How important is maintenance and testing of ground ladders and fire hose?


CarolinaFireJournal - Daniel J. Cimini
Daniel J. Cimini
04/21/2013 -

This article will explain the importance of testing ground ladders and fire hose to the NFPA Standards. This article will cover some of NFPA 1932 and NFPA 19 minimum requirements for establishing an inspection, maintenance, and testing program for your ground ladders and fire hose:

  • NFPA 1932 Standard on Use, Maintenance, and Service Testing of In-Service Fire Department Ground Ladders
  • NFPA 1962 Standard for Inspection, Care, and Use of Fire Hose, Couplings, and Nozzles and the Service Testing of fire Hose.
NFPA 1932 Standard on Use, Maintenance, and Service Testing of In-Service Fire Department Ground Ladders specifies requirements for the use, maintenance, inspection, and service testing of fire department ground ladders. The standard also provides a means to determine if in-service fire department ground ladders are fit for continued service.
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The purpose of the standard is also to establish that safety is the primary concern for continued in-service use of fi re hose, couplings, nozzles, and appliances and that safety is the ultimate decision to retire fi re hose, couplings, nozzles and appliances.

NFPA 1962 is a standard that will help you in the care, testing and repairs information that you can use to make sure that your fire hose remains reliable and safe to use.

Trained and certified personnel should only conduct service testing of fire department ground ladders, and the standards test should be completed annually.

Preventive maintenance is defined as the act of keeping something in proper working condition by performing necessary actions in a routine manner to prevent failure or breakdown.

A visual inspection of all fire ground ladders should be completed on a monthly basis and after each use to ensure operational readiness.

The visual inspection shall include but not be limited to the items listed in “Chapter 6 Section 6.1 Inspection of Ground Ladders.” Any condition that is found during the visual inspection should be noted and the ladder placed out of service until repairs can be made. It is important to properly tag the ladder stating it is out of service and the reasons shall be noted on the tag.

The repairs should be done in accordance with the ladder manufacturer’s instructions and then service tested in accordance with sections 7.2, 7.3, and 7.4 of the 1932 Standard.

You should be maintaining your ladders per the ladder manufacturer’s recommendations. Special attention should be given to the halyards and wire ropes on extension ladders if they show signs of fraying or kinking, replace them immediately.

Inspection of the heat sensor labels is important, if the label has an expiration date which has passed, or there is no date on the label, the heat sensor label must be replaced. You can contact the ladder manufacturer to purchase new ones.

The Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) should develop an inspection form to be used by the individuals who are inspecting the ladders to record the visual checks.

NFPA 1932 offers a Fire Department Ground Ladder Test Record that can be copied to use as your record. The AHJ should be contracting with a testing company and should evaluate the qualifications and experience of the testing company. If there are questions about the type of test, contact the ground ladder manufacturer for clarification.

Any requirements or suggestions a fire department ground ladder manufacturer makes with regard to care and maintenance of their products should be followed.

“NFPA 1962 Standard for Inspection, Care, and Use of Fire Hose, Couplings, and Nozzles and the Service Testing of Fire Hose” gives a purpose to provide requirements for the inspection, care, and use of fire hose, couplings, nozzles, and appliances and the testing of fire hose. The standard provides a means to determine the reliability of fire hose, nozzles and appliances when operated at the scene of an incident.

The purpose of the standard is also to establish that safety is the primary concern for continued in-service use of fire hose, couplings, nozzles, and appliances and that safety is the ultimate decision to retire fire hose, couplings, nozzles and appliances.

“Section 4.6 Hose Inspection” states that physical inspection shall determine that the hose and couplings have not been damaged and are free of debris and shall not exhibit any evidence of mildew, rot, or damage by chemicals, burns, abrasion and vermin.

Fire hose should have accurate up-to-date records maintained. Keeping good records is essential and important in collecting data to determine hose performance and ensure safe use in firefighting. The records can also assist in cost-effectiveness in determining the life and performance of the hose when looking at purchasing new hose. It is important that each length of hose has a number assigned to it and placed at each end of the length as well as being stamped on the couplings.

These records should be kept in a central location, if the department has multiple stations duplicate records should be kept at the fire station the hose is assigned to and the administration offices. ISO requires that hose be tested according to NFPA 1962, should records not be kept it can reduce the applicable points credit by 20 percent for tables 512.B and 512.C.

All conditions, repairs, changes, and problems should be recorded for each length of hose. The use of a card or a computer record are the most common forms to keep the records. The AHJ should develop a means to keep the records. A sample of a record card is shown in Annex “A” of NFPA 1962 section A.5.1.3, use of an excel sheet can be made depicting all the information that should be kept to insure the hose condition allows for safe use by the company to which it is assigned.

A hose repair tag should be developed by the AHJ which should be used when a problem is determined during operation or at testing. This tag should include the ID number, unit number or company assigned to, repairs needed and repairs made and who did the repairs and what the service test psi was along with the date of the test. A sample tag is shown in NFPA 1962 Annex “A” figure A.5.1.6.

The tag should be forwarded to administration when the repairs are made so it can be recorded. The company should also note the repairs in its records as well.

All fire hose has an expected service life. That life will depend on a lot of things, such as the initial quality of the hose, the type of service that the hose is subjected to and the care it is given during its in-service life. The AHJ should develop an inspection and care Standards, Objectives and Goals (SOG) based on NFPA 1962 standards. The SOG should also address the retirement requirements for the hose.

One reason for keeping records is to evaluate how different fire hoses perform over time. The record will provide the use experience the AHJ needs to determine what a good service life is for the different types of hose and help make decisions on when the hose should be retired.

Testing of various fire hose by the Fire Equipment Manufacturers Association showed that there is an increased risk of failure of hose that is 10 years or older. The testing looked at the reduction in burst pressure, ozone degradation, liner adhesion and degradation, hose strength, normal wear patterns and UV degradation of fibers.

The AHJ should establish their own retirement schedule but should give consideration to a 10 year maximum service life under normal operating conditions.

The fire department should identify all outside resources — equipment dealers with repair capabilities — that repair and test hose. Develop a working relationship with these companies and make sure to check out their references before allowing them to work on your hose and appliances.

NFPA 1962 is a standard that will help you in the care, testing and repairs information that you can use to make sure that your fire hose remains reliable and safe to use.



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The purpose of the standard is also to establish that safety is the primary concern for continued in-service use of fire hose, couplings, nozzles, and appliances and that safety is the ultimate decision to retire fire hose, couplings, nozzles and appliances.

Daniel Cimini is assistant chief (retired) of the Myrtle Beach Fire Department and member of the NFPA 1901 Technical Committee.
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