Proper Fire Extinguisher Protection for MRI Rooms In Hospitals & Medical Facilities

MRI suites in hospitals are often considered special hazard, not just because of the high electrical voltages and magnetic equipment properties present but because they are specially constructed and controlled environments having limited amounts of any unnecessary commonly combustible materials present.  MRI rooms are also controlled applications with restricted access and staffed by educated, responsible and well trained personnel. When protecting MRI rooms from fires we need to make sure we select the correct fire extinguisher.  It needs to be a non-magnetic MRI compatible fire extinguisher. There are various agents to choose from.   We need to choose one for the MRI room and the hall or common area.

In September of 2005 a new MR equipment testing and marking standard was adopted by the FDA. This new standard for marking medical devices and other items for safety testing within magnetic resonance environments is ASTM-2503-05. It is important to realize that MRI equipment manufactured, tested, labeled or installed prior to the introduction of this standard could be improperly marked and present potential safety concerns. Properly tested and labeled MR fire extinguishers will typically address any special installation and service recommendations on the nameplate or within their owner’s manual.

Based on the controlled environment and fire hazard materials typically found in and associated with MRI rooms, we recommend the use of the small, lightweight and effective model B5V-MR Carbon Dioxide Portable Fire Extinguisher.  Use of this type of fire extinguisher is also recommended by the healthcare’s leading safety organization, ECRI Institute. (Reference: “Choosing fire extinguishers for use in MR environments” in Health Devices October 2005; 34(10):3423).

To address the various NFPA-10 general occupancy Class “A”, “B” and “C” fire protection coverage requirements for areas outside MRI equipment rooms, the selection and use of a Multipurpose Dry Chemical Extinguisher rated MRI CONDITIONAL can be utilized. While a multipurpose dry chemical extinguisher can present various clean up exposure concerns to some equipment, it has the necessary 3A:40B:C fire rating to address various minimum occupancy fire protection code coverage requirements. Because in the past, some outside fire extinguishers have been brought into MRI rooms during emergency fire situations, many insurance and hospital safety interests sometimes desire any portable fire extinguishers being installed on MRI equipment floors within a building, to also be properly tested and rated MR-CONDITIONAL.

Source: Badger Technical Bulletin “MRI Portable Fire Extinguishers (Applications Questions & Answers) May 2009











Don Workman

Fire Protection General Manager

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