Fire Extinguisher Maintenance

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It’s great that you have invested in a portable fire extinguisher to help protect your staff and premises.

But like a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector, there is no point in having valuable and effective firefighting equipment on the premises if it’s not in good working order. And the only way you can tell your extinguisher is functioning as it should is by having a regular maintenance check carried out. Doing so means you are fully compliant in the fire industry with respect to extinguishers.

Engineers should be BS 5306 qualified

It’s important too that the maintenance is carried out by a qualified and certified fire inspection engineer. In other words, an individual who is aware of up-to-date fire equipment standards and fire training techniques. He or she should also be able to demonstrate that they are BS 5306 qualified. This is the British Standard for fire extinguishing installations and equipment on premises.

An inspection by a BS 5306 qualified engineer means you are covered not just for the fire extinguisher’s maintenance, but also to ensure that it is the correct extinguisher for your purpose and that it is positioned in the correct place. And lastly, it ensures the extinguisher is recharged properly.

@bafefire: “It is the duty of the responsible person to ensure that extinguishers are maintained regularly by a competent person. Portable fire extinguishers are regarded as “life safety equipment” and a planned system of maintenance is intended to ensure that the equipment is:

  • in an efficient working state (safe);
  • in working order (reliable);
  • in good repair (efficient);
  • suitable for the hazard (fit for purpose).”

What’s involved in a maintenance check?

What this means is that the fire safety engineer will undertake a range of checks. These include taking a pressure gauge reading and ensuring there are no blockages in the hose or corrosion on the portable fire extinguisher itself. The wall mountings will also be checked to ensure they will continue to hold the extinguisher until the next inspection.

Frequency of extinguisher maintenance checks

How often your portable fire extinguisher requires maintenance checking by an engineer depends on the type of equipment you have. This is in accordance with the Fire Safety Act 2021.

For instance, there are four main types of extinguisher you can buy: water, foam, powder, and CO2. But how it’s serviced depends on how it's operated i.e. whether it is via stored pressure, or cartridge operated (actually there are very few of the latter type around these days.

Annual basic maintenance test. Ideally your portable fire extinguishers should undergo maintenance by a qualified fire safety engineer at least once a year. If, however, the extinguisher is damaged between maintenance inspections then it should be tested right away. This is also the case should you notice a drop-in pressure of the fire extinguisher, when a standard visual monthly check is undertaken.

Five-yearly detailed maintenance test. In the case ofwater-based and powder extinguishers a more detailed maintenance check (or ‘extended service’) is required every five years. In this case the extinguisher is discharged and refilled.

10-year maintenance test. Sealed powder and CO2 extinguishers require a service just once every decade. This involves removing the equipment to take away for testing off-site.

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