Regular fire extinguisher inspection is an important part of your company’s fire prevention strategy.
The Basics of Fire Extinguisher Maintenance
Fire extinguishers are an important part of any workplace’s fire prevention plans. A working fire extinguisher can mean the difference between a small fire and a fire that has spread out of control.
It’s your responsibility to ensure that all the fire extinguishers on your property are working properly. At the very least, each fire extinguisher should undergo inspection once a month.
It’s also important to have the right kind of fire extinguisher for your business. You should consider the types of fires that can happen since the equipment needed to extinguish an electrical fire is different from what’s needed to stop a grease fire.
Always ensure that the fire extinguisher is within reach if needed. It shouldn’t be located behind merchandise or too high.
Check the pressure gauge on the fire extinguisher. Usually the gauge has a green zone buffered by red zones on each side. If your fire extinguisher is in the red during inspection, it needs to be repaired or replaced.
Other reasons for repairing or replacing a fire extinguisher include a missing safety pin, if it weighs less than the label indicates it should, or if the canister has been dented, scored, or deeply scratched.
Fire extinguishers need to be tested and inspected by a properly registered fire protection technician after six and 12 years from the manufacturing date stamped on the fire extinguisher.
Fire Extinguisher Training
A fire extinguisher is only as effective as the person who uses it.
It’s important that employees or residents understand that different fire extinguishers have different uses. If a fire extinguisher filled with water is used on a fire containing flammable liquid, it can actually cause the fire to flare up and spread quickly.
There is a two-prong approach to ensuring that this doesn’t happen. The first is confirming that the right fire extinguisher is in the right area. An inspection should confirm that the kitchen has a fire extinguisher that can deal with grease fires while a server room is equipped with fire extinguishers meant for electrical fires. Using that water-based fire extinguisher on electrical equipment could cause an electric shock for the person holding the extinguisher.
Check your fire extinguisher to see if it’s large enough or powerful enough to deal with potential fires. A class A or B fire extinguisher has a rating to show the size of the fire that it can handle. Class A fire extinguishers can handle fires rated from one to 40 while class B extinguishers can handle fires rated from one to 640. Higher numbers can handle larger fires. Although it may seem like a good idea to equip your workplace or home with the most powerful fire extinguisher possible, remember that the larger the number in the rating, the heavier the fire extinguisher will be. During an inspection, have the people most likely to use the extinguisher—those close by or janitorial staff—pick it up and try carrying it around. You may find the extinguisher will be useless if those who need it most can’t even lift it off of the wall.
Schedule a regular fire extinguisher inspection to ensure that your equipment is in working order.