Do you know how often you should service your fire extinguishers and what’s involved?
It might be one of those mundane jobs your team really doesn’t like to do, but you’ll be glad they did in the event of fire.
How often should fire extinguishers be serviced?
BS5306 stipulates that a fire extinguisher should be serviced once each year by a qualified professional. It is also good practice to walk around every week to check that all extinguishers are where they should be and that there is no obvious damage to any of the units.
There are two main types of fire extinguisher (although SS Systems also sell a “water mist” fire extinguisher: stored pressure fire extinguisher and cartridge operated extinguishers.
What’s involved in a fire extinguisher service?
Each manufacturer will have their own guidelines with regard to servicing. In general, however, the service usually consists of the following checks for pressure fire extinguishers:
• Visual inspection for corrosion or damage
• Make sure the fire extinguisher hasn’t been used (eg pin missing)
• The pressure gauge reading is still within the green area
• The operating instruction label is intact and complete
• Weigh the extinguisher and investigate any with more than 10% weight loss
• Ensure the wall mountings are secure and in suitable condition
There are additional checks required for cartridge operated extinguishers, including:
• Removing the hose, checking for blockages and replacing the “O” ring
• Checking for powder settling or clumping (in a powder extinguisher) and replacing any powder as necessary
• For water based extinguishers, the contents are generally poured out into a separate container so that the inside can be inspected with a torch for corrosion or damage, then water replaced
• Inspect the extinguisher headcap and ensure that the relevant information remains clearly visible (includes manufacturer details, chemical contents, weight statistics and British Standard details)
All extinguishers should be labelled at each service to show when the service was carried out.
But that’s not the end!
If you have a water, foam, powder or wet chemical extinguisher, then every 5 years the fire extinguisher will need an extended service which includes:
• Discharging the extinguisher
• Examine the inside of the fire extinguisher for corrosion and damage
• Check removable parts for corrosion or damage and replace as necessary
• Rinse water based fire extinguishers out with water
• Refill & re-pressurise the extinguisher
It could be past it!
Sometimes an extended service can cost more than buying new fire extinguishers so ask your supplier before you put your hand in your pocket.
If your extinguisher is more than 20 years old, I’m afraid it’s past its useful life and must be replaced.