In case of a small fire in our home or workplace, fire extinguishers are probably our best friends. But if they are not maintained properly and fail to work at the time of need, a big hazard can easily occur. We often forget to inspect and maintain them properly, which is not the right thing for both us and the extinguisher itself. So, our fire extinguishers need to be inspected after a certain period of time.
Fire extinguishers should be inspected and maintained on a regular basis in order to ensure that the extinguisher is effective in putting out fires. For internal inspection, it would be good to inspect ones a month. Inspection may include testing the propellant, checking for leaks, and checking for proper operation amd other things.
Though we all are familiar with portable fire extinguishers, many of us don’t know how and when to inspect them. This article will address how often a fire extinguisher should be inspected.
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Fire extinguisher inspection requirements
Before we start, we need to know that we should visually inspect a fire extinguisher once a month, do a maintenance inspection once a year and do an internal maintenance inspection once in 1-6 years, depending on the type of the extinguisher.
Now the question that may come to your mind is, who can inspect fire extinguishers? Let me clear that briefly.
The professional fire protection company of each area, sends trained and certified technicians for annual and internal inspections. But the monthly inspection can be done by just about anyone with little or no specialized training. So, you can also do the monthly inspection of the portable fire extinguishers in your home or workplace.
How Often Should I Inspect A Fire Extinguisher?
Visual Inspection – Once a month
Monthly inspection of fire extinguishers is not only a state fire code and OSHA [29 CFR 1910.157(e)(2), requirement but also a good practice that helps to keep your equipment ready in case of an emergency.
Those who elect to do the monthly in-house inspection, follow the steps below for
- Keep a log of all extinguishers locations and visit each station on the list.
- Make sure that each extinguisher is located in its designated place.
- Ensure the operating instructions are visible and face the front.
- Look at the pressure gauge and ensure that the needle is pointing towards green, signifying no pressure leak.
- Check the tamper seal in a pull pin to ensure they’re in place. The temper seal protects the pull pin from being accidentally pulled out.
- Inspect the body of the extinguisher properly. Look for any dent, corrosion, or signs of leakage.
- Then check the discharge hose for any dry, rugged, or blockages at the nozzle.
- Unscrew the hose and inspect the opening for any signs of discharge. Also, check the screw thread of the hose for any blockages.
- Turn the extinguisher upside down to fluff the dry chemical. This stops the extinguishing agent from packing up at the base if it’s not carbon dioxide or another gas.
- Lastly, write the date and the inspector’s name on the inspection card and attach it to the extinguisher.
Maintenance Inspection – Once a year
Though we perform a monthly inspection of a portable fire extinguisher, we need it to go through a maintenance inspection once a year. According to OSHA 29 CFR 1910.157(e)(3), a fire extinguisher should undergo a yearly maintenance inspection where a professional checks everything. The extinguisher may need to be repaired or replaced if the professional finds it needs to be repaired or replaced.
The professional fire protection company in every location sends someone to collect the fire extinguishers or send professionals with the necessary equipment to perform the maintenance inspection once a year. The person sent is trained well and has all the knowledge about it.
Once the maintenance inspection is done, the professional inspector attaches a tag with the inspection date to the extinguisher and places it in its designated location.
Internal Maintenance Inspection – Once in 1-6 years.
Like the previous one, the internal maintenance inspection also needs to be performed by a professional from the fire protection company. Dry chemical fire extinguishers require a hydrostatic test every 12 years and an internal examination every 1-6 years, depending on the type of fire extinguishers.
Internal maintenance includes discharging all the parts of a fire extinguisher and an internal examination. The professional takes out all the extinguishing agent and recharge the extinguishing agent until the extinguisher is fully charged.
All the fire extinguisher cylinders should be hydrostatically tested to ensure their functionality. Generally, extinguishers that use carbon dioxide and wet chemicals need to undergo a hydrostatic test every 5 years. You can get a complete chart here for test intervals for different fire extinguishers.
Who can inspect fire extinguishers?
In order to ensure that fire extinguishers are properly inspected and maintained, certain individuals must have the appropriate qualifications. These individuals include:
- Firefighters – Firefighters are the first responders on scene of a fire or any other emergency situation. As such, they are responsible for ensuring that all fires are extinguished and any hazardous materials removed from the area. In addition, firefighters must be familiar with proper use of fire extinguishers in order to protect both themselves and others.
- Building Officials – Building officials play an important role in maintaining safe buildings by inspecting properties for code violations and issuing permits when necessary. They also inspect fire extinguisher systems as part of their regular inspections.
- Extinguisher testing companies: There are many fire extinguiser testing companies who are responsible for ensuring that all fire extinguishers meet specific safety standards. They also test the effectiveness of firefighting equipment in order to ensure that it is able to protect people and property.
Proper maintenance and inspection of your fire extinguisher can help you the most in trouble situations. So never forget to perform a monthly inspection of the fire extinguishers at your place and take action immediately if any changes should be made.
Contact a professional if you face any issues while performing an inspection and fix it. In a nutshell, properly maintain your extinguishers by following the above instructions and always be safe.
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I’m Bobby Taylor, a tech lover, writer, and editor for Smart Home Protector. I am also a customer relationship officer of a well established electronics manufacturer company in the United States.