Hand Portable Fire Extinguishers

Fire Extinguisher Maintenance

Proper fire extinguisher maintenance is essential to the safety of any workplace, and is also a legal requirement for any employer. Making sure that all your fire safety equipment is in proper working order is a requirement under current UK legislation, but it also makes a lot of sense from a business continuity perspective too. In general there are two things you need to do in order to ensure proper fire extinguisher maintenance. Have your appliances inspected by a trained engineer at least once per year, and carry out regular in house checks yourself at more frequent intervals.

Fire Extinguisher Maintenance – Testing And Inspection

 

The Annual Service Inspections to be undertaken are as follows:

  • Check that any tamper seals are fully intact prior to commencing any servicing.

(If the unit has been tampered with we would recommend it be discharged and refilled to ensure full compliance)

  • Check that the appliance has not been damaged, looking out for dents, cracks or signs of rust. Make sure it is clean and that all instructions can be easily read.

(If the unit has been damaged we would recommend it be replaced to ensure full compliance)

  • Check that the pressure is at the recommended level using either a gauge pump or needle. Check that the needle is in the green area, showing that the pressure is correct.

(If the pressure is too low it may need to be recharged/replaced)

  • Check that the weight is correct as per the previous service report / Manufactures recommendations
  • Remove the tamper seal and safety pin and check all moving parts are free from dirt etc.
  • Replace the tamper seal and check that the safety pin is properly in place (in the handle) and secure.
  • Make sure the extinguisher has a proper label and is not dirty or covered with any material that prevents the label being easily read.
  • Return the appliance to its location and ensure it is in its proper place, easily accessible and not obstructed by anything else (including not being used as a coat hanger or door stop!).
  • Complete the service report of works completed together with any addition recommendations required.

Fire Extinguisher Servicing – Longer Term Requirements

As well as the annual fire extinguisher servicing detailed above and your regular inspections (See below), there are periodic tests that must be carried out to comply with the British Standards.

Fire extinguishers should be discharge tested and or have hydrostatic tests completed to make sure the cylinder is still safe to operate. The details of when this needs to happen are summarised below:

Water Fire Extinguishers

Every five years – Discharge Test & Refill

Dry Powder Fire Extinguishers

Every five years – Discharge Test & Refill

Carbon Dioxide Extinguishers

Every Ten years – Hydrostatic Testing / Refill

AFFF Foam Fire Extinguishers

Every Five Years – Discharge Test & Refill

In House (End User) Fire Extinguisher Service – Regular Checks And Inspections

NB: In addition to the above annual service works you must also set up your own system for regularly checking all your appliances. This does not need to be time consuming and is very much a simple checking system, but you must make sure it is done at regular intervals.

You can use the following as a guide for what to check when you do your regular inspections:

  • Check that the appliance is in its proper place, easily accessible and not obstructed by anything else (including not being used as a coat hanger or door stop!).
  • Check that the pressure is at the recommended level. Some fire extinguishers have a gauge and if so check that the needle is in the green area, showing that the pressure is correct. If the pressure is too low it may need to be recharged.
  • Check that the pull pin is properly in place (in the handle) and has not been pulled out or lost.
  • Check that any tamper seals are fully intact.
  • Check that the appliance has not been damaged, looking out for dents, cracks or signs of rust. Make sure it is clean and that all instructions can be easily read.
  • Some manufacturers of dry powder fire extinguishers recommend that the appliances are shaken every month to ensure the powder does not stick together or become compact.
  • Exactly how often you need to inspect every appliance will depend on the nature of your premises, but in general your checks should not be less than once a month
  • These inspections can be carried out quickly and easily, but are invaluable in making sure that your emergency equipment is going to be in good working order when you need it. The inspections are only of value if they are carried out properly and on a regular basis.
  • If you find that an extinguisher has been discharged or interfered with in any way, even just partially discharged, it should be replaced immediately.

Fire Extinguisher Installation

The installation procedures for new extinguishers are as follows:

  • Confirm location of new appliance with client / end user
  • Ensure area is safe for working and clear of debris. (Erect barriers if required to reduce hazards)
  • Check wall fixing for bracket
  • Ensure the fixing area is free from electrical cables / water pipes etc. before drilling
  • Drill require holes and fix bracket
  • Remove appliance from packaging and check that the appliance has not been damaged
  • Service the new appliance as detailed above and hang as required
  • Fix new ID label
  • Complete the service report for works completed together with any addition recommendations required.

 

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