Are You On Task With The Fire Extinguisher Maintenance Routine? : Blog
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Are You On Task With The Fire Extinguisher Maintenance Routine?

by Norman Holden on 09/29/14

Fire safety and fighting equipments should be well maintained to ensure that they are properly functioning when needed.  In this regard, smoke detectors, sprinkler systems and alarms on emergency exists all need to be checked on a regular basis and all damaged parts as well as batteries changed or replaced if need be. Fire extinguishers should be expertly tested at recommended intervals and discarded or replaced at the end of their life spans. It is also important to ensure these devices are never obstructed in a building.

Fire extinguishers are necessary safety equipments during fire emergencies. So they need to be monthly or annually inspected and maintained by expert fire safety service providers to ensure that they are ready for immediate use when needed. It is a good idea to start an in-house maintenance and inspection routine for all fire safety equipments in a building. To make sure that the inspection is properly done, a qualified individual need to be hired.

What happens if fire safety equipments are not properly maintained?

If fire safety devices are not properly inspected or regularly maintained, part or full failure might occur when they urgently needed, something that may result in severe injuries or even death. There is unfortunately no universal fire equipments inspection or maintenance code in most countries. Most places however require that fire safety equipments such as fire extinguishers be inspected on a monthly basis to guarantee that they are not obstructed and that proper pressure is present.

Full inspections conducted yearly are also required; however, these should only be carried out by qualified fire safety inspectors. For CO2 and water based models, a hydrostatic pressure test need to be done after every five years. For dry chemical models, the test should be done every twelve years.

Why opt for electronic fire safety monitoring?

A few years ago, the National Fire Protection Association in the U.S. voted to get rid of monthly inspections in favor of electronic monitoring. From the association’s view, this system keeps a constant electronic log at its computer systems. This mode of monitoring however requires constant attention and supervision. It monitors or checks for the same things that the monthly test looks into. If and when problems are found, the system instantly notifies officials who then quickly remedy the occurrence. The monitoring is available in both wireless and wired modes.

Internal maintenance

Here are the United States’ fire safety equipment maintenance standards. For internal maintenance, extinguisher types such as listed below are monitored following these timetables.

  • Water based: Annually
  • Foam based: Every three years
  • CO2/Wet Chemical based: Every five years
  • Clean Agents/ Halon/ Dry Powder: Every six years
During the inspections, the extinguisher is purged of all chemicals to check for accuracy. After passing all the tests, the device is then replenished and placed strategically for use once again.

Full maintenance inspection

This inspection should be done in a yearly basis. All types of fire extinguishers save for the water based varieties must be annually recharged. The devices must be checked on a regular basis to make sure the pressure is normal and that the extinguishing agent is at its recommended volume. The device must be weighed by the technician during the inspection. Furthermore, the device must also fall within the set hydrotest guidelines and meet the internal maintenance criteria. Proper functionality test in all parts is also done during the inspection.  

Why is fire extinguisher inspection and maintenance important?

Fire extinguishers are important in that the devices are the first line of defense against fire catastrophes. A properly functioning and thus well maintained extinguisher can save the day in most cases. Without its proper working, you and everyone else in a building could be in serious trouble. It is therefore crucial to ensure that this very important fire safety equipment is well inspected, maintained and working right at all times throughout the year. Remember with fires, you can never be too careful!

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