Fire extinguishers are a crucial equipment in any establishment. They are the first line of defense against small fires, which could lead to a more severe injury or damage. They actually put out more small fires than the fire department in different types of establishment.
As such, conducting a regular fire extinguisher inspection is important to keep the fire extinguishers in excellent shape. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire extinguishers should be checked once a month even before they even reach their expiration.
To have a fully functional fire extinguisher, here is a reliable inspection checklist from NFPA you can reference:
- Ensure that the fire extinguisher is in a visible, unobstructed, and easily accessible spot. If you have multiple ones within your premises, check that each one is in its proper place.
- Check the tamper and safety seals for any breakage and that the locking pin is intact.
- Check that the usage instructions are legible, and complete without any missing parts.
- Check the pressure gauge and make sure that the needle shows the right pressure. If the extinguisher has a test indicator and that the pressure reading is within the safety range.
- Check for signs of damage like leakage, clogged or jammed nozzle, or corrosion. These signs may mean that it’s time to get a new extinguisher.
- Record your fire extinguisher inspection, and keep track of its monthly maintenance. An inspection tag that usually comes with the device is used for this purpose.
- A certified contractor must check your device once a year.
Inspection VS Maintenance
An inspection is a quick check to give assurance that a fire extinguisher is available and functional. The worth of an inspection lies in the comprehensiveness and the frequency with which it is done. The frequency may mean hourly or monthly, based on the demands of the circumstances. A fire extinguisher inspection should be conducted when the device is first set up in place and at about 30-day intervals.
A maintenance, on the other hand, should be conducted at least once a year regularly, or when mainly dictated by an inspection. While an inspection is a speedy check, maintenance is more of a complete and thorough check. It is done to give optimum assurance that the device will function safely and efficiently. It involves an exhaustive examination of the unit and any necessary recharging, repair, or even replacement. A maintenance check will reveal if the extinguisher needs a hydrostatic testing, which is when pressure vessels are tested for leaks.
Types of Damage
If your extinguisher is broken or damaged, its capability to put out small fires could be compromised. The types of damage on fire extinguishers to watch out for include:
- Broken or frayed hose
- Excessive dirt
- Dents, gouges, or scratches on the cylinder
- Clogged wand and nozzle
- Damaged or cracked horn for CO2 extinguishers
Fire extinguishers are pressurized containers. Thus, damage from being dropped or hit can affect the effectiveness of the device. Check the pressure gauge and the safety pin to ensure that the equipment is still usable.
Types of Extinguishers
There are different types of fire extinguishers. And each type is made to handle different kinds of fire. The five types are the following:
- Class A – Ordinary flammables such as paper, cloth, and wood
- Class B – Flammable liquids
- Class C – Electrical appliances
- Class D – Metals
- Class E – Cooking oils
Some fire extinguishers are made for more than one type of fire. As such, they may be labeled as Class ABC, CD, AB, for example.
Seek Professional Advice
They may look like unsuspecting devices, but fire extinguishers are more complicated than most people think. Thus, it’s important to seek a professional that can conduct a proper inspection and maintenance on these safety devices. Professionals can look for things that ordinary people may not be aware of.
Home and Building Safety
Often, fire extinguishers are a forgotten part of a home and building safety plan. Do your regular inspection, be familiar with how to properly use fire extinguishers, and reach out to your local fire department if you need more resources. It’s always good to know that your extinguishers are ready to use – when you need them.