How Often Should Fire Extinguishers Be Checked?
The best case scenario when it comes to fire extinguishers is never having to use them in the first place. Since this scenario just isn't realistic, you need to practice proper fire extinguisher maintenance to be prepared in case a fire breaks out in your home or business. You don't want to find out your fire extinguisher isn't charged when a fire emergency breaks out and you need it most.
Here, we will review how to perform a proper fire extinguisher inspection, complete annual maintenance, and follow OSHA Fire Code regulations.
Checking Fire Extinguishers: The Three Types of Inspections
There are monthly, yearly, and long-term inspections that are necessary for fire extinguishers, each with different recommendations and requirements for the inspection. Here are the three time frames and checklists for checking fire extinguishers in your business or home.
Once Per Month - Visual Fire Extinguisher Inspection
In accordance with OSHA requirement 29 CFR 1910.157(e)(2) for portable fire extinguishers, employers must be performing a visual inspection once per month. For homeowners, this is also a useful benchmark to follow. A visual inspection is helpful to quickly ensure the fire extinguisher is still where it should be and that it is operational.
When completing a visual inspection, you should look for the following:
- Any signs of physical damage
- The pressure gauge shows the extinguisher is still in the operating range
- The pull pin is present and it's seal intact
- Date and initial the tag log after your monthly inspection is complete
Once Per Year - Maintenance Inspection
According to OSHA requirement 29 CFR 1910.157(e)(3), employers must complete a full maintenance check on all portable fire extinguishers once per year. This differs from visual checks, as a maintenance check refers to completing a thorough examination as well as repairing and replacing any extinguishers that do not pass the inspection.
You should be sure to note the date inspected tag on the extinguisher and keep it for your records until the next yearly check.
Every 5, 6, or 12 Years - Internal Maintenance Inspection
Depending on the type of extinguisher, discharging tests and internal examinations are required to ensure all components are working correctly. Usually, pressurized water, carbon dioxide, and wet chemical extinguishers should be tested every 5 years. Dry chemical extinguishers are required to have a 12-year hydrostatic test, with a 6 year internal examination in between. Internal maintenance inspections may be best performed by a professional fire protection company.