By law, employers must provide their staff with adequate means of tackling a fire in the workplace. There is also a legal obligation for a competent person to annually service the fire extinguishers to standard BS 5306 part 3. In addition, all fire extinguishers must be maintained in working order and in good repair in between the services. This means that workplaces must also ensure that they carry out their own checks, at least monthly.
‘a person with the necessary training and experience, with access to the relevant tools, equipment and information, manuals and knowledge of any special procedures recommended by the manufacturer of the portable fire extinguisher, to be capable of carrying out the relevant maintenance procedures of this standard.’
We recommend using a UKFA or BAFE registered company which employs qualified technicians, who undergo refresher training every 3 years to keep their industry knowledge up to date.
- Check for any sign of tampering. This may be missing or broken tamper tags or pins.
- Look for any signs of discharge. This may be water, powder or foam traces on the hose or horn of the extinguisher.
- Gauges showing low or high pressure (usually indicated by red).
- Any damage to fire extinguishers: rust, dents, missing parts etc.
Workplaces with a high risk of damage to their fire extinguishers such as those kept on haulage vehicles should be particularly vigilant. Any damaged extinguishers should be replaced immediately or repaired by a servicing company.
During a basic annual service, the fire extinguisher technician carries out various procedures on the fire extinguishers depending on their make and type. Generally, the service includes:
- Checking all fire extinguisher parts such as: valves, safety devices, gauges, and operating mechanisms.
- Checking that the pressure and weight is within the stated range.
- Issuing a Certificate of Inspection–a legal record of the maintenance carried out on the fire extinguishers to be kept by the customer and technician.
Extended service generally involves carrying out a test discharge on the fire extinguisher, checking internal and external parts, then recharging the fire extinguisher ready for use, if deemed safe by the engineer. BS 5306-3, states that water fire extinguishers, foam fire extinguishers, powder fire extinguishers and wet chemical fire extinguishers require an extended services every 5 years. CO2 fire extinguishers must have an overhaul and pressure test every 10 years. Most company’s carry out a ‘service exchange’ for CO2 and powder fire extinguishers due to be discharged. This entails exchanging your old extinguisher for a new or refurbished extinguisher. Buying new fire extinguishers from Fireguard may prove to be more cost effective than service–exchanging old units.