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Inspecting Your Fire Extinguishers – What Do You Need to Know?

The fire extinguishers in your commercial property are there to reduce risk, in the event of an emergency. They are a legal requirement under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and help to reduce the spread of smaller fires. As with all of the safety equipment in your building, it is important to perform regular checks and maintenance. This ensures they’re doing the job required, that you’re actively working to reduce risk and that the strategy you have in place is effective.

How often do I need to inspect fire extinguishers?

In accordance with current guidelines, you need to visually check fire extinguishers once per month. This can increase in high-risk environments to as frequently as once per week if you work in an environment where they are more likely to be required or damaged. A visual inspection can effectively tell you whether the extinguisher will perform well in the event of an emergency. It will also flag up any damage or issues that mean it may need to be replaced. The appointed ‘Responsible Person’ in your business who is in charge of fire safety should take on this responsibility.

What to check for?

There are 5 key steps to checking your fire extinguisher.

Visibility

As with all kinds of fire fighting equipment, your fire extinguisher needs to be situated in a highly visible location. During an inspection, you’ll need to establish that each extinguisher is where it is expected to be. Check whether there are any boxes, newly installed signs or items that could obstruct the view and that fire extinguisher safety signs are easy to see.

Instructions

Signs and notices of information need to be kept clean and in pristine condition. If you notice wear or damage these should be replaced. This includes safety signs as well as the information available on the fire extinguisher itself. You want to ensure that, in the event of an emergency, the user could identify what they should do to safely extinguish the fire.

Locking Pin

All fire extinguishers have a locking pin that prevents them from being accidentally discharged. This should be visually checked to ensure it is in place and that all relevant seals and tamper indicators are unbroken. If these are found to be damaged, the fire extinguisher will need to be replaced. Sealants like these indicate that an extinguisher is ready, in the event of a fire, and fully loaded to help.

Volume

While the locking pin and seals will indicate whether the extinguisher has been used, it is still important to check the volume. Is it full and has it been unused? You need the full capacity to fight fires and the reassurance that the right equipment is available.

Pressure Rating

Fire extinguishers have a pressure gauge fitted to them. This is an indicator of whether the gases inside are maintained within safe limits. Check that it sits within the manufacturer’s recommendations.

A visual inspection not only ensures you remain legally compliant. It also provides peace of mind and reassurance to your employees. And is a means to keep the business safe at all times.