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Fire extinguisher inspection: What to expect

Each year, to comply with British Standards, the responsible person of a business or premises must ensure all fire extinguishers are inspected and serviced by a qualified engineer. With the new year approaching, CheckFire has collated this detailed guide to help you advise your customers and supply them with everything they need for a fire extinguisher inspection.

Why is a fire extinguisher inspection important?

In the event of an emergency, firefighting equipment such as fire extinguishers can be crucial to protecting lives and property. However, a number of factors can affect the performance of a fire extinguisher, such as tampering, adverse conditions and accidental damage or discharge, rendering the unit unfit for purpose. As a result, BS 5306-3 requires all fire extinguishers to be serviced annually by a competent person. This involves a qualified engineer inspecting each unit and highlighting any faults and any resulting work required. For your customers, it’s imperative whoever is responsible for fire safety is aware of their duties regarding fire extinguisher inspections. This is because it helps your customers protect the lives of employees and visitors on site and avoid legal repercussions and reputational harm (if found to be non-compliant with fire extinguisher inspection regulations following a fire).

Who is responsible for servicing fire extinguishers?

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRFSO) sought to solidify the accountability of fire safety in commercial premises. The ‘responsible person’, as referred to in the RRFSO, is described as the business or building owner and must implement and maintain satisfactory and adequate fire safety precautions. This includes the annual servicing of fire extinguishers.

In addition, the responsible person must arrange for a fire risk assessment, to be undertaken identifying the premises’ fire risks, before taking actions to minimise or remove the severity and likelihood of each risk. All findings of the fire risk assessment and fire extinguisher inspections must be recorded in the premises’ fire log book. To learn more, read our guide to the duties of the responsible person.

Who does fire safety inspections?

While the responsible person is accountable for making arrangements for a fire extinguisher service, it is the place of a qualified engineer (referred to as the Competent Person) to physically carry out the inspection. It is important to remind your customers, while they are not responsible for carrying out the inspection themselves, they are responsible for ensuring the technician enlisted is competent and given everything they need to perform the service. BS 5306-3 also requires a fire risk assessment to be conducted by a competent person prior to the service, as well as any fire logbooks being made available to the technician.

How often should fire extinguishers be inspected?

BS 5306-3 requires that fire extinguishers are serviced by a trained and qualified technician once a year. However, an extended service, which involves a much more thorough inspection, must also be carried out every five years for almost all types of fire extinguisher. The only exception to this is a CO2 fire extinguisher, which requires an extended service every 10 years.

What to expect from a fire extinguisher service?

While fire extinguishers must be annually serviced, the responsible person must also carry out monthly visual checks of all fire extinguishers. This includes making sure units are in the correct locations, highlighted by appropriate fire safety signage, undented and undamaged, and have intact safety pins.

However, during an annual fire extinguisher service, more rigorous tests and checks will be performed. Below, we offer an annual fire extinguisher inspection checklist for your customers, so that they know what to expect.

When carrying out a fire extinguisher service, a qualified technician will:

  • Visually inspect the fire extinguisher for corrosion and damage
  • Check the safety pin and tamper seal
  • Take the pressure gauge reading (not applicable to CO2 fire extinguishers)
  • Check the instructions on the fire extinguisher are clear and legible
  • Remove the discharge hose and check for obstructions or damage
  • Weigh and wipe down the fire extinguisher
  • Ensure wall mountings are secure and well-maintained
  • Risk assess the area and make sure it is the correct fire extinguisher for the risk(s)
  • Ensure all signage related to the fire extinguisher is correct and conforms to current standards

 

Once complete, the technician will detail all findings on fire extinguisher service labels, also known as fire inspection tags. Each fire extinguisher will either pass the inspection or be deemed defective. The engineer will place defective fire extinguishers into one of two categories; condemned, meaning the fire extinguisher must be disposed of and replaced, or corrective action required, where repairs or further fire safety measures are needed. The latter will be clearly indicated by the application of a corrective action required (CAR) label.

As the new year looms, your customers will be looking to comply with regulations and get their fire extinguishers serviced. With this guide, you will be able to advise your customers on any queries they may have about their fire extinguisher inspection.

The content of the CheckFire blog is for general information purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure accuracy at the time of publication, under no circumstances should it be considered professional advice. Any reliance you place on the information is at your own risk. Always seek the advice of a fire professional for your particular circumstances and requirements.
  • by Bruce Robins

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