A Guide to Fire Extinguisher Maintenance

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Fire Extinguisher Maintenance - In accordance with BS 5306: Part 3: 2003)

Why carry out periodic inspection and testing?

Fire extinguishers are invaluable when tackling the early stages of fire. Used effectively, they can reduce the risk to life and avoid serious damage to buildings and their contents.

But portable fire extinguishers must be properly maintained if they are to be ready for action at all times. A corroded or damaged extinguisher may mean a minor incident rapidly turning into a serious and life threatening situation.

Recommendations

Maintenance by Global recommend that a suitably qualified engineer be sent, at least annually, to carry out full inspection and testing. The exact inspection and maintenance procedures will vary depending on the different type of extinguisher examined, however the following tests should be carried out:

  • Check the extinguisher both internally and externally for corrosion or damage.
  • Examine the contents of the extinguisher and ensure that the extinguisher is filled to the correct level with the correct substance.
  • Weigh the gas cartridge and check the mass against that marked on the cartridge.
  • Examine the vent holes, nozzle, strainer, internal discharge tube, (where fitted), and clean if necessary.
  • Check the operating mechanism and discharge valve , for free movement, if necessary clean, rectify or replace.
  • Replace the safety clip to prevent inadvertent operation and/or fit a new wire seal.

We recommend that after inspection all labelling is carried out as follows:

  • All extinguishers which are damaged, corroded or otherwise defective to a hazardous extent should be clearly marked; Unsafe for Use, Condemned or Unfit for Service.
  • All extinguishers which are suitable for continued service should be clearly marked; Inspected.

We also recommend that the User is informed in writing of all extinguishers which do not comply with the regulations, so that any faults can be rectified or units replaced.

We recommend that all extinguishers be test discharged every five years, as part of the annual inspection and test, in order to ensure that they are still operating satisfactorily. Engineers can carry out this procedure on site in order to provide personnel with training in the use of extinguishers.

Maintenance by Global also recommend that monthly inspections are carried out by the User, to examine all extinguishers, spare gas cartridges and replacement charges, in order to check that appliances are in the correct location, have not been discharged, lost pressure or suffered damage; so that any faults found can be corrected immediately.

Maintenance by Global’s recommendations are based on the code of practice set out in BS5306: Part 3: 2003, (see regulations below); for the correct maintenance of fire extinguishers to increase the protection to buildings and their contents.

Regulations

The User should ensure that all extinguishers, gas cartridges and replacements are inspected, serviced and maintained, by a person with the necessary training and experience, using the recommended tools and materials, at least annually. (8.1.1-8.1.2)

Regular inspection of all extinguishers, spare gas cartridges and replacement charges should be carried out by the User, at least monthly. (7.1)

All extinguishers not available for use should be replaced by serviceable ones. (7.1)

Extinguishers should be recharged immediately after use. (11.1)

Any extinguisher, gas cartridge, replacement charge or part thereof, which is found to be damaged, corroded, defective or has lost its contents to an extent which makes it hazardous or unsuitable for further service, should be prominently marked in accordance with regulations 8.1.2 - 8.1.4.

After inspection any extinguisher which is suitable for continued service should have a durable label firmly fixed to it, with the correct inspection details recorded on it. (8.1.7)

Inspection of siting, class/rating and mounting should also be carried out, along with conformity of manufacture to BS5427; and the User informed of any nonconformity of regulations. (8.1.8)

A whole series of Guides to... are available on request, covering all aspects of our building services and outlining the recommendations for testing and maintenance according to industry-approved codes of practice. For copies or a free, no-obligation quotation, contact us