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Fire extinguisher regulations

Hopefully you all know that the fire extinguisher regulations have changed for 2018; they now to have been serviced and tested to manufacturer guidelines within the last 2 years.

It's also worth noting that the existing regs are due to be changed in 2022 when 4 litre plumbed in systems will be mandatory, rather than the current 2.25 litre (I think that's right, anyway). The new regs were originally supposed to be introduced on 1 Jan 2019 (there was bulletin in October 2017) but that has been changed by the MSA to 1 Jan 2018.

That all said, there appears to be some confusion over what constitutes "servicing to manufacturers guidelines". One club I am associated with thinks that this means that they just have to be in date to have been serviced every 2 years. However, a Scrutineer of my acquaintance tells me that at a recent MSA Scrutineering forum, the Scrutineers were all told by Lifeline that "manufacturers guidelines" meant that extinguishers had to have been serviced by one of their own specified agents only, and if they had not been serviced for 4 years or were over 10 years old then they would not be serviced.

My issues are:

1. The MSA have given no warming of the change in date for the implementation of this rule indeed they have made things worse by initially giving a years notice and then bringing that date forward by 12 months!
2. An extinguisher may not have been serviced for 4 year but may still be serviceable, and it seem arbitrary on behalf of a manufacturer to decide that they won't service something after that gap of time, purely on time terms.
3. I am not sure that the manufacturer can insist that the extinguisher is only serviced by one of their agents - I think this is in contravention of the EU block exemption rules of 2003 - but can only insist that the extinguisher is serviced to their guidelines by a competent person.

Of course, if an extinguisher is not serviced, or fails servicing, then it's scrap, and we have to buy a new one. It would seem to me that there is a conflict of interest between the manufacturers advising the MSA and selling their own products and services!

I am hoping that someone more knowledgeable than me can enlighten us all; perhaps Jamie can comment on the legality of manufacturers insisting that extinguishers can only be serviced by themselves or one of their own agents rather than by A.N.Other certified Fire Extinguisher Engineer, and can comment on the arbitrary nature of the "4 year rule"

Re: Fire extinguisher regulations

It has been Lifeline company policy for many years not to service extinguishers more than 10 years old or those that have not been serviced for more than 4 years and I expect other manufacturers do the same. It is not an MSA stipulation.
These are safety critical items and they should be treated accordingly so it is important that they are serviced to the correct standard it is only the manufacturer who can determine that. They are plenty of agents that have the ability to carry out a service. I use Race Parts in Wallingford who will if you phone them first do it while you wait.

Re: Fire extinguisher regulations

Agreed. I go to Lifeline direct as they are very handy to me. They give a good service. The cost is almost insignificant compared to the other costs in going racing....:-)

Re: Fire extinguisher regulations

I disagree that only a manufacturer can determine whether something is serviceable or not. We dont apply the same logic to our cars. Anyway, Interestingly the MSA have changed their interpretation of the regs in the latest Scrutineers bulletin issued on Monday.

Extinguishers still need to be serviced every 2 years. No problem with that. But now only homologated systems need to go back to the manufacturer or their agent. Non homologated systems can be serviced by independent professional fire extinguisher companies.

Seems sensible.

Re: Fire extinguisher regulations

Somewhat adrift of the stern here, but it is the case that MSA UK properly has the right to invoke short notice for safety matters and of course needs-be they genuflect or react to FIA impositions as 'we' cannot be out of step - see GR A.2.5.2.

I think Lifeline in Cov' (whom we also use) charge about £40 net.

I would only add to what has gone before to say that don't forget to routinely pre-event check the pull handles and cables as I had the embarrassment at scrut' of a shiny car inside and out but the 1 season old cable simply pulling apart being completely corroded in the sheath which despite being lubed in situ' simply rotted away after a wet race (so there is a memo-to-self there on the prep' front to remove the cable and dry it out and re-lube after a wet race).