Fire Extinguisher Inspections: Everything You Need to Know

Fire Extinguisher Tech Services a Fire Extinguisher

Fire extinguishers are the first line of defense when it comes to stopping a small fire from becoming a much bigger, and potentially life-threatening fire. Fire extinguishers need maintenance and inspections to ensure they will do their job in the event of a fire. The NFPA requires the following inspections and testing procedures on standard ABC fire extinguishers:

  • Monthly, visual self-inspections on all fire extinguishers in your facility
  • Annual inspections on all fire extinguishers, performed by a certified technician
  • 6-year maintenance and recharge on all fire extinguishers, performed by a certified technician
  • 12-year hydrostatic pressure testing, performed by a certified technician

Monthly Fire Extinguisher Self-Inspections

Monthly fire extinguisher self-inspections can be completed in-house by one of your own employees. It’s a simple process that can be completed with very little training. Below is a step-by-step guide to completing monthly fire extinguisher self-inspections:

  • Ensure fire extinguisher is in its designated place
  • Make sure the fire extinguisher is visible and/or there is signage in place indicating where the fire extinguisher is located
  • Determine if the fire extinguisher can be easily accessed
  • Ensure the pressure gauge is operable
  • Make sure the fire extinguisher is full

The NFPA requires that all fire extinguishers be inspected with these guidelines prior to and during installation. Detailed records must also be kept of each inspection. This information can be displayed on a fire extinguisher tag or on a separate paper or electronic file. The only details that are required for your records are the month and year of the inspection and the name of the person who performed the inspection.

Annual Fire Extinguisher Inspections

Per NFPA 10, a full maintenance check needs to be performed every 12 months by a certified fire extinguisher inspector. Unlike the monthly fire extinguisher inspections, the annual inspections must be administered by a licensed fire protection company. An inspector will come to your location and check all mechanical parts of your extinguishers.

The goal is to ensure there are no expelling means and that the physical condition of each fire extinguisher is in good shape. In the event a fire extinguisher does not appear to be in working condition, an internal examination and testing may be required.

TIP: Schedule your annual fire extinguisher inspections with your other fire protection inspections (fire sprinkler, fire alarm, etc.) and save time and money by eliminating additional trips and invoices.

6-Year Fire Extinguisher Inspection & Maintenance

NFPA 10, requires all stored pressure fire extinguishers to be serviced and recharged every six years. This maintenance must be completed by a certified fire extinguisher service provider.  Below is a step-by-step breakdown of the 6-Year fire extinguisher maintenance process:

  • Inspection & ID

One of our certified fire extinguisher experts will come to your location and perform an annual inspection on all fire extinguishers.

  • Discharge and Valve Stem Replacement

We then discharge the existing dry chemical powder in the extinguisher and replace the valve stem and the O-Rings to prevent any future leaks. 

  • Dry Chemical & Nitrogen Refill

The fire extinguisher is then refilled with an ABC dry chemical and nitrogen to the manufacturer’s recommended weight.

  • Testing for Leaks

To ensure there are no leaks in the extinguisher, the technician uses a mixture of water and soap to check for small leaks.

  • Compliance Sticker & Inspection Tag

The 6-year compliance sticker as well as the annual inspection tag are placed on the cylinder and it now meets NFPA compliance.

12-Year Fire Extinguisher Inspection & Maintenance

The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires that all low-pressure cylinders (like fire extinguishers) be submitted for hydrostatic testing once every twelve years to remain in safe, working condition.

Because these tests require special equipment and high pressure, any hydrostatic testing should only be performed by certified individuals with the proper equipment. Below is a step-by-step breakdown of the 12-Year hydrostatic testing process:

  • Cylinder Discharge

One of our certified technicians identifies and inspects the fire extinguisher. The cylinder is then discharged to prepare for hydrostatic testing.

  • Hydrostatic Testing Machine

The fire extinguisher is connected to the hydrostatic testing machine and is lowered into the water test jacket cylinder for pressurization.

  • Pressure Testing

The fire extinguisher will be pressurized using a water expansion method and must hold the manufacturer’s specified pressure for at least 30 seconds.

  • Air Dryer

After the tank has been tested, the liquid will be drained, and the fire extinguisher will be put on a heated air dryer.

  • Cylinder Refill

The fire extinguisher is then refilled and affixed with a hydrostatic test sticker/metal stamp directly on the cylinder.

  • Test For Leaks

Finally, the cylinder is tested for leaks. If no leaks are present, the annual inspection tag is placed on the cylinder and the fire extinguisher is now NFPA and D.O.T compliant.

For more information about fire extinguisher inspections, please visit the NFPA website. Ready to schedule your next annual, 6-Year, or 12-Year fire extinguisher inspection? Request an inspection today and we’ll have a local fire extinguisher expert reach out with the next steps.