When does a fire extinguisher need to be replaced?
Because portable fire extinguishers are your first line of defence in the event of a fire, it’s critical that they’re working when you need them.
That means maintaining them properly and replacing them when necessary is vital. So how often do they need to be serviced and when do they need to be preplaced?
The relevant piece of UK legislation covering them is The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the current British Standard is BS 5306-3:2017.
The Order only states that “any facilities, equipment and devices….are subject to a suitable system of maintenance and are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.”
In practice, extinguishers in commercial or public buildings should be visually inspected monthly by the relevant trained person in your business to make sure they’re in their proper position and have not been discharged, damaged or lost pressure since the last check.
The servicing procedures for steel extinguishers include three levels of maintenance:
• Basic – Annual inspection and servicing by a competent person.
• Extended – Every 5 years a basic service plus discharge test and internal examination of stored pressure extinguishers.
• Overhaul – Every 10 years for Carbon Dioxide extinguishers only – a detailed inspection and hydraulic pressure test to meet Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000.
The maintenance schedule varies by type of extinguisher:
• Water, foam and powder extinguishers have to be discharged and refilled every five years.
• CO2 extinguishers must be refurbished every 10 years.
• Kitemarked P50 ‘servicing-free’ extinguishers only need refurbished every 10 years and don’t require maintenance within that time other than the monthly visual inspection and a recorded annual visual inspection as they are guaranteed for 10 years. In fact they lose their warranty if any attempt is made to open or modify them outside of that schedule.
Test discharge should be carried out by a competent, trained person in line with BS 5306 Part 3. They have to be able to prove they have completed maintenance courses and attended a refresher course within the last three years.
So when do you need to replace an extinguisher?
The only absolute is that if an extinguisher is damaged or otherwise unable to be used safely, then it should be replaced immediately.
Otherwise, as long as routine maintenance and checks show them still to have the relevant contents and able to maintain the required pressure, you’re fine to keep using them unless they no longer fulfil the requires of the relevant British Standard of Fire Regulation, if they’ve been updated.
Get in touch
Fraser Fire & Security provides fire safety and security services across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray and Inverness. For more information get in touch.