Phony inspector sentenced

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

BUXTON, Maine-An investigation into illegally certified fire extinguishers that began here in the summer of 2004 concluded last month with the conviction of Dale Nason, longtime owner of Statewide Fire Protection.
Nason, 49, admitted lying to customers about having conducted required tests on high-pressure carbon dioxide fire extinguishers and was sentenced in U.S. District Court on Nov. 22 to two months in jail, four months of home detention and three years of supervised release, The Associated Press reported.
The investigation began when a Maine company questioned the authenticity of a number of cylinders bearing its Retester Identification Number.
John Dean, Maine state fire marshal, said the problem is not widespread here. "It's the first I've heard of it happening in Maine," he said.
Mark Conroy, a senior fire protection engineer with the National Fire Protection Association, said the NFPA addressed a similar problem in the late 1990s. To prevent what's known in the industry as "rag and tag," where a technician will clean off a fire extinguisher and sign a name on the paper tag without actually servicing the extinguisher, the group included a "verification of service collar" requirement in the 1998 edition of NFPA 10. The collar is plastic and is stamped with the date of service. It cannot be installed or removed without removing the valve on the extinguisher. This collar was "designed to eliminate that kind of 'rag and tag' cheating in the industry," Conroy said. "If the valve is removed, it is probable that the appropriate servicing was done."