must be part of the full assembly and as referenced in the DOT Interpretation 19-0052, the cartridge/cylinder must not contain carbon dioxide.
For additional information on packaging, please refer to DOT Interpretation 12-0075 which describes what the DOT considers as acceptable packaging of non-specification (cylinder) fire extinguishers.
Below is the text of the updated CFR 49 Section 173.309. The underlined areas are the revisions. For reference, you can access the full text here.
CFR 49 §173.309 Fire extinguishers.
This section applies to portable fire extinguishers for manual handling and operation, fire extinguishers for installation in aircraft, fire extinguishers for installation as part of a fire suppression system, and large fire extinguishers. Fire extinguishers for installation as part of a fire suppression system include cylinders charged with either a compressed gas and an extinguishing agent or a gas which comprises the sole fire extinguishing agent in the system. A fire extinguisher does not include cylinders pressurized with a gas for purposes of expelling a separately stored extinguishing agent in the fire suppression system. 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. Cylinders filled with a compressed gas whose purpose is to expel a separately stored extinguishing agent may not be transported under this section when offered for transportation or transported apart from a suppression system.
We want to thank everyone who participated in our end-of-year survey. Here is a summary of the responses with 79 responses logged.
1. How is your staffing?
2. How many of your employees have been sick with COVID-19, if any? Have you had a workplace shutdown or interruption of service due to positive cases?
37 respondents say they were unaffected by illness or shutdowns.
Other responses included:
3. What percentage of your workforce was impacted by employees testing positive for COVID-19, if any?
4. How has revenue been for 2020?
5. What has been the most challenging aspect of business in 2020?
6. Have any of your clients gone out of business this year?
7. In planning for 2021, is there anything you have to plan differently than you normally do?
8. Is there something that you’d like to see NAFED doing to better support you?
There has been growing concern about the presence of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in AFFF (Aqueous Film Forming Foam). PFAS have been associated with serious environmental, pollution, and health issues. This has been a topic of discussion at NAFED conferences for the past three years. The major areas of concern have been at civilian and military airfields, petrochemical facilities, and firefighting testing and training facilities where AFFF has widespread use.
This issue also includes AFFF fire extinguishers. Recently both Amerex and Ansul have stopped production and sales of AFFF fire extinguishers and recharge agents. Badger is in the process of redesigning their stainless-steel cylinders and, once completed, will be offering their AR-AFFF extinguishers. A Buckeye representative stated that they are developing an AFFF extinguisher that should be introduced in the future.
This development has a significant impact on the fire extinguisher service industry. The current NFPA 10 requires that these extinguishers be recharged every three years and hydrotested every five years. However, without the agents being available, the extinguishers cannot be recharged and should be removed from service. Depending on the hazard being protected, another Class B rated extinguisher may be substituted. However, dry chemical or clean agent fire extinguishers do not have the ability to suppress vapors like a foam extinguisher does.
What happens next? New agents are being developed but we do not know what the timeline is before they are approved and developed for use in fire extinguishers.
The next edition of NFPA 10 is scheduled for release in 2021. The new edition contains a proposed revision to Section 18.104.22.168.1 that would read:
22.214.171.124.1 The premixed agent in liquid charge–type AFFF and FFFP fire extinguishers shall be replaced
One fire extinguisher manufacturer stated at the NFPA 10 technical committee meeting that their agent does have a five-year life. Once this agent and extinguisher becomes available there should not be a need to recharge those extinguishers on a three-year cycle.
Make certain that if you are servicing or removing AFFF extinguishers from service, the foam solution should not be disposed of by pouring into the sewer system or pouring it on the ground. The solution is considered a hazardous material and an environmental hazardous substance. Disposal must be in accordance with appropriate federal, state/provincial, and local regulations.
We want to thank everyone who participated in our August survey. Here is a summary of the responses with 119 responses logged.
"We are a small company that works mainly at nursing homes and we follow strict guidelines every day."
We had 88 responses in our latest state of business survey. Thanks to our participants - here are the results!
1. Are you fully open for business?
2. If you let employees go, have you brought them back?
3. If you have had layoffs, about what percent of your staff remains involuntarily laid off?
4. If you've invited employees back, how many of your offers of reemployment have been rejected (they're staying voluntarily unemployed)?
5. How have employees been complying with changes to cleaning/health safety standards?
6. U.S. respondents: have you applied for the Paycheck Protection Program?
7. Any other types of financial assistance you've received? How much has it helped?
8. Have you been able to obtain all the PPE you may need?
9. Have you, your employees, or any family been sick with COVID-19?
10. How are you feeling at this point in the crisis?
We want to thank everyone who participated in our April survey. Here is a summary of the responses with 132 responses logged.
1. Is your business OPEN currently? Is your state/municipality under stay-at-home order?
2. If open, what safety precautions are you taking? (select all that apply)
Some specific responses for "other" include:
3. Are you able to continue allowing your admin/office staff to work remotely
4. Have you had to lay off anyone or expect to soon?
5. Are your customers open and willing to have service done?
6. Have you, your employees, or any family been sick with COVID-19?
7. Have you been able to apply for any of the relief bill financial assistance?
Comments from those who said "No":
8. Do you have any advice for other fire equipment distributors on things you've been able to do or make work during this crisis?
9. Is there any additional information you need at this time?
The largest industry conference, the National Fire Protection Association's Conference & Expo set for June 15-18 in Orlando has officially been canceled.
Further information directly from the NFPA can be found here.
We want to thank everyone who participated in our survey. Here is a summary of the results.
2. If open, what safety precautions are you taking? What changes to employee habits?
Some specific responses include:
Responses for "other":
Remote services people are using:
7. Is there anything NAFED can do for you at this time?
As more and more states issue stay-at-home orders that require non-essential businesses to shut down, NAFED has received several calls asking if the service and maintenance of life safety and fire protection equipment and systems is considered an essential business.
We have reviewed several of the state orders and descriptions regarding essential businesses. We have also had discussions with others in the industry, and our consensus opinion is that YES, the installation, service, and maintenance of life safety and fire protection equipment is an essential business.
Although your operations are essential, you must remember that business is not “as usual.” You must take all the safety precautions that are currently required. Some actions that you should consider are:
NAFED along with FEMA and the Government Regulations Committee are monitoring the situation and a paper is being prepared for submittal to state and provincial agencies. Mark Conroy of Brooks Equipment is coordinating these efforts.
Visit the CDC, NIOSH, and your state's website for additional information.
There will be other changes to your operations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is important to remember to be safe.
We also have received additional guidance from industry partners and the Department of Homeland Security regarding essential operations during this time:
Guidance for Maintaining Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems Regardless of Occupancy Status (NFPA)
Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce (DHS - Cyber & Infrastructure Security Agency)
NAFED staff participated in a webinar "Coronavius (COVID-19): What You Need to Know" presented by the National Safety Council in partnership with the CDC. We've been given access to share this webinar with you so you can stay informed on what the World Health Organization is now classifying as a global pandemic and consider what steps may need to be taken for yourself, your business, and your employees, if you haven't already.
View the presentation here.
Other helpful links on COVID-19:
• An infographic from CDC explaining how to keep workplaces, schools, homes and commercial sites safe from coronavirus
• OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
• NIOSH Guidance on coronavirus in workplaces
• CDC guidance on mass gatherings and large events
• CDC tips on what to do if you are sick
Regarding the Conference
NAFED is aware that the progressing situation may impact our future scheduled events. We are in close touch with our event venues in Atlantic City and Chicago and will be monitoring all local advisories. If there are any changes, we will update you as soon as that decision is made. We understand if you need to make changes to your reservation and will be waiving the cancellation fee.
Be safe and be well.