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5 Common Questions About Fire Extinguishers Answered

white hand presses the trigger fire extinguisher

You are probably familiar with fire extinguishers. You see them around all around you, and you know they are an important tool in extinguishing small fires. But if you are a building owner or facility manager, there is a lot more you need to know about keeping your extinguishers in working condition.

Here are some everyday questions about keeping your extinguishers in top condition.

Is there any danger in dropping a fire extinguisher?

Yes. First of all, most of the fire extinguishers you see are pressurized vessels. A typical ABC rated dry chemical fire extinguisher is pressurized to around 185 to 195 PSI. A CO2 extinguisher is pressurized to about 2000 PSI. Damage from dropping can damage the integrity of the extinguisher, so it is very important that you keep the dropped fire extinguisher in a safe and isolated area. Contact a fire equipment service company to handle it.

Dropping the extinguisher can also result in the pickup tube breaking, which would render the equipment useless. To the untrained eye, this can go unnoticed.

So if you knock an extinguisher off its wall hook, do not just place it back. Make sure it is reported to your fire equipment services company.

Why is the fire extinguisher pin sealed?

The seal is a proof that the fire extinguisher has not been tampered with or used since the last inspection or service. Also, it keeps the safety pin from getting loose or accidentally falling out. Without that safety pin, the extinguisher could be partially discharged or triggered. The seal will also contain a date indicating the last time it was inspected. If you are missing a seal on an extinguisher, contact your fire equipment services company.

 

How often must a fire extinguisher be inspected?

The Canadian National Fire Code and Ontario Fire Code mandates that extinguishers be checked as part of the monthly safety procedure. This can be done by someone in your office, and is often the responsibility of you a floor warden or the health and safety group. With some basic training, this individual will know what to look for each month.

Extinguishers are required to be inspected by a trained technician every year. Following this inspection, the technician will affix a new service tag to the extinguisher which proves that it has been inspected according to the requirements of NFPA 10, and a new tamper seal.

Can all extinguishers be used for any type of fire?

No.Extinguishers are rated for specific usages based on the types of hazards that are in a facility. For instance, a dry chemical extinguisher isn’t appropriate for a kitchen. Using this type of extinguisher on a pan fire can actually make the problem worse. For a general purpose fire extinguisher in the kitchen, a K class type of unit is suggested.

For more information and guidance on the correct type of extinguisher to use in various locations within your facilities, please give us a call.

How do you know a fire extinguisher is unsafe?

In many cases, to the average person, this wouldn’t be easy to spot. The most common indicator that everyone can check is the pressure gauge. There would be a green zone between two red ones. If the indicator is in either of those red zones, your fire extinguisher needs immediate service. You can also check for safety pin. If that pin is removed or lost, the unit has to be serviced, too. If there are dents or engravings on the cylinder, it’s possible that the extinguisher is in need of service or replacement.

Fire extinguishers are often the first line of defence when it comes to putting out a fire. Proper maintenance if key to ensuring an extinguisher will be in good condition if you should need it.

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