How often should fire extinguishers be inspected?

How often should fire extinguishers be inspected?

For most buildings in Australia, a fire extinguisher is the number one tool in place to handle the threat of a small fire. Correct use of a fire extinguisher will quickly and safely extinguish a small fire preventing its spread and major damage to property. An extinguisher is a pressurised cylinder so you can understand why they need to be inspected regularly to ensure they are safe to use and working as intended.

In Australia, fire extinguishers are installed as per AS2444 Portable Fire Extinguishers and Blankets – Selection and Location, and the National Construction Code. Under AS1851-2012 Section 10, routine servicing is required with fire extinguishers to be inspected every six months for damage, loss of pressure, accessibility and to check that the correct type of extinguisher is installed for the operating environment.

Pressure testing

A fire extinguisher must have enough pressure to operate effectively to extinguish a fire from a safe distance. Australian Standards AS1851-2012 states that fire extinguishers are required to have a pressure test carried out on the cylinder on a 5-yearly basis. Depending on the type of fire extinguisher the economical alternative is to replace all fire extinguishers that are due for their 5-yearly pressure testing.

Refilling and Replacing

It is all too common for an extinguisher to be stolen or damaged by vandalism. Additionally an empty extinguisher would be disastrous in an emergency. Regular inspections of your fire extinguishers safe guard you and your property, letting you know when a piece of life safety equipment is missing, damaged, faulty or empty.

It is important to note that if your fire extinguisher is installed in an aggressive environment, the 5 yearly pressure test service frequency will need to be brought forward. This is to offset an extinguisher’s exposure to extreme weather or harsh conditions. As an example, this would apply to an extinguisher installed in a vehicle.

Regular maintenance helps to ensure that your fire extinguisher is safe to use and holds adequate pressure to extinguish a fire from a safe distance.