Fire extinguishers are an integral part of any business’ fire safety plan. Not only are UK businesses legally obliged to have at least two water fire extinguishers on every floor of their premises. But if you don’t have the right extinguishers in place when they’re needed, a small fire can quickly escalate. The problem is that fire extinguishers don’t last forever. They need regular maintenance. And will sometimes need to be replaced.
So, how do you know if you should recharge or replace your fire extinguisher?
Regularly inspect your fire extinguishers
The best way to decide whether any of your fire extinguishers should be recharged or replaced is to inspect them as part of your monthly fire risk assessment. During this inspection you should check:
Whether the fire extinguishers are correctly sited.
Whether they have the correct labels and instructions in place.
The body and tags/pins should be checked for damage.
You need to check the fire extinguisher gauge to ascertain whether it is full.
And also test the weight of the extinguisher – if it feels lighter than usual, it may not be fully charged.
Routinely recharge your fire extinguishers after use
Even if a fire extinguisher has only been discharged a small amount, you should ensure that it is recharged immediately. This is because the released pressure can dramatically impact the functionality of fire extinguishers. If you know that you always recharge them after use, you can be more confident that your fire extinguishers will be ready for action, if needed.
Know when to replace your fire extinguishers
Fire extinguishers typically need to be replaced every 10 to 20 years, providing they are well-maintained. But it is important to look for damage in your monthly inspection, and act upon signs of wear and tear. While this list is far from exhaustive, these are some of the key warning signs that you need to replace your fire extinguisher:
The external shell is dented or otherwise damaged.
The handle is unstable.
The pin on the handle is either missing or broken.
The fire extinguisher’s nozzle is damaged in some way – whether blocked, cracked, or torn.
The inspection tag is missing.
If you are at all unsure about the viability of your fire extinguishers, contact your local BAFE approved fire protection company and organise a professional inspection.
And remember, no matter how thorough your inspections, or how careful your maintenance, all businesses are legally obliged to have their fire extinguishers professionally serviced annually. With a complete, extended service every five or ten years, depending on the extinguisher type.
1st Class Fire Protection is an industry-leading fire protection company serving customers throughout Norfolk, Suffolk, and the surrounding areas of Cambridgeshire. If you are looking for fire safety advice, or want to ensure your fire extinguishers are properly serviced and maintained, then get in touch today. Our experienced team of engineers can help your business stay protected.