The United States Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates what items trucks transport and how they transport them, for the safety of everyone on the road. The FMCSA’s Shippers General Requirements, Packaging and Exceptions rules and regulations include Part 173.309: Fire Extinguishers and Part 393.95: Emergency Equipment on all Power Units. A vehicle that transports hazardous materials requiring DOT labeling must have an operational fire extinguisher. Fire extinguishers are subject to certain labeling and packaging requirements, and civil or criminal penalties can result from violations of FMCSA rules and regulations.
Under Part 173.309, fire extinguishers must contain nonpoisonous, noncorrosive and nonflammable materials. Extinguishers with less than 1660 kPa (kilospascal is a unit of measurement for gas and materials under pressure) aren’t required to be labeled like other gases and hazardous materials. Fire extinguishers must be tested, though, to ensure they're operational and must be labeled with the test date, and must meet specific pressure requirements. Part 393.95 specifies that fire extinguishers must contain agents that don’t need freeze protection.
Size of Extinguishers
Part 393.95 specifies that fire extinguishers with an Underwriter’s Laboratories rating of at least 10 B:C are required emergency equipment for vehicles transporting hazardous materials with DOT labels. Smaller capacity extinguishers are allowed on vehicles that don’t have hazardous materials.
Labeling, Inspection and Location
Part 393.95 specifies that fire extinguishers must have the Underwriter’s Laboratories rating on its label. Fire extinguishers must be designed and handled so users can easily determine if they're full, and must be easily accessible and securely mounted so they don’t move during transport. Shipments of quantities of fire extinguishers as cargo must be labeled in accordance with hazardous materials transportation requirements.
Violations of DOT fire extinguisher rules and regulations can result in significant penalties and fines. The Department of Transportation can hold up an entire shipment for violations until regulation requirements are met, and fines for violations can run into the thousands of dollars. More importantly, violations can result in further investigation of safety procedures, possibly uncovering further violations and impeding operations. There are also real costs involved in noncompliance beyond fines, including time, labor and criminal charges.