How Often Must a Fire Extinguisher Be Inspected?

Industrial Fire
Apr 4,2024

Maintaining the readiness of fire safety gear is essential, and a critical aspect of this is knowing how often a fire extinguisher must be inspected.

Regular checks are essential to ensure that portable fire extinguishers are in working order and can be relied upon during a crisis.

This article will cover the recommended frequency for fire extinguisher inspections to guarantee their optimal performance during the event of a fire emergency.

How Often Should a Fire Extinguisher Be Inspected?

Monthly Inspection

  • Frequency: Once each month
  • Purpose: A monthly visual inspection is a check to confirm the extinguisher is located correctly, has no physical damage, and the pressure indicator shows a ready state.
  • Who Performs It: Property owners, staff members, or appointed individuals on a monthly basis.
  • Regulation: OSHA’s guidelines call for monthly visual assessments (29 CFR 1910.157(e)(2)).

Annual Maintenance Inspection

6-Year Maintenance

  • Frequency: Six-year intervals for numerous dry chemical extinguisher models
  • Purpose: Conduct an internal review and refill, ensuring each part operates correctly.
  • Who Performs It: Professional fire safety technicians.
  • Regulation: Stipulated in NFPA 10.

Hydrostatic Testing

  • Frequency: Every half-decade for water, CO2, and wet chemical extinguishers or at twelve-year intervals for a range of dry chemical extinguishers
  • Purpose: Evaluate the cylinder’s ability to handle the pressures of use.
  • Who Performs It: Professional fire safety technicians.
  • Regulation: NFPA 10 mandates these testing procedures.

Who Should Inspect Your Fire Extinguisher?

Fire extinguisher inspections can be categorized into two different types: self-inspections and professional inspections.

Self-Inspection (Monthly Checks)

  • Frequency: Once each month
  • Purpose: A simple visual thorough examination ensures the extinguisher is in its correct spot, has clear access without obstructions, no visible damage is present, and the pressure gauge is within the safe range. You can also look to see if the safety pin is secure and tamper seal is undamaged.
  • Who Performs It: Homeowners, business owners, or assigned personnel

Professional Inspection

  • Type of Inspections:
  • Annual Maintenance: Once yearly for a comprehensive inspection, performing any required repairs, recharging when necessary, and applying fire extinguisher tags.
  • 6-Year Maintenance: Every six years, a detailed internal maintenance examination and recharging are performed, typically coupled with a hydrostatic test for some extinguishers.
  • Hydrostatic Testing: An advanced test to assess the structural integrity of the pressure vessel should be performed every five or twelve years (depending on the type of extinguisher).
  • Who Performs It: Qualified fire protection technicians, as they have all the proper tools and expertise.

What to Look for During a Fire Extinguisher Inspection

If you are conducting the monthly inspection, these are the steps for a full inspection:

1. Check the Fire Extinguisher Cylinders Physical State

  • Dents, Rust, Leaks: Inspect for any signs of damage or wear that could impair functionality.
  • Secure Mounting: Verify that the extinguisher is mounted correctly and accessible.
  • Clear Labeling: Confirm that labels are readable with fire class ratings evident.

2. Check the Pressure Gauge

  • Needle Position: Ensure the needle is in the green zone, indicating readiness; if not, contact a professional fire protection company for maintenance.

3. Check the Extinguishing Agent

  • Dry Chemical: Shake the extinguisher to prevent the powder from compacting, ensuring effective use.

4. Check for Obstructions

  • Clear and Easy Access: Guarantee no blockages to the extinguisher, making it easily reachable.
  • Visibility: The extinguisher should be in plain sight and not obscured by objects.

What Happens During a Professional Fire Extinguisher Inspection?

During a professional inspection, they provide a full maintenance check, including:

  1. Visual Inspection: Confirm the extinguisher’s condition and gauge status.
  2. Weight Verification: Check that the extinguisher is properly filled.
  3. Internal Examination: Inspect internal components for any defects.
  4. Recharge: Refill the extinguisher if necessary.
  5. Pressure Verification: Ensure the extinguisher is correctly pressurized.
  6. Certification: Test functionality, reassemble, and dated inspection tag.

More in-depth internal inspections, like the 6-Year Maintenance and Hydrostatic Testing, include a thorough internal check and a test of the cylinder’s pressure resistance to confirm its strength.

Consequences of Skipping Fire Extinguisher Inspections

If you miss monthly fire extinguisher inspections or annual fire extinguisher inspections, you can have serious consequences. Here’s what might happen:

  • Malfunctions
  • Poor Performance
  • Legal Issues

Importance of Record Keeping in Fire Extinguisher Inspections

As an inspection requirement, you need to keep logs on a regular basis. These logs will ensure you have reports of the type of fire extinguisher and whether or not they’re in good working order or if corrective actions are required.

  • Inspection Logs: Record inspections to show fire safety diligence.
  • Insurance Documentation: Records verify maintenance for insurance purposes.
  • Maintenance Planning: Logs assist in scheduling tests and replacements.

Conclusion: The Importance of Regular Fire Extinguisher Inspection

Portable extinguishers are the first line of defense against fires, and their effectiveness depends on their condition. For peace of mind, remember to always follow maintenance requirements, ensuring emergency preparedness and best practices.

Resources to Help with Fire Extinguisher Inspection

Inspection Checklists

To access a helpful fire safety inspection checklist, kindly refer to our blog post, Ultimate Fire Safety Checklist for Houston Businesses. This resource offers a detailed list of items to guarantee that your safety equipment is in good physical condition.

Fire Safety Training Programs

For those seeking fire extinguisher training in Houston, TX, Industrial Fire provides expert-led sessions to enhance practical skills. This will enable your team to take care of all the necessary fire extinguisher inspection requirements. For extra fire prevention training, you can follow fire safety courses like the National Association of Fire Marshals Training

Fire Extinguisher Inspection Services

Industrial Fire TX offers expert fire extinguisher services to safeguard your business and ensure compliance. Our team also conducts inspections and maintenance procedures to prepare your business for emergencies. Contact us today for dependable fire safety inspection and maintenance services.

About the Author

Industrial Fire

We are a family-owned and operated business. Industrial Fire has proudly served Houston, Texas, for over seven decades. Fire protection technology has changed a lot since we started doing business in 1945. Still, one thing hasn’t changed, our commitment to providing our neighbors in Houston, TX, with the best fire protection services and equipment available.