Fire extinguishers are a vital piece of fire safety equipment when it comes to protecting your staff and your premises. However, since they can often sit untouched for long periods, it’s important that you also maintain the equipment you provide.
Maintenance and inspection of your fire extinguishers will ensure that, should they be needed in an emergency, they’re ready and in full working order. Not only does this help you meet your legal obligations set out in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, but it also ensures the extinguishers are adhering to the British Standard.
But how often should you be inspecting extinguishers, and what’s involved? This month, we’re going to break some of these points down and let you know what to do if your extinguisher fails an inspection or has come to the end of its useful life.
Fire extinguisher inspection frequency
There are two parts to keeping your fire extinguishers in proper working order, which we’ll define in more detail in the next section. Ideally, your visual inspections should be carried out monthly, with an annual inspection for maintenance and servicing.
That means that over a 12-month period, you need at least one qualified inspection from outside of your organisation, and 12 visual checks internally at a minimum.
Now let’s break that down into what the two types involve.
Types of fire extinguisher inspection
As we’ve established, there are two types of inspection that need to be carried out. The fire warden or marshal in your organisation should carry out the monthly inspections visually, while BS 5306-3 and most manufacturers of extinguishers recommend an annual service from a professional engineer. Here’s what the two involve:
Monthly visual inspections, carried out and recorded by your fire warden/marshal, involve checking:
- for any cracks, rips or blockages in the hose or nozzle
- for broken handles
- for signs of leakage or corrosion
- labels are in place and intact (meaning they can be read easily)
- seals, locking pins and tamper indicators are in place
- the pressure gauge – where applicable – is still within the green portion of the dial
- the unit is still full (you can test this by lifting it)
- the extinguishers are readily accessible and not blocked off
Your annual inspection from a qualified and competent engineer involves different stages, depending on the type and age of the extinguisher. You can expect some of the following to be carried out in addition to all the above visual inspection elements:
- checking and changing the head cap seal
- testing of the pressure gauge
- testing and checks for the safety pin
- filling out the maintenance label
- checking on the position and fitting
These inspections and maintenance appointments should be logged as part of your legal records.
It should be fairly obvious that if a fire extinguisher fails the annual inspection, it will need to be repaired – where possible – or replaced if it is beyond repair. This will ensure you have fully functional equipment at all times. There is no specific lifespan to an extinguisher, as long as it continues to pass annual inspections; however, most extinguishers should be considered for replacement at around the five-year mark.
Failed units, whether because they cannot be repaired or because the parts for that model are no longer available, should be removed by a professional fire safety company to be disposed of properly and legally.
Here at TVF (UK) Limited, we provide a full range of fire extinguishers to meet the needs of any building or business, plus, we also provide fire extinguisher maintenance to help you keep your units in proper working order for when they’re needed at a moment’s notice. As fire safety experts for High Wycombe, Slough, Watford and the surrounding areas, you need to look no further when you need help with either selecting the right units or having your current fire extinguisher range maintained.
Call today for a quick quote or for more help and advice when it comes to fire extinguishers for your premises.