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Fire Extinguisher Inspection and Maintenance — What to Do and When to Do It

June 24, 2013

Fire extinguishersMost fires begin small enough to be easily put out with a fire extinguisher. Extinguishers are your first line of defense. This is why it is so important to make sure your fire extinguishers are regularly inspected and maintained, in your home and business.

Before we get into inspections and maintenance, here are a few things to check:

  • Make sure the classification type of your extinguisher is appropriate for the type of hazards present.
  • Make sure they are approved by a recognized testing laboratory and UL (Underwriters Laboratory) Listed. (This applies to the United States. Recognized Listing organizations may vary by country or region.)
  • Make sure that extinguishers are properly placed and mounted.
  • Make sure extinguishers are easily accessible and not obstructed by storage, shelving, or anything else.
  • Make sure all members of the household or employees are trained on how to properly operate and use an extinguisher.
  • And of course, make sure they are regularly inspected and maintained.

If a fire extinguisher fails, the results can be devastating. Regular inspections and maintenance can ensure that your extinguisher will be there for you when you need it. All extinguishers should be visually inspected monthly. The date of the inspection should be written on the back of your annual maintenance tag attached to each extinguisher. Here’s what you should be looking for:

  • Make sure the extinguisher is easily accessible and not obstructed.
  • Check for any damage like dents, cracks, or rust to the outside of the extinguisher.
  • If the extinguisher is equipped with a gauge, make sure the needle is pointing to the green “charged” portion of the dial.
  • Make sure the pin and tamper seal are in place and undamaged.
  • Check the hose and nozzle (if equipped with one) for obstructions or any signs of damage or aging.
  • Tip the extinguisher upside down to loosen any compacted extinguishing agent.
  • Make sure the label is legible and facing out when the extinguisher is mounted.

If any of these are not up to snuff, contact a fire extinguisher maintenance company to check your extinguisher and make the needed repairs or replacements.

Extinguishers should be serviced at least annually by a reputable extinguisher maintenance company. The inspector will thoroughly check the extinguisher for any issues listed above and will recharge, repair, or replace any extinguishers as needed.  This inspection should also assess the need for hydrostatic testing. The maintenance company should leave a tag on each extinguisher indicating the date it was inspected and that it has been properly serviced. If no tag is present, contact the service contractor and ask them to provide one to you.

During an emergency is not when you want to find out that your fire extinguisher is not working. Regular inspections and maintenance is an easy way to ensure that it won’t let you down when you need it.

Article by: April LaRita Green

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