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Is Your Fire Extinguisher Functional?

A first line of defense, fire extinguishers are a necessary feature of any home or commercial property. Because they are a vital component of fire defense, extinguishers must be kept in an always a ready state—accessible, well-serviced, and fully functional. These tips from our Santa Rosa fire safety experts at Firebrand will help ensure that your home is protected.

Why should you service your fire extinguisher?

According to the National Fire Protection Association, up to 30% of portable fire extinguishers are not in working order, meaning your extinguisher could fail you when you need it most. Several of the top causes for damage include:

a. Deterioration – Internal corrosion to aluminum or steel extinguishers can compromise the integrity of the extinguishers over time.

b. Hose blockage – Insects, debris, or soot can accumulate in an extinguisher hose over time. In addition, the O-rings on the hose can also fall apart with time.

c. Potential leaks – Slow leaks can lead to depletion and decreased pressure.

d. Wear to vital labels – Important labels containing vital information, such as maintenance instructions and servicing dates, can become illegible following prolonged exposure to the elements.

e. Recharging – After each use, even a partial use, an extinguisher needs to be recharged immediately in order to be used again.

How often should a fire extinguisher be serviced?

We recommend that you perform a general inspection of your fire extinguishers once a month just to make sure everything is in good working order and the extinguisher is where it should be. For these checks, you will need to check the following:

  • Is the extinguisher is accessible?

  • Is it in the correct location?

  • Are the labels clear and decipherable?

  • Are the seals unaltered?

  • Does the extinguisher show signs of obvious damage?

  • Does the gauge show sufficient pressure?

However, you should also have an official inspection performed by a professional approximately once a year. Check the tag on your extinguisher to see when the last inspection was performed.

Who can service a fire extinguisher?

While monthly inspections can be performed by someone other than an expert, it is always best to have annual inspections performed by licensed professionals.

Internal Maintenance Requirements

The National Fire Protection Association mandates internal maintenance at particular intervals for fire extinguishers. Both carbon dioxide and wet chemical extinguishers will have to be hydrotested every five years. On the other hand, if you have a dry chemical extinguisher, it needs to be hydrotested only once every 12 years.

What does a professional inspection entail?

A trained fire extinguisher technician will determine if the extinguisher is properly hung with the correct manufacturer’s hanger. They will check that the pressure is high and that the gauge is compatible with the extinguisher. They will also check the manufacturer date, last hydrotest, maintenance date, and much more. In the end, they will provide a comprehensive report of the inspection, including an explanation of any problems and recommendations for corrective action in accord with standardized care and maintenance codes.

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