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Guide To Fire Extinguisher Maintenance

Engineer Checking Fire Extinguisher Maintenance

Guide To Fire Extinguisher Maintenance & How Often They Should Be Serviced

As a business owner, you’re hopefully already aware of your obligations regarding fire safety in the workplace. You’ll know about the need for a relevant alarm system. And you should have a good idea about the types of fire extinguisher that your business requires. But what about fire extinguisher maintenance? What should you be doing? How often should you be doing it? And is it even necessary?

According to The Regulatory Fire Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005, all firefighting equipment, “must be subject to a suitable system of maintenance [ensuring that it is] maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.”

So, what does this mean for you in real terms?

 

Everything You Need to Know fire extinguisher maintenance expert

About Fire Extinguisher Maintenance

Fire extinguisher maintenance can be broken down into three key elements.

  • Monthly visual inspections
  • Basic annual service
  • Extended Service

 

 

Monthly visual inspections

The Regulatory Fire Reform states that, “Regular visual inspections of all portable fire extinguishers [must] be carried out by the user or user’s representative. The frequency of inspections […] should be not less than monthly and, when circumstances require, inspections should be carried out more frequently.”

We’d recommend that you complete these inspections as part of your monthly fire risk assessment routine. A checklist can help make the process as quick and efficient as possible.

Your visual inspections should include:

  • Full unit examination – Is the exterior in any way damaged? Are there any dents or scratches? Are any parts missing? Is the trigger fully intact? And has the extinguisher been used?
  • Seals – Have the tamper seals been broken or otherwise damaged? Is the headcap pin present and in place?
  • Pressure gauge – Is the extinguisher displaying safe, operational pressure?
  • Location – Are your extinguishers all in the correct locations and clearly visible?
  • Instructions – Are the extinguisher’s operating instructions visible, intact, clean, and easy to read?

These checks apply to all fire extinguisher types – Class A to F, including Electrical. It’s the best way to ensure that you have the protection you need should a fire break out.

 

fire extinguisher maintenance checklist update

 

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.

 

Extended Service

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 5 years
Powder – primary sealed 10 years
CO2 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

 

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.

 

Fire extinguisher maintenance can seem like just one fire extinguisher in usemore thing on the endless ‘to do’ list of a business. But it’s there to save lives. And if the worst should happen, you’ll be glad that you took the time to ensure that your firefighting equipment is in full working order.

 

If you need support with your fire extinguisher maintenance or you would like to book a professional service of your fire extinguishers then, please get in touch with 1st Class Fire Protection today either on 01603 742741 or request a call back with our expert team.

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