Fire Extinguisher Services & Maintenance – A Quick Guide
Maintaining your fire extinguishers is just as important as buying them in the first place.
Firstly, it’s a legal requirement. Secondly, few businesses ever recover from a fire. When extinguishers will put out 80% of fires without the need to call the fire brigade, you can’t afford to have an extinguisher that won’t work when you need it.
According to The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, all necessary fire safety supplies must be properly installed, tested and maintained.
Local fire and rescue authorities are actually visiting premises to check that everything is in order.
A minor breach could result in a penalty of up to £5,000. A major breach could see you facing a 2 year prison sentence.
On top of this, the British Standard 5306 part 3 requires fire extinguishers to be maintained at least annually by a competent person.
Who is a competent person?
In the UK, a competent person is a service technician. They should be fully BAFE certified, and should be able to show you their BAFE Technician Card
How often should your extinguisher be serviced?
You should get your fire extinguisher serviced
• Upon delivery
• Every 5 years
The responsible person in your business can carry out some of these inspections, but for others, you will need to hire an external, BAFE certified technician.
Your fire extinguisher will need to be checked after it has been delivered, to make sure that it has not been damaged. This is known as a commissioning service and should be carried out on site.
Don’t get it commissioned before delivery; your extinguisher could still be damaged in transition.
Monthly fire extinguisher inspections
This is a simple visual check that can be carried out by ‘the responsible person’ in your business. You will need to check that:
1) Extinguishers are in their proper places – this is where fire extinguisher signs are handy
2) Extinguishers are clearly visible
3) The label and operating instructions are clean and facing out
4) Extinguishers haven’t been operated
5) There are no damaged or missing parts
6) The extinguisher indicator or pressure gauge is within the right range
6) OK indicators and anti-tamper seals are not broken and are in place
You will make a note of the inspection in your log book. If further action needs to be taken, you will need to arrange it.
Annual Fire Extinguisher Service
Each year, you will need for a competent person (BAFE certified technician) to service your extinguisher. All extinguisher parts and operating mechanism will be checked. The cylinder will also be checked for corrosion and the fire extinguisher’s weight will be recorded.
You should get a certificate of inspection, for your records, when this has been completed. You should definitely keep this document.
Extended fire extinguisher servicing
This will be the most thorough inspection your extinguisher will receive. Again, it needs to be carried out by a competent person.
As part of your service, your extinguisher will be emptied and refilled. This is known as a discharge test, and it checks your extinguisher’s discharge function is working correctly. It also gives your technician the chance to carry out an internal inspection.
Is fire extinguisher maintenance & servicing worth the cost?
With smaller fire extinguishers, it’s often cheaper to simply replace them than service them. It’ll be less hassle, too.
However, if you have a large or wheeled fire extinguisher, it is generally cheaper to get it maintained and serviced. After all, just think of the cylinder size, the wheels, attached handle bar…you don’t want to pay for those again!
photo credit: JanneM via photopin cc