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How to Decide to Recharge or Replace Your Fire Extinguishers

How to Decide to Recharge or Replace Your Fire Extinguishers

As a business owner, I know you’ve got a full plate keeping your company going strong. Yet don’t let fire safety take a backseat – it’s mega important!

Investing in fire extinguishers is clutch for protecting your business from fire hazards. But between all the different types of extinguishers out there, how do you even choose the right one?

Read on!

Learn How to Use Your Fire Extinguisher

Fire extinguishers come in lots of different shapes and sizes. Your fire protection plan will only work properly if you get knowledgeable about the various types available and how to use them. You got to be able to quickly choose the most effective one when an emergency fire situation arises!

Why are there so many kinds of fire extinguishers? It’s because they each react differently with different types of fires. For example, a Type K fire extinguisher is excellent at extinguishing grease and cooking fires. But a law office or retail clothing store likely doesn’t need this type since they probably won’t have kitchen grease fires. On the other hand, an office with lots of electrical equipment would benefit from having Class C extinguishers designed for electrical fires.

The first step in deciding whether it’s time to recharge or replace your fire extinguisher is understanding exactly what type of extinguisher you have and what materials are inside it. Is it a water, foam, dry chemical, halon, or clean agent extinguisher? Once you know what you’re working with, you’ll have a much better sense of its purpose, limitations, and recharge/replacement needs.

Spend some time reading the labels, markings, and tags on your extinguishers so you know their types, sizes, active ingredients, and operating instructions. The more informed you can be, the better decisions you’ll make regarding maintaining them.

Know When It’s Time to Recharge Your Trusty Extinguisher

Fire extinguisher chemicals become less potent over time. How long an extinguisher remains fully effective depends on the type of extinguisher and the specific chemicals it contains.

To ensure your fire extinguishers maintain their ability to fully function in an emergency situation, it’s highly recommended to recharge them after the manufacturer’s recommended service life has passed. There should be information on the label, ring, or tag indicating the yearly service date and when it’s due for inspection and recharge.

If a fire emergency happens that requires the use of one of your fire extinguishers, get it scheduled for a recharge fill as soon as possible. You never want to be caught with an emptied extinguisher when you need it most. It’s also very wise to have multiple extinguishers strategically located around your property. Relying on just one is risky business!

The chemicals and agents inside a fire extinguisher are contained under pressure. When any of that internal pressure is used up and released, as happens when you activate the extinguisher on a fire, its effectiveness at smothering the next fire is greatly reduced.

It is absolutely critical that the fire-suppressing contents of your extinguishers maintain the proper amount of pressurization in order to ensure they’ll perform their life-saving duties in an emergency just like they should.

If you notice any loss of pressure or discharge from your extinguisher, get it refilled immediately by a licensed service company. You never want to take chances when it comes to having working fire protection equipment. In a dangerous fire emergency, a properly pressurized, functioning fire extinguisher can truly save lives and property.

Know When It’s Time to Replace Your Old Extinguisher

No fire extinguisher will last forever. Like all tools and equipment, they have a limited lifespan. On average, a quality fire extinguisher will last somewhere between 5 to 12 years before needing replacement.

It’s very important to keep track of the purchase date, last recharge date, and recommended replacement year for each of your extinguishers. Write this information down in a maintenance log or enter it on your computer so you don’t lose track and accidentally let an expired extinguisher stay in service.

The recommended replacement timeline is usually indicated somewhere right on the body of the extinguisher cylinder or on the informational ring and tag near the handle. When the time comes, replace it right away – don’t take chances on outdated equipment.

In addition to replacing expired old fire extinguishers, you should also immediately replace any extinguisher that shows visible signs of damage or corrosion. Some examples include:

  • Missing, broken, or jammed pull pin
  • Loose or damaged discharge handle
  • Visible rust or corrosion on external metal parts
  • Signs of leaks, cracks, holes or dents in the cylinder or hose

If an extinguisher has any of these issues, replace it as soon as possible. Damaged parts can render the extinguisher ineffective exactly when you need it in an emergency. Don’t take that risk.

Even if you can’t locate or read the expiration date or tags on an old extinguisher, it’s wise to periodically replace units over 5 years old. Fire extinguisher effectiveness needs to be verified on a routine basis since lives may depend on them functioning properly in an emergency.

Replacement ensures the internal chemical agents are potent and the sealed cylinder has maintained the necessary pressurization for maximum firefighting capability. Don’t let old equipment give you a false sense of protection.

Routine Inspection Is Essential

Periodically inspecting your fire extinguishers might seem tedious, but doing so guarantees your first line of defense against a fire is in full working order. It only takes a minute or two per unit to give it a quick visual once-over.

Catching small issues early on simple inspections will ensure reliability when you need it most. Look for any signs of damage, corrosion, leaks, clogs, low pressure, or expired inspection tags.

Your ability to make smart, informed decisions about maintaining your fire suppression system will directly impact whether you, your loved ones, your employees, and your property survive a dangerous fire.

Taking the minimal time needed to properly inspect and maintain all the components of your fire safety equipment, especially your critical first-line-of-defense fire extinguishers, is one of the single most essential things you can do to protect your home or business from the unthinkable destructive effects of a fire. Don’t let it slide.

Seek Expert Assistance with Your Fire Extinguishers

Fire hazards affect everyone, but there are several smart things you can do to minimize the risk and negative impact. Creating a comprehensive fire prevention plan tailored to your property is a wise first step.

Hiring a reputable fire protection company to assess your needs and develop a customized fire suppression strategy and maintenance schedule is by far the safest way to safeguard your property and the lives of occupants.

With a professional plan in place for your specific property, you’ll have great peace of mind knowing you’ve done all you can to protect against catastrophic fires. You’ll be able to focus on growing your business and enjoying time with loved ones rather than living in fear of fire risks.

For a free expert consultation on all your fire suppression needs – from fire extinguisher selection, supply, inspection, certification, recharging and maintenance to alarm systems, sprinklers, and emergency response plans – contact the licensed professionals at Braza Fire today at (505) 889-8999.