Portable Fire Extinguishers
Portable fire extinguishers are a necessity to have on hand on each level of a home, in office buildings, and recreational vehicles (boats and RVs) just to name a few important places.
These firefighting devices help to stop the spread of fire damage to property and can be life-saving!
At B&W Fire Security Systems, we believe in educating you about keeping your fire extinguishers up-to-date and recharged.
Read on to find out more about these incredible protection tools and how to keep them in top shape!
Types of fire extinguishers
There are four basic types of fire extinguishers used for fighting various kinds of fires.
Type A is used for ordinary combustibles like wood, paper, and fabrics.
Type B is used for fires involving flammable liquids like grease, gasoline, and oil.
Type C extinguishers are used for electrical fires.
Type D is a specialized extinguisher for putting our flammable metal fires.
Your typical fire extinguisher for home or office use tends to be a combination of A, B and C. This makes the fire extinguisher suitable for use on all three types of fires.
Now, we'll discuss the servicing and inspection of extinguishers.
How often does a fire extinguisher need to be inspected?
According to OSHA, businesses need to have a maintenance inspection performed once a year on their portable extinguishers. This is in addition to a monthly visual inspection.
While it is not mandated but any government agencies, it is recommended that homeowners follow the same standards.
This type of inspection requires a professional fire protection company with certified personnel to come onsite to thoroughly examine each extinguisher to see if repairs are needed.
The fire protection company will also check to make sure each extinguisher is fully charged, has a tamper seal on it, and is not past its recommended lifespan.
There is more involved in this type of inspection than the monthly visual inspection that is also required by federally-mandated regulations for businesses.
A monthly visual inspection from an appointed employee will look for anything that may be damaged such as valves, gauges, hoses, and mountings.
The employee should also look for any damage, missing components, and corrosion as well.
Do fire departments inspect fire extinguishers?
Each fire department is different with the services they offer. Give your local fire station a call to see if inspecting extinguishers is a service they provide for free or if there is a charge involved.
You may find that some fire departments do not offer this service due to liability reasons.
These departments will more than likely direct you to one of their trusted and well-known companies who specializes in fire protection services for the testing and inspecting of your extinguishers.
How long can a fire extinguisher be serviced?
Extinguishers can remain in service for many years if they are regularly maintained and receive appropriate service.
Maintaining routine inspections will help to prolong the life of extinguishers as parts get repaired or replaced as needed.
Performing recharge maintenance may also extend your extinguisher's life as well. If during a monthly inspection you find the fire extinguisher pressure gauge is in one of the red zones, it needs to be serviced.
You may find that the tamper seal is broken and the fire extinguisher has been discharged. This is why monthly inspections are so valuable!
How do you recharge a fire extinguisher at home?
Recharging an extinguisher simply means refilling it with the correct fire fighting agent.
It is not recommended that you attempt to refill fire extinguishers yourself.
Fire extinguishers use gas or chemicals under high pressure to extinguish fires.
The risk of injury if you attempt to service a fire extinguisher yourself should persuade you to rely on the professionals to do any recharging and maintenance.
Improperly attempting to service a fire extinguisher could also leave areas vulnerable in case of an actual emergency which could cause property damage or loss of life
It is advised that a fire department or a professional fire protection service company recharge your extinguisher.
Know the class of extinguisher
As we listed previously in this article, it is important to know the type or class of fire extinguisher you have. This will determine the type of agent used to refill the canister.
Depending on the type of fire extinguisher, they can be filled with either water, foam, dry powder, carbon dioxide or a wet chemical compound.
If the extinguisher has been deployed previously, it needs to be recharged immediately.
How Much Does a Fire Extinguisher Inspection Cost
While the NFPA gives suggestions on prices for fire extinguisher inspections, your location and specific needs will determine the final price.
Each company will have its own rates which may include a fee to inspect each unit and a site or service fee.
Other services may include:
O-ring, washers and/or safety pin replacements
Inspecting and replacing the anti-tamper seal
Updating the service tag that is required on each canister
Many companies will offer a discounted price if a yearly inspection is established in a contract.
Your best bet is to check with your local fire protection company on what needs to be inspected to get a more accurate idea of the cost.