Fire Extinguishers

Fire Extinguishers

Yes! We all know how annoying it is when something doesn’t work as it should do, but in a fire situation, it is imperative that every piece of fire prevention equipment works first time, every time. Regular fire extinguisher maintenance is vital for ensuring your business fire extinguishers are ready for action if required.

Your Business and the Law

Current fire regulations under the Regulatory Reform Order 2005 (Fire Safety) state that all fire safety equipment must be “maintained in efficient working order and in good repair.” Fire extinguisher maintenance includes checking for exhausted extinguishers that may not have been reported as used, checking that anti-tamper tags are in place, and that the fire extinguishers themselves are physically in good condition and ready for use – you’d be amazed how many safety pins get bent and stuck in place without being spotted! or reported.

The British Standard 5306 part 3 requires that maintenance of all your fire extinguishers is conducted by a ‘competent person’. If you do not have such a fully-trained service engineer in-house, you should set up a maintenance contract with an approved maintenance contractor.

What Does Effective Fire Extinguisher Maintenance Involve?

The effective maintenance of fire extinguishers includes many separate checks on gauges, moving parts, tubes, valves, and operating mechanisms, amongst others. The fire extinguishers also need to be thoroughly checked for signs of corrosion.

Fire extinguisher maintenance tests must be carried out annually, and an extended service carried out every five years for most types of fire extinguishers. This includes a full discharge test, where the extinguisher is operated under test conditions, its performance recorded, any faulty or worn parts replaced, the extinguisher refilled and returned to service.

What If My Fire Extinguishers Are 'Unfit For Service' (UFS)?

Fire extinguishers do have a limited life span, due to the corrosive and pressurized contents. Seals can fail and welds corrode, and although regular fire extinguisher maintenance can spot these problems early, there may come a time when your fire extinguisher will need to be completely removed from service.

A fire extinguisher replacement programme should ensure that none of your fire extinguishers reach this state, but if they do, any UFS extinguishers should be replaced with new ones, most extinguishers would expect to last for 5/10 years depending on the type of extinguisher but some are of lower quality and there is nothing more frustrating than having to replace an item one year after a costly service visit. Always get an on-the-spot price before approving extended service and then compare the new prices before deciding.