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CO2 Cylinder Testing

    Regarding the manditory CO2 cylinder testing that was brought up 
recently: unlike the usual fare that is hashed around in this list, this is a 
topic I do know something about, as I have owned and operated fire equipment 
companies in the past. Federal law ( NFPA ) states that high pressure 
cylinders must be hydrostatically tested every five years. Even when I had 
the business going where this law was to my benefit- to help me make money- I 
still thought it was stupid. The test in question involves a visual 
inspection for rust and dents, and any swelling at the seams, then emptying 
the cylinder and placing it in a test chamber that brings it up to 2 1/2 
times the operating pressure- the whole point of the test being to ensure 
that the cylinder is strong enough to hold the pressure that it was obviously 
holding at the time it was brought in to be tested. In the years that I had 
this business operating, we ran a lot of cylinders through both shops- and 
only once have I ever seen a cylinder that failed- and that was an old 
cylinder that was not under pressure when it was brought in. 
     I'm not trying to incite people to recklessly endanger themselves or 
others, but I just wanted to state a few facts, and let everyone draw their 
own conclusions. When a high pressure cylinder has passed the hydrostatic 
test it is stamped - usually between the collar and the shoulder of the tank- 
with the month and year the test was performed and the symbol identifying the 
company who peformed the test. EG: 2 [symbol] 02. The "brand" of the company 
is usually something simple like a diamond or a triangle with a letter(s) 
inside. The stamps themselves are just manual metal punches available through 
many sources and for a variety of purposes. Some companies will spray or 
brush a little paint over the new stamp to prevent rust from developing.
     Also note: when a person goes to get a cylinder filled, the vendor is 
supposed to perform a visual inspection of the cylinder- he's looking for 
dents and rust, as mentioned above- and check the date. But people are 
basically lazy by nature, and if they see a shiny new paint job, they are 
more inclined to assume that the cylinder is new. Bear in mind- vendors are 
supposed to ask for your identification to buy cigarettes and alcohol, too, 
but depending on how the buyer looks- they may or may not. And some vendors 
just don't care.
     Like I said- I'm not trying to encourage a DIY-er crime loop, I just 
wanted to express an opinion- as someone who been on both sides of the fence.

Darcy Bachand

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