Fire extinguishers

Every building has them, but do you know how often yours should be inspected and serviced? Let’s take a look… 

As a business owner, you’re responsible for the safety of your building, employees and visitors. A big part of this includes the provision of adequate fire safety equipment throughout the building. As well as providing the equipment, you have to routinely inspect and maintain the equipment to ensure that it will function correctly in an emergency. These requirements are set out in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, you can read more about that here.

The Responsible Person must ensure that the premises and any facilities, equipment and devices provided in respect of the premises …are subject to a suitable system of maintenance and are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair

Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

The below outlines follow British Standards BS5306:3 2009 and are best practice for when and why to do this, you should be organising a mixture of regular visual inspections and more thorough competent services. We include fire extinguisher inspecting and servicing as part of our package, you can learn more by contacting us on 0151 662 0062 or office@foursquaregroupltd.com. 

Initial service (commissioning) of fire extinguishers 

New fire extinguishers should be subjected to an initial service (Commissioning) on-site and immediately prior to installation. This should only be done by a competent person, such as a BAFE accredited Foursquare consultant or somebody similar.

It’s important to check the effective operation of the extinguishers on installation. This includes checking the tamper seal is present as it holds the safety pin in place which prevents accidental discharge, and gives a visual indication of whether the fire extinguisher has been used. It’s also important to check the gauge is working correctly, and that the fire extinguisher is pressurised correctly.

Monthly visual checks

At least every month, and more regularly in some environments, a visual inspection should be carried out by the responsible person or a designated nominee. In some of our clients premises, it’s important we carry out this check weekly or even daily as there’s a higher risk of tamper to the extinguisher. You need to determine the risk to your premises and act accordingly.

The checks should be recorded and if necessary corrective or repair action taken. Check should include:

– each extinguisher is correctly located in the designated place 

– each extinguisher is unobstructed and visible

– the operating instructions of each extinguisher are clean and legible and face outwards

– each extinguisher has not been operated and is not obviously damaged or has any missing parts

– the reading of any pressure gauge or indicator fitted to an extinguisher is within operational and safety limits;

– the seals and tamper indicators of each extinguisher are not broken or missing.

Annual service

Every 12 months, you must have your fire extinguishers serviced by a qualified and competent technician. 

The specific steps that are needed depends on the kind of extinguisher being serviced, as well as its age. Typically the technician will change the headcap seal, check the correct operation of the headcap safety pin, test the pressure gauge, and change any O rings in the junction of the valve and hose or horn. Finally the technician will complete the maintenance label which carries the service history of the extinguisher.

5-year extended service

Extended servicing is done every 5 years for water, foam, powder, and wet chemical extinguishers. CO2 extinguishers have different regulations. Just like the annual service, this is best done by a trained and accredited technician.

The extended service goes through a detailed and in-depth look at everything included in the basic service, to a meticulous standard. It also includes an extinguisher discharge test, with particular attention paid to the pattern, distance and duration of the discharged fire suppressant to ensure it is within specification.

The extinguisher’s valves are checked and overhauled. The interior is inspected to ensure that the lining is intact and there is no corrosion. The headcap O ring is replaced and the headcap assembly reseated to ensure that the valve will hold pressure. After all this the extinguisher is  re-filled and pressurised to specification and re-checked for leaks.

CO2 extinguishers are different because they contain a much higher pressure than other fire extinguishers. As a result, they are subject to slightly different regulations and require different servicing. A CO2 extinguisher requires an extended service every 10 years.

The primary valve is replaced for a fresh one and the extinguisher body is hydrostatically pressure tested to check for stretching, cracking or bulging, which would otherwise be dangerous when re-filled. This involves the extinguisher being sent to an accredited service centre as it’s a more thorough process.

 

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