Safety

Weekly tip: Contractors’ fire extinguishers

Hospital Safety Insider, July 19, 2012

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Q: Is the hospital responsible for the fire extinguishers supplied by the contractors while they are performing work in our hospital? We had a surveyor cite us for not performing monthly inspections on a fire extinguisher that did not belong to us, but was on a construction site in the hospital.

A: Yes, the hospital is responsible for all fire extinguishers in your facility or on your property, regardless of who owns the devices. According to section 19.3.5.6 of the 2000 edition of the LSC, compliance with section 9.7.4.1 is required. Section 9.7.4.1 in turn requires compliance with NFPA 10, Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers (1998 edition) for installation, inspections, and maintenance.

Section 1.2 of the LSC states that NFPA 10 is prepared for the use and guidance of persons charged with selecting, purchasing, installing, approving, listing, designing, and maintaining portable fire extinguishers.

The Annex section of 1.2 notes that the owner or occupant of a property in which a fire extinguisher is located has an obligation for the care and use of the extinguishers at all times.

This standard does not differentiate between who owns a given extinguisher; it simply states that the owner of the building is responsible for it. When an accreditation organization surveys the hospital for compliance with the LSC, the accreditor is surveying the hospital, not the contractors. The actions and operations of contractors are your responsibility as long as they are on your property; therefore, you are responsible for the extinguishers.

This is why I always prohibited contractors from bringing their own extinguishers into the hospital where I worked. I insisted that the hospital provide adequate extinguisher coverage, and I supervised where extinguishers were located and when they were inspected. My advice is to never rely on a contractor to comply with a LSC requirement.

Editor’s note: This tip is provided by Brad Keyes, CHSP, senior editor of Healthcare Life Safety Compliance and appears in July issue.

 



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