Mandy's Appliance Maintenance Advice

3 Fire Extinguisher Maintenance Facts for Beginners

A fire extinguisher is a protection appliance used to control or extinguish small fires during emergencies. However, when applied to extinguish out-of-control flames that have engulfed a building, users put themselves at high risk. Due to the pressure in fire extinguishers, the devices can explode, especially when damaged or corroded, thereby possibly causing fatalities. Therefore, a small office must have a rigorous maintenance regimen for such appliances to ensure the safety of users. Here are some fire extinguisher maintenance facts for beginners in small offices:

Location of Fire Extinguisher -- On a monthly basis, check all fire extinguishers in your office to ensure that they are located in the right place. Common sense dictates that fire extinguishers should be placed where they can readily be accessed in the event of a fire emergency. Ensure that the devices are located along the usual paths of travel for ease of retrieval. Also, inspect to find out whether the fire extinguishers are free from any visual obstructions to reduce the response time when putting out a fire. For fire extinguishers that are stored in locked cabinets to prevent malicious use, the doors on the cabinets must be made of breakable glass. Further, remember to attach a small mallet on the door for breaking the glass.

Hydrostatic Testing -- Most fire extinguishers contain extinguishing agents such as foam, powder, or water that are pressurised using oxygen-free nitrogen or dry air. A technician can test the extinguishers for pressure levels by examining either the pressure gauge or test indicator. The expert will check the device in a special facility through a procedure known as hydrostatic testing. The technique involves pressurising critical components such as shell and cylinder with a liquid to test for structural flaws and leaks. The barrel is disassembled to check the interior for any signs of abnormalities including pitting and corrosion. Pressure testing should be done at least after every five years.

Recharging a Fire Extinguisher -- Even when a fire extinguisher has never been used before, it can lose its pressurised content through leaks or internal damage. Therefore, recharging your extinguishers is a critical aspect of maintenance that should never be neglected. Notably, the pressure gauge of your device should remain within the green zone to indicate optimal pressure levels. A qualified technician will recharge your extinguisher if the pressure levels drop below the accepted standard. A new extinguishing agent is filled in the unit after cleaning then re-pressurised with dry air or nitrogen. A new valve is then be installed, and the extinguisher put back together before weighing to ensure it remains within allowable limits. Recharging depends on the condition of your unit, but ideally, it should be done every six years.

For more information, contact a local fire extinguisher services.