A properly maintained fire extinguisher can literally be a lifesaver, but it’s not exactly something you should expect to last forever. Like everything else, fire extinguishers have a finite lifespan before they become potentially ineffective or unsafe to use.
A typical fire extinguisher does not come with an expiration date, but there is a time limit on how long a typical charge will last. An ordinary charge can last as little as five years or as much as 15 years. Most experts recommend that you have your fire extinguisher tested on a monthly basis and recharged every 10 years, if not sooner. If you have a disposable fire extinguisher, it’s usually good idea to toss it after 12 years.
One way to find out if your fire extinguisher needs recharging is by checking the pressure gauge located on the nozzle. As long as the needle remains within the green zone, you’re good to go. Otherwise, you should have it serviced by a professional as soon as possible. You can also look at the service tag attached to the fire extinguisher to determine if it’s time for its regularly scheduled service.
It’s also a good idea to have your fire extinguisher undergo a hydrostatic test. This test checks the integrity of the vessel by subjecting it to high pressures. OSHA requires that carbon dioxide (CO2) fire extinguishers be tested every five years. Dry chemical and Halon fire extinguishers should be tested every 12 years.
Fire extinguishers can also suffer from common signs of aging and neglect, including rust buildup around the head and neck of the device. If you encounter a cracked or torn nozzle hose, a missing or damaged locking pin, dents and other physical damage on the vessel itself or a handle that’s working incorrectly or not at all, you should have your fire extinguisher replaced.
If you’re wondering how to dispose of your old fire extinguisher, most fire departments will be glad to take them off your hands if it’s still full. Otherwise, you can have your nearest hazardous waste disposal facility take care of it.
Lastly, it's important to have a reliable fire alarm in your building in the case of a fire and if your building does have a fire alarm, it's important to get it inspected. If you need fire alarm inspectors, fire suppression system inspections or the best fire sprinkler systems in Detroit, contact the team at Jackson Associates today.