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Category: Extinguisher

How to Perform a Monthly Fire Extinguisher Inspection

So I’ve purchased my fire extinguishers for my company…now I can just sit back and relax until my fire protection company comes next year for inspection?

Well you can, but damage accumulates after every use, every time the extinguisher gets moved, and it gets damaged from everyday tasks that happen around the extinguisher.

That’s why NFPA requires monthly inspections. You don’t need a licensed professional to do your monthly inspections, so we’ve developed the inspection list for you.

Here are the 13 steps to perform your own monthly fire extinguisher inspection:

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The 5 Question Fire Extinguisher Quiz

certified technician checking a fire extinguisher

If you have worked in the industry for years or just want to learn more about fire extinguishers, please take a few moments to test your fire extinguisher knowledge by answering our five question quiz.

Let’s begin!
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How to Use a Fire Extinguisher?

 

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher – The PASS Method

Using a fire extinguisher requires just 4 easy steps, each represented by a letter in the word PASS:

Pull the pin: every fire extinguisher has a safety pin to prevent accidental discharge of the extinguishing media during handling. There is also a safety tie keeping the pin in place. The fire extinguisher cannot discharge until this pin is removed.

So the first step is to pull the pin out of the extinguisher.

It helps to use a twisting motion while you pull, so that the safety tie is broken, making it easier to remove the pin.

Aim the hose at the base of the fire: as mentioned above, the source of the burning is the base of the fire, where the oxygen is hitting the fuel and heat and where the chain reaction is taking place.

If you aim at the flames, the extinguishing media will fly over the burning material to the other side and be rendered useless.

So, from a safe distance, aim the hose at the base of the fire.

Squeeze the handle: once you are aiming at the base of the fire, squeeze the handle of the fire extinguisher to discharge the extinguishing media.

A word of caution: if you are using a CO2 extinguisher, avoid touching the discharge nozzle, as there is a risk of getting frostbite.

Sweep: sweep from side to side over the base of the fire as you slowly approach. This ensures that all of the burning material is covered with the media. Be cautious not to get close or to stand on the previously burning area, as it can reignite.


It is as simple as that.

 

Annual Fire Extinguisher Service – What Actually Happens?

Today, we are going to take a closer look at each step involved in an annual fire extinguisher inspection. 

Annual Fire Extinguisher Inspection Steps:

1. Look for damage to extinguisher
2. Investigate the gauge
3. Make sure the pull pin works
4. Reseal the pull pin
5. Look for issues with the hose
6. Check for powder in the head
7. Make sure threads aren’t stripped
8. Check for the date (6 year and 12 year)
9. Invert the extinguisher
10. Remove last year’s inspection tag
11. One vast visual inspection
12. Clean with a rag!


Step 1: Look for Damage to Extinguisher

This first step to certify an extinguisher for the next year is to make sure there is no damage to the exterior. You want to thoroughly check it and make sure the instructions and serial number are on it.

Step 2: Investigate the Gauge

You want to make sure the gauge is in the green. If the indicator is off to the left, that means a recharge is needed. Factors that could lead to a recharge are:

• The extinguisher has been leaking
• It could be a factory defect

If the indicator is off to the right, that states the extinguisher has been overcharged.

Step 3: Make Sure the Pull Pin Works

Take off the tamper seal and make sure the pull pin has easy and clear access ‘back and forth’ through the place holder. Sometimes the extinguisher falls, or people knock them off, which can bend the pin.

Step 4: Reseal the Pull Pin

Once you are sure the pull pin is straight, insert the pin back into its proper place and reseal it.

Step 5: Look for Issues with the Hose

Hoses that are outside are exposed to bugs which can clog the hose. Insects like mud wasps can create nests inside of the hose.

The easiest way to clean a fire extinguisher hose is with a metal coat hanger.

To make sure the hose is clear, start by blowing air through it. Then, with your finger, see if you can feel the air come through on the opposite side you blew into.

Step 6: Check for Powder in the Head

Before you insert the hose back on, make sure there is no powder left inside of the head. If powder is visible, it could mean the extinguisher has been discharged before.

Step 7: Make Sure Threads Aren’t Stripped

Make sure the hose easily goes back into place. If not, the threads may be stripped and needing replacement.

Step 8: Check for the Date (6 Year and 12 Year)

This shows when a fire protection company will have to do extensive maintenance on the extinguisher. A 6 and 12 year inspection will need to be done.

Two easy ways to tell that a 6-year inspection has been done:

• There is a collar on the extinguisher
• There is a label, initialed by a service tech, saying inspection complete.

The 12-year test will be done in 2022 (for an extinguisher made in 2010) and this is when the hydrostatic test will need to be performed.

Step 9: Invert the Extinguisher

To avoid the powder from caking (as the result of sitting too long) you need to invert the extinguisher and strike it with a mallet or tap it on the ground.

Powder that has caked will not come out!

Step 10: Remove Last Year’s Inspection Tag

Insert your new tag, make sure it is punched for the correct date/year, and wrap the tag around the gauge.

Step 11: One Last Visual Inspection

Take one last look to make sure everything is in operating order and that there is no corrosion.

Step 12: Clean with a Rag!

Very, very important! Clean the fire extinguisher with a rag to make sure the extinguisher is clearly visible, and all the labels are visible.

Conclusion

The main idea is to get you aware of everything that goes into an annual fire extinguisher inspection. You can see why every step is important to keep the extinguisher in working order.

Three common steps routinely missed are:

• Making sure the pin is completely straight
• Removing the hose and check for clearance
• Make sure the head is clear, indicating no prior use

We hope you never have to use a fire extinguisher, but if you do, it would be devastating if it doesn’t work properly. Make sure you hire a reliable fire safety partner who follows all the necessary steps.