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Fire extinguisher servicing

A fire extinguisher needs to work straight away when needed, so it is vital they are regularly checked and serviced. Fire extinguishers are pressurised vessels that can burst when corroded or damaged and have been known to cause serious injury and even death.

The Regulatory Fire Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005 states that fire fighting equipment “must be subject to a suitable system of maintenance and are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.”

There are two types of maintenance procedures. Visual inspection by the user and maintenance by a competent person.

Fire extinguishers maintenance intervals

The table below shows the recommended intervals for maintenance of fire extinguishers. It may be necessary to carry out a basic service more than once in a 12 month period if the monthly visual inspection identifies any damage or drop in pressure.

Extinguisher typeVisual inspectionBasic serviceExtended service
Water and water basedMonthlyAnnually5 years
PowderMonthlyAnnually5 years
Powder - primary sealedMonthlyAnnually10 years
CO2MonthlyAnnually10 years

Visual basic inspection

The visual inspection should be carried out, and recorded, on a monthly basis and cover:

  • Location of the extinguisher - is it in the right place?
  • Visibility of the extinguisher - is it positioned in such a way that it can be easily seen?
  • Operating instructions - are the instructions facing outwards, clean and easy to read?
  • The condition of the extinguisher - has it been used, is there any obvious damage or are there any missing parts?
  • Extinguisher pressure - is the pressure of the extinguisher within safe operating limits?
  • Tamper seals - have the seals and tamper indicators been broken?

Extended servicing

Every five years most fire extinguishers need an extended service. This means completely discharging the extinguisher, checking for internal corrosion, refilling and repressurising.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) extinguishers need an extended service every 10 years. This involves a hydrostatic pressure test, to comply with pressure vessel legislation and a new valve. Most fire extinguisher servicing engineers will supply a ‘service exchange’ (refurbished) unit due to the onerous requirements of this process. It can be cheaper to purchase a new extinguisher.