In case of disaster, fire extinguishers are often the first line of defense against small fires. To ensure you keep everyone safe right away, having an operable extinguisher is critical in these situations. There is no time to wonder if equipment like this will work properly when you need immediate action. Just like any other important piece of equipment, an inspection of these is an important aspect to ensure the safety of everyone and everything. Proper inspection, testing, and maintenance regularly ensure that they are reliable options for diminishing small fires quickly and safely.

Because there are different types of extinguishers, they all require different inspections. But along with this, each fire extinguisher needs to be able to pass inspections such as placement, recordkeeping, and maintenance to ensure these are able to work the way they are supposed to when disaster strikes unexpectedly. Having proper extinguisher inspections can be life or death in fire situations.

Importance of Fire Extinguisher Inspections:

Inspections on fire extinguishers might seem useless because the chances of someone using them are slim, but this is the exact reason why they are so important because of the unexpected. The worst thing that could happen is to have a fire and use a faulty fire extinguisher, which can cause a huge safety issue for everyone involved.

Fire extinguishers can become damaged over time without you noticing. From old equipment to broken pieces, inspections are important to ensure these aren’t issues moving forward in times of need.

One of the most important reasons for these inspections is to make sure these fire extinguishers are placed in locations where they are strategically supposed to be. Many people in your place of work most likely don’t know where the nearest fire extinguisher is and that can be a major problem in certain situations. Inspectors give you the opportunity to gain knowledge of this aspect and show you where you can quickly find one in case of an emergency.

Inspectors will ensure these fire extinguishers are placed in their proper bracket so there is no chance of it falling off the wall and damaging the extinguisher.

Step by Step Process:

Step 1: Inspect Surface of Fire Extinguisher

Before you go any further into the inspection, your first step is to make sure all parts of the extinguisher are clearly visible and intact properly. The handle, hose, nozzle, security pin tag, and inspection tag are all parts that should be included in this initial inspection. Without all of these parts working properly, the fire extinguisher becomes useless during serious situations that can occur.

Step 2: Checking Tags

Every fire extinguisher should have an inspection and/or maintenance tags attached to the extinguisher itself. This inspection process is important to ensure your extinguisher has been properly inspected the current month and to see if it has already been inspected recently. These tags are important so you can have a record of important information regarding your extinguisher. The serial/model number, expiration date, and the status of the extinguisher are all important aspects of information that should be provided on the tags to ensure you are compliant with NFPA policies.

Step 3: Checking the Gauge

The gauge of your fire extinguisher should always be pointing in the green area. To remember it quickly, green means “Go” as in ready to go and use. When the needle is in the green, this means the extinguisher is fully “charged” and ready to work properly in case of an emergency. If the needle is pointing in any of the red areas, this means your extinguisher needs to be filled or replaced entirely immediately. Do not ever try and use a fire extinguisher if it is in the red. This equipment will not work properly and can become a huge safety issue in the area you are trying to use it.

Step 4: Inspecting the Pin

A safety pin is in place on every fire extinguisher to ensure there is no accidental discharge when the inspection is taking place. Depending on your make and model, some extinguishers have a plastic security tag to keep the pin from any chance of falling out accidentally. If these pins aren’t present and discharge happens, it can cause the entire space to be filled in a white cloud in seconds. This can cause a huge safety issue for everyone around, so the safety pin is a crucial step in the inspection process for fire extinguishers to make sure this is always a safe piece of equipment.

Step 5: Is the Extinguisher Full?

This is one of the most important steps because without this one, the previous steps don’t matter. Make sure the extinguisher is full by picking it up to feel the weight of the inside agent. If you do this correctly, you should be able to feel the agent moving from side to side. If you can’t feel it moving during this process, this is an indication that the extinguisher is empty or out of date. This is an easy step to immediately know if your equipment needs replaced or just recharged to work properly.

Step 6: Dents and Damage

To coincide with step one, this step takes a deeper look by inspecting the extinguisher itself on the surface. Dents, punctures, corrosion, or any noticeable physical damage can become a huge problem when you go to use your extinguisher. The littlest dent or sign of corrosion can cause it to be a faulty fire extinguisher in times of need.

Over time, just like a worn-out tire, fire extinguishers can develop leaks slowly that are not noticeable. These leaks release gas and cause this equipment to have depressurization occur. Although the leak of gas isn’t harmful to those around, this type of slow leak can cause the fire extinguisher to be inoperable. For certain fires such as fires in the kitchen that can’t be put out with water, an extinguisher that has depressurization will make this unavailable to use and put everyone at risk.

Step 7: Check Extinguisher Hose

Without a proper working hose, the fire extinguisher will do nothing to a fire Kinks, cracks, cylinder security, and breaks can all be causes of a faulty hose and the agent from the extinguisher to not work its way up the hose. When inspecting the hose, look inside to see if there are any clogs or obstructions that could cause issues when using the extinguisher. If the hose has noticeable problems as stated, you will need to have the hose replaced, or in extreme cases, the entire fire extinguisher.

Step 8: Instructions Sticker and Documentation

The fire extinguisher instructions should be always clear and legible on the surface. If these instructions are ripped or have missing information, it will be time to replace the extinguisher. Don’t ever try to create your own instructions, as this can become a big code violation and safety issue for those who may use this piece of equipment.

Once the inspection is thoroughly completed, be sure to always document your inspection on the tag provided. This will help for future inspections to know the date of the most recent and if everything is up to date as it should be.

Safety Aspect of Inspections:

Safety is always the main concern when it comes to dealing with equipment such as fire extinguishers. Testing the operational capacity and maintenance of your extinguishers is an essential part of the safety program that should be provided for everyone in your place of business.

Because most fires in commercial properties can be extinguished quickly, it is important that every safety aspect is put in place. One single defective fire extinguisher can put the infrastructure, equipment, and employees all at risk of significant loss. Because of the unexpected when it comes to fires, it is important to have employees and inspectors themselves be knowledgeable in all aspects of fire extinguishers.

Teams involved should be aware of each fire extinguisher location for quick access in case of emergency. The last thing you want to happen is searching and wondering where the nearest extinguisher is when time is valuable. This type of training also involves how to properly use this piece of equipment efficiently and effectively when disaster strikes.

Inspectors should always be thorough in their inspections and take this process seriously. One mistake can put everyone and everything at risk. The main objective is to be aware of most regular problems and know how to solve them quickly to ensure all fire extinguishers present are ready to handle fires that are unexpected.

Hydrostatic Testing Procedures:

Hydrostatic testing is completed on rechargeable fire extinguisher tanks to evaluate the cylinder’s ability to hold pressure. Hydrostatic testing checks for leaks and overall strength and is completed for the safety and effectiveness of a pressurized fire extinguisher. This type of testing is required for any rechargeable fire extinguisher. Every 5 years testing should be done for carbon dioxide, wet chemicals, and water extinguishers. For dry chemical extinguishers, this process should be done every 12 years.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How often should fire extinguishers be inspected?

Fire extinguishers should be inspected once a month after the initial installation inspection. These inspections should be done monthly by the owner and annually by a licensed company, such as A Total Solutions.

In Florida, the federal government mandates that you pay close attention to your fire extinguishers, but also your insurance company as well. Not paying attention to your extinguishers could affect your coverage in the event of an emergency that may occur.

How do you know when your fire extinguisher is expired?

The first thing is to check the service label to see if it has been serviced recently in a timely manner that it is supposed to be. It can be difficult to know when exactly your fire extinguisher has been installed, but you are able to see the manufacturing date stamped on the body or service label. Because at times fire extinguishers are forgotten about, especially in older buildings, they might not meet the current standards. If parts are no longer available or can no longer be serviced according to the manufacturer’s specifications. This can all be indications that your fire extinguisher is “expired” and time to find a replacement.

Is it worth recharging fire extinguishers?

Fire extinguishers need to be recharged after every use. To make sure there is enough pressure and liquid to extinguish a fire, these need to be recharged even if they are empty. This type of equipment should periodically be recharged throughout the time they are available. Technicians that are certified or a fire protection company should be the only ones to perform this recharging action for your equipment. This ensures that this process is done correctly and safely. Having a professional conduct this recharging process makes sure you meet OSHA requirements, state codes, and insurance company specifications as well.

A qualified fire protection service has the expertise with all recharging aspects that include:

  • Carbon dioxide
  • Water
  • Foam
  • ABC chemical
  • Clean agent

At the first sign of any damage, these fire extinguishers should be immediately recharged so deterioration and other factors do not become present to cause major problems.

How to make fire extinguishers easily accessible?

The only way that fire extinguishers can do any good is when they are readily and easily accessible. To avoid putting employees and building occupants in any danger, your fire extinguishers should be located and visible throughout the workplace or building so that they can be used at the most unexpected moments. They are typically installed in places such as meeting rooms, hallways, kitchens, electrical rooms, and near exit doors. Fire extinguishers should be selected and positioned based on the potential size and types of fire that may occur in your distinct building.

Is extinguisher training required by OSHA?

Employees who could be in situations to use fire extinguishers should be provided with training and knowledge of this equipment. This is an important aspect to ensure that in case of an emergency in any situation, there will be someone who knows exactly what to do to put out the small fire. Although it is not mandatory to have training on this, it is highly recommended to make sure that everyone is safe in case of the unexpected.

Unlike other fire protection companies, ATS does not recommend swapping out your extinguisher for another one because it requires maintenance or repair. Instead, we will provide you with a loaned extinguisher for the duration of time that it takes to get your own extinguisher back in proper working order. This saves our clients the cost of having to buy a new one and allows us to have the time to fully service your existing extinguisher.

 

At A Total Solution, Inc., our clients are assured that their fire extinguisher needs and wants are taken care of at all times. We have extensive experience in installing, repairing, maintaining, and inspecting fire extinguishers in accordance with the most recent National Fire Protection Association codes. To keep you in compliance at all times, your contract includes enrollment in our service dispatch software. This unique system will keep a record of when your inspections and services are due, and we will proactively contact you before any due dates. Contact the fire protection experts at A Total Solution, Inc. today!