If you are ever faced with having to use a fire extinguisher in anger you need it to do exactly what it’s supposed to – extinguish a fire. Mostly, fire extinguishers will never get used, and sit on their bracket without most users giving them a second thought, but there are still numerous reasons that can cause them to fail. It is critical that your fire extinguishers get serviced on an annual basis and GetTesting can provide this for you with minimal disruption and expert advice
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What is fire extinguisher servicing?
Fire extinguisher servicing is a process where a trained engineer performs a series of inspections on the fire extinguishers installed in a building. These include checking the contents of the extinguisher to make sure it hasn’t leaked, lost pressure or been used, checking around the body of the extinguisher for damage or rust & around the functional parts, such as the handles, valve and hose to make sure they won’t impede its use when you need it.
Why do I need to perform fire extinguisher servicing?
First and foremost it’s important to have the piece of mind that your fire extinguishers are in good working order. They are a pressure vessel and over time things can go wrong. Something as simple as a damaged o-ring could lead to leakage and pressure escaping. An extinguisher that doesn’t work when needed isn’t much use to anybody.
Monthly visual inspections
Some simple monthly inspections should be undertaken by a responsible person from within the organisation:
- • Check the extinguisher is in the correct place & hasn’t been ‘borrowed’
- • That there’s no obstructions that would prevent a user getting to the extinguisher
- • Operating instructions (label/graphics on the body) are clear, legible and facing forwards
- • The fire extinguishers are full and not damaged
- • The pressure is within the recommended levels (needle in the green zone)
- • The tamper seals or indicators are in place
If anything is out of order you should record this in your fire log book & contact your servicing supplier if anything needs further action, such as a recharge or replacement.
How often do my fire extinguishers need servicing?
Fire extinguishers should be serviced by a suitably competent person on an annual basis. There are two main types of service – a basic service which is carried out annually, and an extended service, which on most extinguishers is carried out every five years. A basic service is a series of visual inspections and some simple calculations, whereas an extended service is a full performance test, including a ‘discharge’ test. Once discharged, the extinguisher requires re-filling.
Depending on the type of extinguisher and its contents, a swap-out or new extinguisher maybe a better option due to environmental regulations.
|Basic Service||Extended Service|
|Water||1 year||5 years|
|Water w/ additive||1 year||5 years|
|Foam||1 year||5 years|
|Powder¹||1 year||5 years|
|CO2||1 year||10 years²|
|Wet Chemical||1 year||5 years|
|Specialist Powder||1 year||5 years|
|Aerosol Type³||1 year||5 years|
- ¹ - Factory sealed-type powder extinguishers require an extended service every 10 years.
- ² - CO2 extinguishers require an overhaul every 10 years. This involves a series of complex factory tests by the manufacturer.
- ³ - Aerosol type extinguishers are generally smaller units, most commonly found in vehicles.
In nearly all cases, replacement of the above types is generally cheaper and easier than performing extended servicing & overhauls.
Are there any differences in servicing methods between extinguishers?
Yes – some older style extinguishers contain a gas-filled cartridge and these cartridges must be swapped at least every 10 years. As they aren’t under pressure until operated, these can be opened up and inspected internally. These however are becoming increasingly rare.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) extinguishers are classed as high-pressure vessels and must undergo an overhaul every 10 years which involves a series of tests at the manufacturer’s facility. In practice it’s cheaper to replace and we can send the old CO2 extinguishers for recycling.
Is your fire extinguisher servicing due? Get in touch for a quotation or to arrange a site visit