Ensuring premises are fitted out with the right fire safety equipment is a great – and mandatory – first step towards protecting your surroundings and the people who use them. However, it’s only half the story. Regular servicing and maintenance of each piece of equipment is vital.
Putting valuable time into the inspection and maintenance of your fire extinguishers could mean the difference between life and death if the need to tackle a fire arises. Here, we take a look at why regular servicing of these life-saving pieces of kit is so crucial and what can be done year-round to ensure they remain as efficient and effective as possible.
Find a portable extinguisher technician
Because they’re often sat unused for so many years, fire extinguishers may be likely to rust and weaken and there’s always an additional risk that someone may tamper with the unit, rendering it useless if it is ever needed. Professional servicing and maintenance is integral for any fire protection equipment. While it’s not down to you as the business owner to carry out these checks, it is your responsibility to arrange regular servicing from a qualified professional.
All types of fire extinguishers should undergo a basic service by a BAFE-approved company for peace of mind they’ve been inspected by a certified engineer. Legislation requires that you are responsible for using a competent person to maintain your equipment. It should be done once a year and meet standards required under BS 5306-3: 2017.
Annual servicing by a qualified technician draws upon detailed knowledge of different types of cylinders, safe methods of inspection of pressure vessels and use of specialist equipment. Should an untrained individual attempt to carry out checks, there’s a huge possibility that key safety aspects will be missed and fire risk could be misinterpreted and ill-advised. It’s simply not worth the risk of not bringing a professional on board to carry out these vital checks.
Fire extinguisher service: what to expect
The annual service involves a thorough inspection of the extinguisher for corrosion or discharge. Further checks and other factors that may compromise the safety or performance of the unit include (but aren’t limited to):
– Whether the unit is in visibly good condition and ascertaining if it has been tampered with
– Weight and pressure monitoring
– Making sure the instruction label is legible
– Operating the pull pin to confirm it’s working as it should
– Ensuring the hose is free from obstruction and working efficiently
Take time to familiarise yourself with the 2017 regulations update for installing and maintaining portable fire extinguishers. The industry standard was updated to reflect changes in products as well as environmental considerations. It includes changes to basic checks and weight tolerances. It also features a new section that requires the engineer to view a copy of the risk assessment for the premises before servicing the extinguisher.
Head over to our BS 5306-3:2017 update infographic, which explains the amends and additions in more detail.
Visual inspections undertaken by business owners
While a thorough inspection is carried out annually by a trained professional, you shouldn’t simply ignore your extinguishers for the rest of the year. Visually check over all fire extinguishers at least once a month in an attempt to spot early indicators of wear and tear. Make doubly sure that each extinguisher is correctly in its designated place and that it’s visible and easy to access. Instructions for use should be clear and all seals should be intact. Regularly carrying out simple checks like this will enable you to notice inadequacies like dents, scratches or light rusting on the fire extinguisher’s body or spot when the hose starts to fray or split.
The importance of correct maintenance and servicing of your fire extinguishers shouldn’t ever be underestimated. A yearly service carried out by a competent professional with the right qualifications, training, equipment and expertise is essential – and what’s more, it might just save a life.