Fire is rarely a planned event, so taming it requires a rapid and accurate reaction from you to prevent a disaster. Fire extinguishers are your first line of defense during these unfortunate events. According to the research done by the National Association of Fire Equipment Distributors, fire extinguishers were effective 95% of the time during the firefight. The research data that spans over 34 years shows that a timely and precise reaction on ignition allowed fighting or preventing a fire from spreading with fire extinguishers only without any firefighting training. In 60% of the analyzed cases, the fire unit wasn’t even called or informed since ignition didn’t cause any significant damage.
A fire extinguisher is a powerful tool, yet its effectiveness depends on how you maintain it. Poor handling and ill-timed service checkups can drastically compromise the firefighting abilities of a fire extinguisher. Additionally, if your firefighting tool is expired it can even become a dangerous item in your vicinity. Therefore, it’s crucial to check it regularly whether you should service, recharge, or replace your fire extinguisher.
When It’s Time To Recharge Your Fire Extinguisher?
There are 5 different classes of fire extinguishers. A, B, C, K, and D fire extinguishers are classified according to the types of fire they are geared to fight. The firefighting properties of fire extinguishers come from their fire extinguishing agent. Depending on the nature of these agents, there are different requirements for servicing and recharging fire extinguishers.
Your fire extinguisher weighs less than it should
National Fire Prevention Agency has standards for Fire Extinguishers that advise performing check-ups of every fire fighting tool at least once a year no matter which class it belongs to or which firefighting agent it uses. One of the steps during this check-up is weighing your fire extinguisher to compare whether its mass is different from the manufacture’s standards. The weight may change even if you never used it. In case it weighs any different from the standard established by the manufacturer, you should take one of the two courses of action. In the first case, it just might be time to recharge your fire extinguisher since its mass has probably changed and there is little agent inside the container. In the second, there might be a faulty part in your fire extinguisher and it might need servicing. Even though fire extinguishers are designed to withstand long years of service, some parts might lose their functionality entirety with time.
Every 6 Or 12 Years Depending On The Fire Extinguisher
The majority of fire extinguishers contain chemical agents that don’t require frequent check-ups. The ability of such agents to last allows fire extinguishers to keep their functionality for 3, 5, or even 12 years without any maintenance or repair. However, when the time comes it’s essential to recharge them since some chemical components might fall into decay and, therefore, lose their firefighting efficiency. NFPA recommends recharging portable fire extinguishers that use dry chemicals every 6 or 12 years.
If The Fire Extinguisher Was Recently Used
If your fire extinguisher served its purpose and saved your money, property, or health it is time to pay it back and recharge it. Shortly after the use, you should call a specialist to make sure that your extinguisher will be ready for action again. Even if there is still some extinguishing agent left inside of the container you should nonetheless consider recharging your extinguisher as soon as possible. You never know how big will the next ignition be and how much agent you could need, therefore, it’s critical to make sure that your fire extinguisher will be ready to show its maximum performance. Even if you use the extinguisher by accident and dispensed a small amount of its agent, the tool requires a check-up in any case. Any dispensing action could result in the dropping of pressure levels which inevitably leads to limiting the firefighting properties of your fire extinguisher.
When It’s Time To Replace A Fire Extinguisher
Every fire extinguisher has a lifespan. Depending on the materials used in production and extinguishing agents, these terms can vary from 5, 12 to even longer times. The expiration date of a firefighting tool should be marked on the haul of a fire extinguisher or on the servicing tag. Besides the expiration date, there are some red flags that could signal that its time to consider replacing your fire extinguisher:
- If your fire extinguisher is missing a service tag. A service tag is a crucial part of a fire extinguisher. It’s not just some requirement of a State Fire Marshal it is also an ID and a diary of a fire extinguisher. It contains information about the extinguisher’s condition, the latest time it underwent a maintenance check, and who was responsible for it. Besides, it might contain some info about small flaws in the extinguisher’s build. Without this information, a fire extinguisher can’t be used properly and safely.
- If your fire extinguisher was damaged. Any physical damage to your fire extinguisher can lead to serious problems with its functionality. It can start losing pressure, the hose or nozzle can lose their functionality and, as a result, the fire extinguisher could be useless in case of a fire. In addition, such flaws can turn a fire extinguisher into a hazard to your life and property.
Some of these flaws can be repaired or mended somehow, however, this might cost you a considerable sum of money for a temporary solution. Therefore, we advise obtaining a new fire extinguisher to replaced the damaged one to save you time, money, and potentially, health.
Even though fire extinguishers tend to serve many years it’s your responsibility to keep an eye on their shape. Recharging or replacing your extinguisher in time is one of the essential fundamentals of proper fire safety. If you hesitate whether you should refill your fire extinguisher or if it is time to dispose of it and purchase a new one, ask your local fire safety specialists for advice.