en-Gauge Fire and Life Safety Blog

Empty, Uninspected Fire Extinguishers in Police Cars Prompts Texas Legislation

Posted by Brendan McSheffrey on 1/25/11, 10:17 AM

As in most localities, police cars in Midland, Texas are equipped with Fire Extinguishers in case the officers come across a traffic fire emergency.  Unfortunately, it took a tragedy to realize that many of those extinguishers went years without an inspection and may have been non-functional for extended periods of time.  This discovery had prompted new legislation in Texas to ensure the exinguishers are inspected and maintained properly.

According to CBS7.com, whose investigation into the tragedy and the lack of fire extinguisher inspection inspired the proposed legislation:

...[following] a fiery car crash in 2009 that killed an 18-year-old Midland girl, her father discovered that some of those extinguishers went years without inspection. 
large_Police-Cruiser-Fire-Extinguisher

"It causes great concern for me. They had non-working fire extinguishers and one was expired for at least three to four years", said her father, Richard Corley.

A CBS 7 investigation revealed that the two extinguishers that didn't work the night of the crash weren't the only extinguishers out of date.

That became apparent when talking to the company Midland contracts for inspections.

"Vehicles are kind of funny. No matter how hard we try, we cannot catch 100 percent of the trucks or 100 percent of the vehicles. That's just the nature of the beast", said James Haun of Midessa Fire Extinguishers.

Calls to local, state and national organizations soon revealed that there is no agency or organization that oversees the inspection of fire extinguishers in city vehicles. 

"The city would be the entity that's responsible for making sure that those standards are upheld", explained Jerry Hagins of the State Fire Marshal’s Office in Austin.

It's a violation of law to have an expired fire extinguisher in a business, but having one in a police car is perfectly legal.

The comment that strikes us the most that by the company in charge of fire extinguisher inspections.  Vehicles are not "kind of funny", especially those used by our first responders most likely to be on the scene of a traffic fire.  These fire extinguisher have to work as they are extremly likely to be called upon in life and death situaitons. 

Apparently, at least one Texas Legislator feels the same way.  CBS7.com continues:

After our story, Representative Tom Craddick, decided to take action.

"To me it just makes sense. If you're going to compel your officials to have it in the car you ought to make sure they work", he said.car-fire


In drafting House Bill 564, Craddick hopes to require annual fire extinguisher inspections for local governments that keep fire extinguishers in their vehicles.

 

We couldn't agree more.  Although with fire extinguishers this vital to public safety, annual inspections probably don't go far enough.  These critical life safety devices should be subject to at least the same level of inspection as those recommended in NFPA 10 for commercial buildings - a 30-day manual inspection or electronic monitoring of those extinguishers like that provided by en-Gauge with ourelectronic fire extinguisher monitoring system.

Topics: Fire Extinguisher Inspections, Codes and Standards, Annual Inspection, Fire Extinguisher Inspection, Compliance, Uninspected Fire Extinguishers, Electronic Monitoring Fire Extinguisher, Non-functional Fire Extinguisher, Fire Extinguisher Monitoring, 30 Day Fire Extinguisher Inspection, NFPA 10 Code Compliance, NFPA 10, Empty Fire Extinguisher, Fire Fatality, Electronic Monitoring