Fire Extinguisher Maintenance 101

fire extinguisher maintenance

Having a sufficient number of the right type of fire extinguishers present at your facility is important. Yet, without proper maintenance, these units may not provide the protection you need. Why? Your extinguishers must be kept in working order, otherwise they may fail to function at full capacity (or at all) when called upon to subdue a fire. In addition, not performing the required maintenance can lead to costly code violations.

Therefore, it is important to learn the basics of fire extinguisher maintenance and what is required to ensure that they are at peak readiness at all times. Check out the fire extinguisher maintenance steps below.

Monthly Inspections

The NFPA requires that all fire extinguishers be inspected at least once per calender month. During this inspection, the following questioned will be answered:

  • Are the units in proper locations?
  • Are the units in clear view and properly accessible?
  • Are the units in clean condition?
  • By the naked eye do the units appear to be operable?
  • Have the monthly inspection tags been properly signed?

Koorsen personnel also complete the following rigorous 12 point inspection on every unit:

  1. Visually inspect extinguisher.
  2. Check the test and maintenance dates.
  3. Weigh extinguisher. (CO2)
  4. Visually inspect pressure gauge (when applicable).
  5. Remove safety pull pin.
  6. Install new tamper seal (some units may require additional inspection procedures).
  7. Remove discharge hose and inspect valve assembly.
  8. Check CO2 hoses for continuity (when applicable).
  9. Clean extinguisher.
  10. Attach a new certification tag.
  11. Complete Fire and Safety Report.
  12. Ensure customer understands completed work.

Annual Maintenance

The NFPA requires that maintenance on all portable fire extinguishers present at your facility be completed on an annual basis. This is the minimum requirement, and if your monthly inspections reveal any problems, then maintenance may need to be performed even more often.

This maintenance includes an annual external examination of all extinguishers, and according to NFPA 10 7.3.2, its purpose is to:

  • catch signs of physical damage or any corrosion that may be present
  • determine if the nozzle has become blocked
  • ensure that the operating instructions are still on the unit, facing forward and able to be clearly read
  • check that the HMIS is present
  • fix any issues which are discovered

Finally, tamper seals must be installed after your annual maintenance is complete.

5-Year Hydrostatic Test

The hydrostatic test is required every five years for carbon dioxide, water-based extinguishers and some other types.

6-Year Maintenance

  • 6 year maintenance is required for all extinguishers which are subject to the 12 year hydrostatic test. This includes most stored-pressure extinguishers which can be recharged.
  • If the extinguisher passes the six year inspection, a label needs to be affixed to the unit stating that the extinguisher has been inspected.

The tag lists the person who completed the inspection and their affiliated agency, so the inspection must be completed by a qualified organization, such as Koorsen Fire & Security.

12-Year Hydrostatic Test

  • The 12-year hydrostatic test is required on most stored-pressure units and all cartridge-operated extinguishers.

 

Partner With Experience

If all of the above inspections and tests are completed with satisfactory results, you will be in full compliance with all of the fire codes and regulations governing extinguisher maintenance. You will also have peace of mind, knowing that your extinguishers are working properly, should the need for them arise.

However, keep in mind that there are maintenance procedures which are specific to specialized types of units – which is why working with a certified company is critical. Koorsen is always up to date on the latest requirements, and our knowledgeable and experienced staff can handle any type of extinguisher maintenance.

To partner with a leader in the fire extinguisher field, please visit https://www.koorsen.com/contact or call 1-888-KOORSEN today.

 

10 Comments

I have several fire extinguishers like this in my home, and I just realized that I have no idea how to maintain them. When I came to this realization, I was overcome with an image of my daughter trying to use the extinguisher like I have always taught her, but it won’t work. Naturally I wanted to do a little research to prevent this from ever becoming a reality. I didn’t realize that these types of things should be inspected so frequently, I will definitely make this a new habit. Thank you!

It would be really good for my office to get back into the routine of having our fire extinguishers checked often and get maintenance done on them. I think we do the inspections according to regulation, but I am not sure if we do maintenance as often as we should. We should probably do all the things on your list here, from checking that the nozzle isn’t blocked to being sure that the HMIS is present. Thanks for the great post!

Thank you for the great feedback, Colin. We are happy you found this post helpful. Let us know if we can be of any assistance with your extinguisher service. We are here to help if you need us.

I think that most of us have seen the small tags that are attached to most if not all fire extinguishers. This is the inspection tag which a certified inspector will come by and visibly check that the extinguisher is in proper working order. They will also see if it is the correct location. No sense in having it behind a cabinet. Make sure that they are in the open and easily accessible in the event of a fire.

I like how you said, ” Your extinguishers must be kept in working order, otherwise they may fail to function at full capacity (or at all) when called upon to subdue a fire”. It is great to have safety equipment available, but it needs to work. I think that performing inspections every month helps with up keeping the extinguishers.

Thanks for the advice on maintaining a fire extinguisher! I’m embarrassed to admit that I thought that all I had to do was buy an extinguisher and that was it. It sounds like it’s important to do inspections and tests of it. Can it be refilled if I end up using it?

This was really intriguing to read. I hadn’t been aware of all proper ways to maintain fire extinguishers. I’ve been thinking about getting one for my home. This has given me an idea of how to take proper care of it. What are some proper locations for fire extinguishers?

With the new and used fire extinguisher that I bought several months ago, it seems like it would be time to do an inspection on it. What would be the reason as to why an inspection would be needed for it? It has me wondering just how long ago my brother has been using the thing for and when was the last time he inspected it.

Zequek – fire extinguishers should be placed on every level of your home, including basements, attics and garages.

Andrew – inspections should be completed on fire extinguishers annually.

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