How and when should my fire extinguisher be tested?

But during the times of need, when your life or that of your loved ones is at stake due to fire hazards, the best thing is to find working fire extinguishers nearby.
Therefore, it is important to have regular inspections and regular maintenance of fire extinguishers. It, however, leads to a crucial question, i.e., how often should your fire extinguishers be inspected? The following article will carry an in-depth discussion on the matter.
Determining the time duration of fire extinguishers is not as easy as one might imagine. There are various kinds of fire extinguishers containing different types of material. Depending upon the materials, every type of fire extinguisher has its maintenance requirements and inspection durations are adjusted accordingly. Many fire extinguishers nowadays are given fire extinguisher service tags which make it easier to plan and perform maintenance operations in the future.
Typically, there are three types of inspections; as follows:
Monthly inspections of fire extinguishers should include the following:
  • First and foremost, make sure the fire extinguishers are placed in the most accessible places.
  • Make sure all employees know where the fire extinguishers are placed.
  • Make sure the fire extinguishers do not obstruct any appliance or furniture.
  • Visual inspection of fire extinguishers should be carried out to find any physical damage to the body. See if the tamper is sealed, the nozzle unclogged and the pin intact, all is good.
  • Check the pressure of the fire extinguisher. Note that the pressure dial is in the green (safe) zone. After this, lift the fire extinguisher to see if it feels full.
  • Make sure all labels and tags are readable. Check the last date of professional inspection. Schedule a professional inspection if it was done more than a year ago.
  • Document the inspection to keep in track of monthly checks.
A yearly inspection is a more technical and comprehensive inspection and should be carried out by a professional once a year. An annual inspection includes all the steps carried out in the monthly inspection along with the following:
  • Confirm that the fire extinguishers are placed on each floor of the building.
  • The fire extinguishers should be placed at every 75 feet.
  • The fire extinguishers should be kept 30 feet away from the kitchen.
  • Check if any variation has occurred that might hinder the fire extinguishing operation.
  • Tag and date the inspection. It helps to keep a record of all the professional fire extinguisher inspections.
Every six years
Some fire extinguishers are rechargeable and require a more thorough inspection every six years. It is done by performing a hydrostatic test which involves the following operations:
  • First, empty the fire extinguisher.
  • Place the fire extinguisher under water.
  • Put pressure on the fire extinguisher (Note: The pressure subjected to the fire extinguisher should exceed its ratings).
Fire extinguisher cylinders that fail to withhold the pressure should be disposed of. Whereas, those that pass the test should be reassembled then recharged and placed back into their respective positions.
Fire extinguisher service tags should be used to document all inspections so that regular maintenance can be carried out. It is essential because no one wants a damaged fire extinguisher in times of need. Make sure you perform all the necessary inspections regularly and hire professionals where need be.

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