Is fire extinguisher maintenance important? Fire extinguisher maintenance is not only essential but effectively a legal requirement. As, they play such a crucial role in putting out a fire before they get out of hand, so it’s vital that they work if and when needed.
Fire Extinguisher Maintenance
Fire Extinguisher Classes
Each fire extinguisher type is used for different fires which are separated into classes. These classes are A, B, C, D and F. They are put into classes to allow anyone who may need to use them, to know which extinguisher is suitable for what fire.
Class A – Class A is for flammable solid fires such as coal, wood and leather.
Class B – Class B is for flammable liquids such as petrol, lube and diesel.
Class C – Class C is for flammable gases such as propane, methane and butane.
Class D – Class D is for flammable metals such as magnesium, caesium and sodium.
Class F – Class F is for cooking oils, such as olive oil, palm oil and sunflower oil.
Types of Fire Extinguishers
There are five main extinguishers used in the UK, these are water, foam, powder, CO2, Class F fire extinguisher (Wet Chemical) and Specialist Powder. These extinguishers are used for different types of fires, which are separated into classes.
CO2 Fire Extinguisher – CO2 extinguishers can be used on Class B and electrical fires.
Water Fire Extinguisher – Water extinguishers can be used Class A type fires only.
Foam Fire Extinguisher – Foam extinguishers can be used for Class A and B type fires.
Powder Fire Extinguisher – Powder extinguishers can be used on either Class B and C or Class A, B and C depending on the whether it is ABC OR BC dry powder extinguisher.
Class F Fire Extinguisher – This extinguisher can be used on either Class A or F.
Specialist Powder – Specialist Powder extinguishers are used for flammable metals, as metals all burn at different heats therefore these extinguishers are made different for each potential flammable metal.
Levels of Service
When it comes to fire extinguisher maintenance, there are different levels of servicing. After the initial commissioning of the fire extinguisher, which is essentially a basic service of the extinguisher but straight out of the box, and it needs to include the full weight onto the service label.
Basic Service – A basic service should be done every year. The basic service of a fire extinguisher is to ensure the below:
- The extinguisher is still safe to use and is fit for purpose.
- Hazards within the area haven’t changed.
- Extinguishers haven’t been tampered with or discharged.
- Contents are within tolerance.
- Extinguishers operate correctly.
Extended Service – This should be done every 5 years, unless stored pressured to which it should be every 10 years such as CO2. In addition to a basic service, the extinguisher should be discharged to check functionality. Stored pressured extinguishers should include the following:
- Interior body
- Valve assembly interior
- Gauge when depressurised reading zero.
Recharge – This will be undertaken once the extinguisher is discharge or part discharged. After an extended service has been carried out or when the extinguishers mass isn’t correct during a Basic Service.
Overhaul – Known as stretch, pressure or hydraulic testing. Performed on high pressure vessels such as CO2 and not normally carried out on site. It’s recommended that the above standard should be referred to for detailed guidance, normally along the manufacturer’s instructions.
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