The best rule of thumb is to replace all fire extinguishers every 12 months (regardless of condition) In addition to replacing them every 12 months, a regular monthly check of both the integrity of the equipment and its pressure is also strongly advisable.
Fire safety is one of the most important processes a business can undertake, a functional fire extinguisher could well be the difference between the catastrophic loss of life or extensive property damage.
In this article, we will provide you with some hints on tips on when to replace a fire extinguisher.
How long can a fire extinguisher last?
Although we recommend changing a fire extinguisher once every 12 months, the actual length of life for a fire extinguisher depends on the brand and size. The average amount of time a fire extinguisher is built to last is 10 – 12 years.
How should you maintain a fire extinguisher?
Fire extinguisher maintenance is extremely important. In the event of a fire, nothing could be worse than discovering your extinguishers are not fit for purpose. In order to properly maintain a fire extinguisher, we recommend utilising the services of a registered fire-stopping specialist.
If for any reason you don’t wish to commission a specialist then there are things you can do yourself to improve the chances of equipment continuity. You can inspect the equipment for signs of damage or misuse and check the pressure regularly.
How to check the pressure on a fire extinguisher
Most fire extinguishers, certainly those produced in the last 10 years will feature a pressure gauge. Often the pressure gauge is located at the top of the canister just below the trigger mechanism.
You can check the gauge relatively easily, it will often be segmented into green and red, if the needle is in the green then the pressure of the canister is as it should be. If the needle for any reason enters the red parameter then the pressure is not sufficient and the fire extinguisher needs to be replaced immediately.
What does the law state on testing fire extinguishers?
According to the fire safety website, Risk Manager the law as it stands is
“Every fire extinguisher shall be tested by discharge every 3 years from the date of commissioning or 4 years from the date of manufacture of the extinguisher, whichever comes first, and subsequently every 3 years from the last date of discharge.”
So to put this in the most simple form, you need to ensure each and every fire extinguisher on your premises is getting tested at least once in a 3-year period!
“One-third of all fire extinguishers shall be test discharged each year so that at the end of the 3rd year, 100% of the extinguishers will have been tested by discharged.”
These laws apply to commercial premises and if you are the business owner you need to make sure that 33% of the fire extinguishers on your premises are being tested annually.
For example, If you have 60 fire extinguishers on site, then 20 of them need to be discharge tested each year.
Unfortunately, this test by law must be conducted by a registered professional. If you attempt to test them yourself the test will not be validated and in the event of a fire, you could face criminal charges.
How to Dispose of Your Fire Extinguisher
If your fire extinguisher has failed the pressure test or you’re replacing them entirely, then it’s important to dispose of a fire extinguisher in the correct way. Fire extinguishers are classified as Hazardous waste and therefore can not just be thrown away with the rest of your refuse.
The best way to dispose of a fire extinguisher is to take it to a recycling facility, alternatively, you can contact your local authority to remove it. If you opt to contact the local authority, then they may ask for safety measures to be taken – such as duck-taping the handles together, there may also be a charge.
When to Replace a Rechargeable Fire Extinguisher
Although we have specified that fire extinguishers should be replaced every 12 months as a minimum, there are circumstances in which your extinguishers should be replaced immediately. If you notice any of the following issues, then immediately dispose of the fire extinguisher and replace it with a new one.
The things to look out for are:
- Pressure is reducing
- Any damage to the hose or nozzle
- The handle is broken or wobbly
- Locking pin damage (snapped, corroded etc, etc.)
- Any damage to the outer shell
- Absence of an inspection tag
- Hydollic test fails or does not perform as expected.
How do you know when to replace a fire extinguisher?
Replacing fire extinguishers is an important part of a fire safety plan, although the law states that fire extinguishers should be tested every 3 years, most fire safety experts agree, they should be replaced every 12 months. Even if the fire extinguisher has not reached the 12-month mark but shows signs of any damage, or the inspection tag is lost, it should be replaced immediately.
How many years is a fire extinguisher good for?
A fire extinguisher’s shelf life depends on the manufacturer. Different brands boast different viable time periods. But as mentioned above, the optimum time to replace a fire extinguisher is every 12 months.
Fire extinguishers Testers Ireland
Firestoppers is Ireland’s leading authority on passive and active fire measures. If you are unsure of how well-protected your business is in the event of a fire, then our experienced team can help.
For all your active and passive fire safety needs, keep Firestoppers at the front of your mind. For a full no obligation quote, then contact us today.