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How often do fire extinguishers need to be inspected?

Q:

How often do fire extinguishers need to be inspected?

A:

You probably already know that all businesses have a legal responsibility to comply with safety regulations laid out by the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), including safeguarding the building with necessary fire detection, fire protection, and fire-fighting devices such as fire extinguishers (learn more about your building's fire protection in 6 Common Fire Sprinkler Myths Debunked). However, as you go about your daily activities, you may not give much thought to the fire extinguishers positioned in various corners of the building.

It is important to note that all houses, organizations and businesses are legally required to ensure that all fire safety equipment operates with complete functionality (learn more about fire safety in the workplace in Office Safety: Knowing Fire Safety Can Save Your Life). Besides the legal responsibility, you’ll be glad to know that you have functioning fire safety equipment at your disposal in case of a fire break out, right?

Inspection Timelines

So, how often should your fire extinguishers be inspected?

  • Visual Inspection—Once Per Month
  • Fire Extinguisher Servicing—Yearly
  • Internal Maintenance and Inspection—Every Six Years

OSHA requires all employers and owners of buildings to conduct a visual inspection of all fire extinguishers at their disposal at least once per month. Monthly inspection is important as it helps ensure that the extinguisher is fully charged and operational; no obstructions are blocking the equipment; no damage has occurred to the equipment, and the device is still in its intended position. In this procedure, the inspector must check:

  • The last date of professional inspection.
  • The condition and availability of the pull-pin.
  • The pressure gauge to ensure it is in the operating range.
  • Obvious signs of physical damage such as dents, leakage, or corrosion.
  • Tag and date every fire extinguisher to show the organization/building is keeping up with the annual fire extinguisher inspections requirements.
  • Check for any modification that could reduce the effectiveness of the fire extinguishers.
  • Authenticate that there is a fire extinguisher within 30 feet of any cooking area and every 75 feet of travel on every floor of the building.

Professional Inspections

Fire extinguishers also require yearly inspection and servicing from a competent and certified person. In fact, annual fire extinguisher inspection and servicing should be done by an authorized fire protection company.

Internal inspection and maintenance of fire extinguishers should also be done by a professional fire protection company. This procedure involves discharging of the fire extinguisher and conducting an internal examination of the equipment to ensure that all components are working properly. The cylinders must also be tested hydrostatically to warrant their integrity and ability to hold the compressed pressure.

Appropriate testing and maintenance of the fire extinguishers in your building does much more than satisfy the NFPA and OSHA requirements; it guarantees the safety of your workers and business. If you haven’t been doing the above inspection procedures, schedule a hazard assessment today and take a step in creating a safer workplace.

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Written by Trevor Charles

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