Push for monitored extinguisher use succeeds

Thursday, December 1, 2005

SOUTH KITSAP, Wash.--Vandals' costly tampering with fire extinguishers is one of the reasons fire marshals here led the charge to change inspection requirements for electronically monitored fire extinguishers from once-a-year to once-every-three years.
The International Code Council--whose fire code is used by many state and local municipalities--approved the change at its annual conference this fall in Detroit.
The code change gives end users another incentive to invest in electronically monitored extinguishers--a product that is more reliable and much more resistant to vandalism than ordinary fire extinguishers, said Greg Rogers, president of the Washington State Association of Fire Marshals.
Less frequent inspections will also save end users money, Rogers said. Over a three-year period, end users will save about $70 per extinguisher, which can add up in venues such as schools that have many fire extinguishers.
"We went through a lengthy process to get the endorsement of certain groups before we brought the proposed change before the ICC," said Rogers.
Rogers first learned about the monitoring technology two years ago when the Federal Emergency Management Agency and MIJA, a Rockland, Mass.-based developer of electronically monitored fire extinguishers, came here to make a presentation to his association.
Before bringing the proposed change to the ICC this fall, Rogers garnered their backing and that of another key industry group--the Western/Canadian Fire Code Action Committee
The change was overwhelmingly approved. Utah adopted the code and Washington state will soon follow, Rogers said.
John McSheffrey, vice president of business development for MIJA, whose business will likely benefit from the code change, said, "We are flattered to be recognized by both the code world and also the fire marshals as a viable technology."
Rogers believes that the move to monitoring fire extinguishers is a logical progression of technology. "We literally monitored every piece of fire protection equipment, but not the extinguishers," he said.