ICC Amends Fire Extinguisher Code Based on Improved Electronic Monitoring

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff December 7, 2005

In a move that’s expected to save countless hours of personnel time for businesses across the country, the International Code Council (ICC) voted to amend its International Fire Code (IFC) requiring physical inspections and maintenance of fire extinguishers from annually to only once every three years if the extinguishers are electronically monitored. The ICC made its decision during the Final Action Hearings held in conjunction with the ICC Annual Conference in Detroit, Michigan, September 25 through October 3, 2005. The code change takes effect in January.

Greg Rogers, President of the Washington State Association of Fire Marshals, which proposed the change to the ICC stated, “Electronically monitored fire extinguishers would be more reliable than their non-monitored counterparts. Their increased safety was the key that led us to endorse the change.”

The ICC allowed electronic monitoring of fire extinguishers in lieu of 30-day physical inspections at the start of 2005. This new amendment of IFC Section 906.2 (2004 Supplement) is another leap forward for electronic monitoring of extinguishers, as it changes required maintenance and inspections from once a year to once every three years.

“Our membership determined that constant electronic monitoring is an improvement over manual inspections,” said, Jim Tidwell, Vice President Fire Service Activities, International Code Council. “They concluded that a three-year inspection is a reasonable back-up measure to the monitoring technology. Overall the intent is to improve the reliability of fire extinguishers and safety for building occupants.”

ICC and National Fire Protection Association Codes require commercial occupancies, including office buildings, hospitals, schools, and hotels, to have fire extinguishers on-site. Moreover, they require 30-day physical inspections of pressure, presence and obstruction to access for each and every extinguisher. These same codes further require that each year an outside firm must come in and conduct similar inspections and maintenance.