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Fire extinguisher mx requirements

Posted by whitefaced on 12.10.16 at 04:51 AM

So The FSDO was out for normal surveillance on a part 141 flight school for which I am affiliated. One of the inspectors (there were four present and are all new to the office) noted that there was no record of monthly NFPA 10 maintenance (heft check) for a handheld fire extinguisher that is installed in one of the flight training aircraft (PA28-161 Warrior). He gave me the impression that he was going to push this issue further. He went so far as to say that we could remove the extinguisher from the aircraft for relief from the additional mx requirements.

I did not comment to him (and did not remove the extinguisher), but am unaware of any requirement to perform this (or other NFPA 10 mx) on a small part 91 aircraft. All that I have ever done with these extinguishers is to inspect them during the required aircraft inspections (Annual/100hr. in this case).

I am pretty familiar with NFPA 10, and understand how it is legally imposed in other types of operations (121, 135 etc). It has been my understanding that the same requirements do not exist for part 91 aircraft subject to Annual/100hr. inspections. I am aware that NFPA 10 is a "standard" however, in general, I think its requirements are a good idea for everyone. Just not sure of their legality in this case.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Doug

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Stache Air (not verified) on Tue, 12/27/2016 - 20:08

You are correct about part 121 and 135 to inspect permanent installed fire extinguishers. However, if a General Aviation aircraft has a fire extinguisher permanently installed then it would be included on the required equipment list and may or may not affect the total weight and balance.

Second, if it is permanently installed and is now part of the equipment list it will fall under additional items to inspect part §43.15 Additional performance rules for inspections.
(a) General. Each person performing an inspection required by part 91, 125, or 135 of this chapter, shall—
(1) Perform the inspection so as to determine whether the aircraft, or portion(s) thereof under inspection, meets all applicable airworthiness requirements; …

Also, if permanently installed then part 43 §43.13 Performance rules (general) will apply to use the methods, techniques, and practices prescribed in the current manufacturer's maintenance manual or Instructions for Continued Airworthiness prepared by its manufacturer, or other methods, techniques, and practices acceptable to the Administrator.

On these fire extinguishers the manufacture says to inspect every 30-days. Seems to me this would be a required inspection if it is installed permanent and would require an aircraft record entry for the inspection every 30-days.

If the fire extinguisher is NOT permanently installed then it would not have to be inspected, but from my own experience they are attached to the floor or side wall as a permanent installation and many do NOT have a record entry indicating they were installed.

Just to CYA I would recommend a 30-day inspection per the sticker on the bottle if it is installed permanently.

whitefaced on Wed, 12/28/2016 - 19:11

Stache,

The extinguishers are all permanently installed as I understand that concept to be.

My basic question pertains to the WHEN component of inspection requirements. The FSDO seemed to take issue with the fact that there was no record of monthly heft checks for the installed fire extinguishers.
Neither 43.15 or 43.13 make monthly fire extinguisher checks mandatory for small non-turbine aircraft as near as I can tell.

43.15 is only applicable when one is performing a legally required inspection (which in my case would be 91.409 Annual/100hr. or 91.207 ELT inspection or 91.411/91.413 alt transponder static system inspection). Therefore in the case of extinguishers, they would be inspected during the aircraft Annual/100hr. inspection. As I see it, 43.15 would at that point, require me the inspector, to ensure that no airworthiness directives or airworthiness limitations exist pertaining to them. This would be in addition to the required inspection of the extinguisher (s) as a part of the scope and detail of the aircraft Annual/100 hr. as required by 43 app. D.

43.13 is a performance rule. It does not speak to WHEN inspections are required to be performed. It speaks to HOW inspections are to be performed.

I have inspected many many small piston aircraft that have permanently installed handheld fire extinguishers, and except for those operating on a 135 certificate, I have never seen anyone documenting monthly checks on them. I have never even seen documentation for 6 yr. mx or 12 yr. hydro checks outside of the 135 world.

Doug Hereford

Anyoneofus (not verified) on Sat, 12/31/2016 - 13:50

What nonsense. Of course you could entertain these dimwits and CYA by inspecting every 30 days, but by doing so, you are feeding the trolls. What's next? Shelf life expirations on the "flight line" in the stiokroom?

Stache has really twisted and tortured not only the regulations, but simple logic in arriving at his conclusion.

I'd tell them to stuff it and pursue certificate action if they didn't accept the idea of inspecting the fire bottle during the 100 hour/annual inspection.

Better yet, maybe I would I would placard it inoperative per the 91.213 procedure just to show them their stupid logic. Would they pursue certificate action against a pilot who used it in an emergency if it were placarded inop???

Stache, in all seriousness, I do appreciate your contributions here, but frankly, this is absurd.

How did FAA allow Cessna to produce and deliver this aircraft with a fire bottle as a factory option without incorporating volumes of inspection criteria for it in the maintenance manual??

Maybe, just maybe some folks at the factory and the MIDO exercised common sense.

whitefaced on Tue, 01/03/2017 - 15:59

You read my mind.
My local FSDO is a bunch of idiots these days.

Stache, you seriously need to rethink your interpretation of some of these rules. We may get back to the ICA debate before this is over.

Doug Hereford

n14ky on Thu, 01/05/2017 - 08:03

Doug,
A couple points, the mounting bracket is installed, the extinguisher is simply placed in the bracket. While we do usually have the entire assembly listed on the equipment list, one could argue that it is not "Installed".

When the alleged installation was made, are there ICAs related to that installation? If there are ICAs, within them are there Airworthiness Limitations? I'm pretty sure there aren't, so there is no 14 CFR requirement to inspect outside the normal annual/100 hour, and only a requirement to meet the minimum inspection requirements of 43 Appendix D paragraph (c)(7)All systems--for improper installation, poor general condition, apparent and obvious defects, and insecurity of attachment.

NFPA 10 deals primarily with portable fire extinguishers located in structures. There is nothing in NFPA 10 that deals specifically with fire extinguishers installed in vehicles. While the information in NFPA 10 can be used for such installations, it is not written as a guide or standard for such installations.

The long and short of this is, unless you have an Airworthiness Limitation associated with the fire extinguisher, the only requirement for a Part 91 small aircraft is to comply with 91.409 annual and 100 hour (if applicable) inspections.

Next time the inspector tries to pull requirements out of his hat, ask him to please reference the specific 14 CFR requirement.

whitefaced on Thu, 01/05/2017 - 08:11

N14KY,
I agree........... There are no AD's or AWL against the extinguishers. I have no plans to remove them or change the inspection program.

If it comes up with the FAA again, I will do as you suggest and request a regulatory citation. I did not do it the first time because I wanted to make sure of my understanding of the requirements first.

They (FSDO inspectors) gave me the impression that they were going to follow up with me on this issue, and I hope that they do.

Thanks,
Doug

Anyoneofus (not verified) on Thu, 01/05/2017 - 09:13

Excellent, common sense abounds. I'd like to point out a couple of things. First, it could very well be that the FSDO personnel pushing this are well intended, yet confused. If that is the case, then it is a simple matter of diplomatically educating them and sending them on their way. I fully agree that a harmonious and professional working relationship if preferable.

Often times personalities get in the way and it is not unheard of for a govt regulator to seek other forms of retributions for not yielding to their demands. You will be accused of having an anti authority attitude, disregard for safety, all the buzzwords typically used on anyone pushing back on this sort of nonsensical stupidity.

Lastly, FAA is making great strides in this area via the NORSEE policy. Fire Extinguishers can be easily installed and note that they do NOT require ICAs, rather ICMOs, Instructions For Continued Maintenance and Operation, which are less stringent and less binding.

whitefaced on Thu, 01/05/2017 - 12:12

I am not familiar with the NORSEE policy, but it sounds like it might be a good thing.

I think there is real value in maintaining a good working relationship with the FAA. I don't ever pick fights with them. At the same time, in trying to run a business and keep costs reasonable, I think it makes sense to control runaway opinions from these guys. Seems like you guys are saying that too.

It is pretty frustrating to see what appears to be a wide-spread lack
of knowledge of the rules by people who are supposed to know better. And worse, they initiate these issues every time in my experience. It is not like I went to them and said, I'm not doing monthly heft checks, what are you going to do about? Or I didn't sign my certificate, or I did not re-inspect the ELT, or I don't sign-off non-applicable ADs etc....... They bring this stuff in an authoritative way.

In this case, if they don't follow-up on the extinguisher issue, I will probably just let it go. If they do, I am confident that their regulatory basis will be as Stache stated............43.13 and/or 43.15 which I still think is totally baseless.

anyoneofus (not verified) on Thu, 01/05/2017 - 14:38

Sorry, I should have included that in my post.

http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgPolicy.nsf/0/1790b02f1833357486257f9200592110/$FILE/PS-AIR-21.8-1602.pdf

Yeah, I'd argue that regulatory basis and it might be a good idea to go ahead and ask for a Chief Counsel opinion as a CYA. It's a shame you have to expend time on this type on nonsense.

anyoneofus (not verified) on Sat, 01/07/2017 - 05:00

My apologies Doug, I should have included the policy in my post. I,'m surprised none of our resident "experts" didn't jump to to the task, but seems they have gone silent after the STC ICA discussion.

http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgPolicy.nsf/0/1790b02f1833357486257f9200592110/$FILE/PS-AIR-21.8-1602.pdf

In any event, the attitude at the higher levels in the FAA is swinging towards one of common sense and easing the regulatory burden in the interest of enhancing safety. So, should you continue to be troubled, or feel harassment at the local level, you should elevate those concerns up the chain for some corrective action.

whitefaced on Mon, 01/09/2017 - 19:44

Yep,
I will expend more of my own personal resources to defend myself, and more importantly, my customer's position............ By doing as you suggest (anyoneofus) and getting a chief counsel opinion to help confirm my opinion on the subject of fire extinguisher required inspections............which still won't silence the other side.

The meter is running on you FAA experts..............Just kidding because I know that I can never collect on an invoice submitted to you for my unnecessary labor invested to prove this out.

I would say that I have never felt harassed by the FAA. However they have consistently been a source of unbillable labor.

I will continue to NEVER underestimate the power of the local FSDO and others (Stache) to rightly or mostly wrongly effect my ability to provide a quality aircraft maintenance product to my customers by spreading complete misinformation.................and passing it off as correct because of your past resume.

Doug Hereford

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