Most people realize that fire extinguishers need to be recharged, or refilled, after use but many people don’t know that extinguishers may need to be recharged as a part of their regular maintenance. Skipping this step can be disastrous if a fire breaks out.
Why You Should Recharge Your Fire Extinguisher
Even if very little of the contents of the fire extinguisher have been used—because of a small fire or as part of a demonstration on how to use the fire extinguisher—the fire extinguisher needs to be recharged. Since the contents of the fire extinguisher are kept under pressure, it needs to be full to keep it working at its maximum potential.
During the monthly maintenance inspection, you may discover that a fire extinguisher’s pressure gauge have moved into the red. It may be a signal that your extinguisher needs a recharge.
In order to be efficient in times of emergency, all of the fire extinguishers needs to be fully recharged and in working order. If a canister is dented, scored, or deeply scratched, you should replace or repair it instead of immediately refilling the contents. Remember that you should have a registered fire protection technician inspect each fire extinguisher on the premises at the six and twelve year anniversary of the manufactured date. Check the bottom of the canister or the label to find a stamped date of manufacture.
How Fire Extinguishers Are Recharged
The method of refilling a fire extinguisher varies depending on the contents of the fire extinguisher. If the extinguisher has been used, it’s important to empty the remaining contents before you refill the canister. Trained fire extinguisher experts can often come to your office, restaurant, school, or business so you don’t have to waste your time hauling the extinguishers across town. In some areas, the fire department can provide this service or recommend a company to contact.
Many businesses and school have multiple fire extinguishers on the premises. You may find it more cost effective to buy a recharging unit and recharge your fire extinguishers yourself. With some basic training—and the right equipment, the proper refilling agent, and an air compressor—you can easily refill your extinguishers yourself.
Once the fire extinguisher is recharged, check the pressure gauge. It should be in the green zone and should read around 100 to 175 psi. The contents will be at the right level and air inside will be at the right level of pressure when the gauge reads properly. If you have a fire extinguisher with a plastic or nylon head, it should not be refilled after use or expiration. A plastic head will crack and leak over time. It’s best to invest in a fire extinguisher that has a metal head. These last longer and can easily be refilled.
The Ontario Fire Code dictates that fire extinguishers should be recharged every six years. Ignoring the recharge date for your fire extinguisher may result in fines, not to mention disaster if there is a fire and the extinguisher doesn’t work.
It’s every business owner’s responsibility to ensure that all fire extinguishers on the premises have been recharged and are ready in case of emergency.