University reinspects fire extinguishers

The out-of-date fire extinguishers in Corcoran Hall were brought into compliance earlier this month, just days after a Hatchet investigation found that equipment in the aging building violated international fire code.

Two weeks ago, 23 fire extinguishers in Corcoran Hall were overdue for inspection. After visits from Ace Fire Extinguishers, 22 of the devices have been updated with 2011 tags, marking a recent inspection. One extinguisher remains more than two years overdue for examination.

University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said the facilities services office oversees the annual inspection of more than 6,000 devices on campus, but declined to answer why some Corcoran Hall fire extinguishers were missed during multiple inspections.

“Extinguishers in Corcoran were inspected by our contractor, per the annual schedule, at the end of last month,” she said. She also declined to answer questions on the remaining out-of-complaince extinguishers.

Sherrard said fire extinguishers do not expire unless discharged or damaged, although an official at the Office of the D.C. Fire Marshal and international fire regulations mandate annual servicing.

“Portable fire extinguishers shall be selected, installed and maintained” in accordance with local and national guidelines, according to The International Fire Code, section 906.2.

The annual service involves checking the pressure gauge, verifying the seal and ensuring there is no external damage, president of Ace Fire Extinguishers Chuck Castle, said.

An “emergency service” van from Ace Fire Extinguisher – the company that inspects GW’s devices – was on campus inspecting fire extinguishers in Corcoran Hall and other buildings last week.

“The vehicle was probably servicing fire extinguishers,” a customer service representative at Ace said, although the employee could not divulge further details due to client confidentiality.

Sherrard declined to say how, or even if, the University will reevaluate its inspection procedures.

Other extinguishers inspected by The Hatchet in Monroe and the Hall of Government have valid tags, as well as all those in the Elliott School of International Affairs building and Gelman Library.

Monroe Hall, another academic building, houses at least one extinguisher that was last serviced in April 2010, rendering the inspection void as of seven months ago.

Corcoran Hall, constructed in 1924, is home to the University’s physics and chemistry departments and their laboratories.

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