Basic annual service
As an employer, you are legally obliged to have your fire extinguishers professionally serviced every 12 months. What this entails varies according to extinguisher type. But it will typically involve full operational testing, the replacement of all seals and junction valve O rings and pressure gauge functionality testing, The service technician will also conduct a visual inspection much like the one that you conduct on a monthly basis, ensuring that the external unit is undamaged, and instructions are clearly visible.
Once your annual basic service has been completed, the service technician will fill out each fire extinguisher’s service history maintenance label for your records.
Depending on the type of fire extinguisher you are working with, you will need to arrange an extended service for all units every five or ten years. You can find an overview in the following chart.
|Extinguisher type||Extended service period|
|Water and water based||5 years|
|Powder – primary sealed||10 years|
This servicing is much more involved than the basic annual service and should be conducted by a trained and accredited professional.
For most forms of fire extinguisher – CO2 being the exception – the servicing will involve:
- An in-depth examination of the external unit to ensure that it is still fit for use – free from dents, scratches, and other damage.
- The full discharging of the unit. During this procedure, the technician will record the pattern, duration and distance of the spray. If any of these elements fail to fall within the mandatory specification, component replacement will be required.
- From there, the technician will conduct a full inspection, checking for internal corrosion and ensuring that the internal lining is intact. The extinguisher’s valves will be cleaned, checked, and if necessary, replaced. The headcap O ring will also be replaced, and the headcap assembly reseated. This ensures that the unit will hold pressure.
- The fire extinguisher will then be refilled, leak-tested, and repressured according to specification.
CO2 fire extinguisher extended service
Because Carbon Dioxide (CO2) fire extinguishers are high pressure units, their extended service is slightly different to other extinguishers. Again, it is essential that you use a fully accredited technician for this service. To ensure unit safety, and prevent injury during servicing.
As part of the UK’s fire safety regulations, the maintenance of CO2 fire extinguishers must include:
- Hydrostatic pressure checking to ensure that the external body is safe, free from cracking, stretching or any distended areas.
- The primary valve must also be replaced.
- And the full unit will be inspected to ensure that all specifications are met, and the unit is fully compliant with fire safety regulations.
In some cases, it can be cheaper and simpler to replace your CO2 extinguishers every ten years. If you take that route, contact your local fire safety professionals for safe disposal – these units will usually be professionally refurbished.
Defunct fire extinguisher disposal
If carefully maintained, your fire extinguishers can last for years. Units don’t come with any specific ‘use by’ or disposal date. But over time, you may well find that replacement parts become unavailable, which makes servicing either more costly or simply not possible. Manufacturing standards and fire safety regulations also change periodically, which can necessitate a change of unit.
Because fire extinguishers are classified as hazardous waste, they need to be disposed of carefully. Environmental regulations mean that you should not discharge the units unnecessarily. Some larger Household Waste Recycling Centres will accept fire extinguishers, we recommend contacting your local council recycling centre to find out the rules and regulations. Alternatively, here at 1st Class Fire Protection, we offer a fire extinguisher disposal service for a low and simple cost of £3.40 per extinguisher. Get in touch with our team to find out more.