We all know fire extinguishers are an essential piece of safety equipment for business and non-domestic premises, as well as vehicles and residential spaces. What is often forgotten is that they don’t last forever. Over time, the canisters can become corroded by their contents, and the high pressure needed can eventually weaken body seams, among other common problems which occur with old extinguishers. So how long can you expect your extinguisher to last?
Firstly, all of the extinguishers in the First Mats range have a guaranteed lifespan of 5 years, although they can remain safe and effective for longer with proper maintenance and storage. As a very general range, extinguishers can last anywhere from 5-15 years, depending on the manufacturer and extinguishing agent.
It is recommended by UK fire extinguisher regulations that fire extinguishers be replaced every 5 years, or if not replaced then given an extended service. This applies to all types of extinguisher, excluding CO2, which are recommended to be replaced every 10 years. 20 years old is the maximum age any extinguisher should be.
Where to start then? You may not know exactly how old your extinguisher is. If this is the case, the pressure gauge can be inspected; if the needle points within the green area, your extinguisher should be in working order. If the needle on the pressure gauge points anywhere else but to green, the unit will need to be serviced or replaced. In the unlikely event that there is no gauge, the extinguisher should be taken to a professional for testing and if possible, recharged.
If you notice any of the following, the extinguisher must be serviced or replaced straight away:
Continue to check the gauge at monthly intervals to ensure enduring safety, as well as inspecting them for any of the issues listed above.
Extinguishers should also be examined annually by a professional who will make sure everything is in order. They will record the inspection on the fire extinguisher’s tag when they are finished. If there are significant problems with the unit, is can often be more economical to simply replace the extinguisher. This also ensured your life-saving equipment is fully functional, can be relied upon, and conform to the necessary standards.
You’ve checked the pressure gauge; it’s green. You’ve checked monthly for any signs of damage, and everything is in working order. Now how should you store an extinguisher? First and foremost, the extinguisher should be in an easily accessible location in the event of a fire. Most modern extinguishers can perform effectively within a ride temperature range. However, if stored at too low a temperature, cracked valves or hoses can occur, so avoid your extinguishers freezing! Although modern extinguishers can be stored on their side and this will not cause damage best practise is to store them with their supplied brackets to ensure accessibility.
It is undoubtedly best to err on the side of caution when it comes to fire-fighting equipment; if there is any doubt as to your extinguisher’s safety or effectiveness, it should be inspected or replaced immediately.
At First Mats, we offer a diverse range of Fire Extinguishers to handle most types of fire. They all have a guaranteed lifespan of 5 years and are CE marked. To view them, please follow these links below;