Often taken for granted, fire extinguisher maintenance is a tremendously critical process. Admittedly, fire extinguishers are easy to forget, as they merely sit in your workplace just in case a fire breaks out.
While fire extinguishers are not always at the top of one’s mind, it would be a severe problem to discover an extinguisher doesn’t work in an emergency. After all, fire extinguishers are pertinent in ensuring optimal workplace safety.
How Often Should I Inspect My Fire Extinguishers?
Having a fire extinguisher in your building and knowing how to use it is only half the battle. As stipulated in Section 29 (5) of the Fire Services Act 1988 (Act 341), business owners are obliged to equip their buildings with fire safety equipment that is serviced annually.
Here are three different types of inspections that you should perform:
Generally, it’s best to visually inspect your extinguishers at least once per month to check the pressure gauge and look for obvious signs of damage. This is a great benchmark to follow as you can discern several important points such as:
- The extinguisher is present in the right location
- The extinguisher is easily accessible
- No damage is detected
- The extinguisher is fully operational and charged
In a workplace setting, employees can take turns inspecting the extinguishers once a week. Although this is more than the required time between inspections, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
A maintenance inspection requires the help of a professional and should be conducted annually. A registered fire protection company like Palcon has the proper tools and expertise to ensure compliance with fire safety regulations.
Inspectors mark fire extinguishers with a dated inspection tag once they complete their annual maintenance. If the extinguisher doesn’t pass the testing, you must replace or repair the unit immediately. The inspection encompasses:
- Checking to ensure the extinguisher is not due for extended service
- Examining the external body for damage, corrosion or degradation
- Inspecting the discharge hose for damage, blockages and cracks
- Ensuring the pressure gauge is in the operable position
- Placing the extinguisher underwater to check for any leakage
- Replacing the O-ring and reassembling the head cap after a thorough cleaning
- Sending the unit to Jabatan Bomba dan Penyelamat Malaysia for certification purpose
Internal Maintenance Inspection
An internal maintenance inspection also requires professional service. This particular testing involves:
- Discharging any product remaining in the extinguisher body
- Having a complete internal examination
- Recharging the extinguisher
The recommended time between inspections varies on the equipment type. This may be 5 (carbon dioxide and water-based extinguishers), 6 (stored-pressure extinguishers), or 12 (stored-pressure and cartridge-operated extinguishers) years.
Are My Fire Extinguishers Still Good to Go?
Fire extinguishers have no strict ‘expiration date’. However, they do become inoperable over time, and the average lifespan for most fire extinguishers ranges between 10 to 12 years.
Essentially, to ensure your extinguisher is fit for use in an emergency scenario, you should:
- Disposable or non-rechargeable extinguishers: replace every 12 years
- Rechargeable extinguishers: recharge every 6 years
Providing Comprehensive Fire Fighting Solutions
At Palcon, we offer a wide array of portable fire extinguishers to ensure the safety of your building. We are dedicated to delivering fire system installation as well as service & maintenance with the highest standards and best practices.