How Often Do Fire Extinguishers Need To Be Inspected?

Fire extinguishers are one of the most important accessories in your home or office, yet they are also one of the easiest things to forget about. These important tools are only used rarely, and hopefully never. This can make it easy to forget about maintenance or replacement. Keeping your fire extinguishers in good working order is essential to the safety of any structure.

This quick guide will answer the question, “How often do fire extinguishers need to be serviced or replaced?” This information could help save lives.

How To Check a Fire Extinguisher

Visual Inspection – This type of inspection should be done at least once a month. It is required by OSHA guidelines that employers perform a visual inspection of portable fire extinguishers once a month. Homeowners should also follow these guidelines. When visually inspecting, you should take note of the following factors:

  • Present in a designated location
  • No visual damage
  • No obstructions blocking the equipment
  • Fully charged and operational

Maintenance Inspection – Another type of inspection is the maintenance inspection. This should be done once a year. In this case, maintenance means that a thorough examination will be done as well as any repairs that need to be done. This should be done with all fire extinguishers on the property.

However, this type of inspection is not done by an employer or a homeowner. A professional fire protection company should complete this. They will have the right tools to ensure the job is done correctly and safely. They will also be able to do any of the needed repairs. Following this inspection, the extinguisher will be given a dated tag that is good for one year. If it does not pass this inspection, it should be replaced.

Internal Inspection – A third type of inspection is the internal inspection. This will need to be done every 5, 6, or 12 years. The time for inspection will depend on the type of device. During this type of inspection, the fire extinguisher will be discharged, and a fire protection professional will examine the inside of the device. This is to ensure that all the components are in good shape.

Fire extinguishers must periodically be hydrostatically tested. This will help ensure they can safely contain the pressure used in operation. Hydrostatic testing must be done every five years for wet chemical devices. Dry chemical devices can have this done every 12 years.

Do Fire Extinguishers Really Expire?

Fire extinguishers are not manufactured with an official expiration date. However, most extinguishers do have about a 12-year life span. This means that after 12 years, the device will likely fail hydrostatic testing and need to be replaced.

You can either schedule a replacement every 12 years or wait until the device fails. However, waiting until the device fails a test is a riskier option. If you are unsure about how to deal with aging fire extinguishers, talk with a fire protection professional in your area.