A fire extinguisher that does not work, is empty or is damaged is of no use to anyone, especially in a fire emergency. Servicing or inspecting a fire extinguisher is a relatively easy process that involves using your hands, eyes and perhaps some soap and water. Take a few moments to learn how to service a fire extinguisher, and you will set yourself up to be properly prepared should a fire strike when you least expect it.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Fire extinguisher
- Plain unscented soap
- Bucket of water
- Dry cloth
Pick up the extinguisher to see if it is full. It will feel heavy if the extinguishing agent is inside. If the canister feels hollow or light, it may indicate that it has been used before and requires refilling with the proper extinguishing agent according to the class of the equipment.
Visually check if the safety seals or pin has been broken or are missing. If they are, send the extinguisher to a professional or the local fire brigade to test it and/or refill it.
Perform a visual check of the canister, hose and nozzle. If there are any dents, corrosion, leakage, clogging or other physical damage, you must replace, clean or repair the extinguisher.
Look at the pressure gauge, the circular dial located near the squeeze handles at the top of the canister. Make sure that the arrow indicator reads in the proper zone, which could mean in the green area or numbers wise, it should say at least 150 psi.
Clean any dirt or clogged areas of the hose and nozzle by using plain soap and water. Wipe these areas clean with a dry cloth.
Verify that any operating instructions are legible, are facing outwards and you can easily see them.
Perform a check every 30 to 60 days (unless using a water extinguisher) where you rotate the canister upside down and shake it to ensure the powders do not sink and pack themselves on the bottom. Bring it right side up again, and place back into the holder or cabinet.
Tips and warnings
- Local fire brigades may have a machine on site that can refill the pressure of a fire extinguisher, and they will often do this for free.
- You may also look through the phone book or online for private companies that will inspect and service the fire extinguisher for a fee.
- Do not attempt to open the fire extinguisher in any way to check inside; remember that the contents are under pressure, and opening the canister could cause injury to yourself and others as well as breaking the extinguisher itself.
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