Keeping a fire extinguisher nearby is a good idea whether at home or at work. This piece of simple safety equipment can save lives if it’s ever needed in an emergency situation. Learning how to use a fire extinguisher and keeping it in full-functioning condition are important aspects to this piece of safety equipment as well.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) states that an employer shall provide portable fire extinguishers and shall mount, located and identify them so that they are readily accessible to employees without subjecting the employees to possible injury. OSHA also states that they employer shall assure that all are maintained in a fully charged and operable condition and kept in their designated places at all times except during use.
A federally mandated inspection schedule must be followed for portable fire extinguisher maintenance in businesses. These inspections should be recorded on a hang tag attached to each extinguisher. These tags keep track of the inspection dates for each extinguisher as well as the type including the make and model number. Keeping these tags accurate and present is an important part of business safety inspections.
Fire extinguisher inspections are regulated by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Further inspection standards are regulated by OSHA and individual state requirements. Various types have requirements to undergo four primary categories of inspections: monthly, annual, six-year, and periodic hydrostatic materials inspections.
Although each inspection must be recorded on the extinguisher’s hang tag, it is also smart to keep a separate master inspection log for all extinguishers within a company as well in order to keep track of all maintenance within a company.
Monthly and annual inspections are the most frequently mandated and the best way to ensure they each operate effectively and stored and mounted properly. It’s also a good idea for private homeowners to do their own visual inspections monthly.
A visual inspection, performed at a business or in a home, could include things such as making sure they are undamaged, the hose doesn’t have a blockage, the safety seal remains unbroken, and the operating instructions are readable. It could also mean a check of the pressure gauge to ensure the extinguisher is fully charged. Make sure to record these visual checks on the extinguisher’s hang tag each time.
An annual inspection would need to be more thorough than a visual monthly check. These should be done by a professional who can certify their inspection. The annual inspection would include an examination of mechanical parts, the fire suppression agent and the delivery system. These checks should be recorded on the hang tag along with the date and inspector’s initials.
A six-year inspection is similar to an annual inspection; however the contents of the fire extinguishers are emptied, refilled, re-pressurized and re-sealed. A licensed inspector will examine the mechanics, hose and delivery system.
Fire extinguisher inspections also check things other than the functionality of the extinguisher. These things include that the extinguishers are in their assigned location, the extinguishers are not blocked or hidden, that the extinguishers are correctly mounted, that pressure gauges indicate adequate pressure is still available and that there are not visual signs of damage or abuse.
Different types of extinguishers have different types of maintenance requirements. There are stored pressure, or dry chemical, water or steam; disposable dry; and hydrostatic.
Keeping your fire extinguishers inspected and fully functioning is not only the law, it could also be crucial should an emergency ever occur in your home or your business?