fire extinguisher inspection
As oufire extinguisher inspectionr engineers are out and about visiting customers, they get asked a lot of fire and security questions. They are always very happy to answer them in person but we thought it might be helpful to tackle some of the most frequently asked ones in our articles over the next few months as well. This month we’re starting off with how long fire extinguishers actually last and how often a fire extinguisher inspection should be carried out.

How long does a fire extinguisher last?

UK fire extinguisher regulations recommend that fire extinguishers should be replaced every 5 years or given an extended service at that point. CO2 fire extinguishers should be replaced every 10 years. But obviously, there are caveats. Fire extinguishers need to have been maintained in good working order. That includes both the monthly visual checks and the annual fire extinguisher inspection by a competent fire extinguisher engineer (more on that below). No extinguisher should be more than 20 years old. It also doesn’t apply if the fire extinguisher has been damaged, or is unusable in any other way. In that situation, it needs to be replaced or serviced immediately. And clearly if it has been discharged it will need to be replaced straight extinguisher inspection

How often should a fire extinguisher inspection be carried out?

Monthly fire extinguisher inspections

You need to do a monthly visual fire extinguisher inspection and here are some of the things you need to look out for:
  • A cracked, torn or blocked hose or nozzle
  • Broken or missing locking pins, seals and tamper indicators
  • A wobbly or broken handle
  • A missing service label. Ensure labels and tags on fire extinguishers are legible and if the service took place over 12 months ago, get one arranged straight away. Don’t forget to record your monthly inspections too.
  • Visibility of fire extinguishers – check they are unobstructed and have clean, legible operating instructions facing outwards.
  • Make sure the pressure dial on the fire extinguisher is pointing to the green, and lift the extinguisher to check it feels full.
  • Any other signs of damage including corrosion or leakage or any signs that the fire extinguisher has been tampered with.
Annual fire extinguisher inspections You should have a fire extinguisher inspection carried out by a competent fire extinguisher engineer once a year. They will carry out a full maintenance check, thorough examination and, if needed, repair in accordance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and BS5306 guidelines. Once a fire extinguisher’s passed its annual service, it will be tagged and dated.  If the fire extinguisher can’t be repaired it must be replaced. It’s worth noting that a good fire extinguisher engineer won’t only service the equipment itself. They’ll also be looking at where it’s located to check whether it’s still in the right place and whether it’s fitted correctly on its stand. They’ll look to see how fire extinguishers are grouped and if that’s still suitable for the hazards within that area. It’s worth making sure you are using a BAFE registered engineer for your fire extinguisher inspection. BAFE is the independent, third party certification registration organisation for the fire protection industry and they verify the competency of a business to provide fire protection services. That way you will know you have an engineer who is fully competent and meets all the appropriate standards. Remember that it’s a legal requirement to keep records of all fire extinguisher inspections, servicing and maintenance.

Next month - Which fire extinguishers should you use?

Next month, we’ll be clearing up the confusion that can surround knowing which fire extinguishers are right for your business as we explain what a CO2 fire extinguisher, dry chemical fire extinguisher and water fire extinguisher are used for. If you have any queries about fire extinguisher requirements in your premises, please visit our fire extinguisher page for more information or contact us for more detailed advice.