Are You Handling Fire Extinguisher Inspection Correctly?

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    Jul 31, 2014
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Are You Handling Fire Extinguisher Inspection Correctly? Photo by Jacson Holmes

Just about every home and building has a fire extinguisher located in it somewhere. Even those with sprinkler systems generally have fire extinguishers located throughout in case of an emergency. While fire extinguishers are both convenient and efficient, they still need attention. Without a proper fire extinguisher inspection, you could suddenly have a bad situation turn much worse. Fortunately, fire extinguisher inspection doesn’t demand much. Keep reading for a quick tutorial on the matter.

How Often Do I Need to Inspect My Fire Extinguisher?
Fire extinguisher inspections should happen ever six years. However, a fire extinguisher must always be inspected when:
• It’s been used
• The pin has either been pulled or otherwise moved
• The gauge is not in the proper pressure area (usually green)

Check with your insurance company too, as they may have different demands regarding when you need to inspect extinguishers.

Who Can Inspect Them?
The ability to inspect fire extinguishers is covered by 29 CFR 1910.157 of the Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. If it’s a private residence, you may be ok to do it. However, for most businesses, your insurance company will probably have rules about a qualified contractor being in charge of inspecting it. Local governments will also have their own take.

Ensuring They’re Approved
There are many different kinds of fire extinguishers, designated by their class (which generally refers to what they use to put out fires). So whenever you do your fire extinguisher inspection, be sure you check to confirm yours is still approved either by your local municipality or your insurance company. In terms of government regulations, you can check 29 CFR 1910.157(c)(2) to make sure yours is still ok.

Making Them Available
Obviously, a fire extinguisher is no good if it can’t be found in the case of a fire. You also need to make sure it is extremely easy to locate because the panic a fire will cause can cloud people’s ability to think straight or remember where they saw it before.
So part of your fire extinguisher inspection needs to involve making sure all of yours are still in easy to spot locations. They have to be mounted on the wall, so they’re not missed by being too low. These locations should also be well marked.

It’s ok if you house your fire extinguisher in a cabinet or mounted box. However, part of your fire extinguisher inspection then means making sure that it is unobstructed and easily opened. If the cabinet or box is opaque, you have to make sure you label the outside so people know it contains a fire extinguisher.

Checking the Fire Extinguisher
Your fire extinguisher inspection wouldn’t be worth much if you didn’t actually check on the device itself. You won’t actually test it out, but you do have to check some key factors. One we already touched on is that the gauge needs to record that it’s ready to work by either showing the approved pressure or simply being in the green. You want to inspect the extinguisher itself to make sure the unit isn’t banged up in any way, that the hose and nozzle are unobstructed and that the lever is in good shape and won’t be blocked when someone has to squeeze it.

Instructing Others
While this isn’t part of any official instruction, it’s worthwhile to take a moment during your fire extinguisher inspection to see that your staff understands where to find them in case of an emergency. You should also take a few minutes to ensure everyone knows how they work too. The easiest way to remember is with the acronym, P.A.S.S. It stands for:
• Pull out the pin
• Aim the hose low (you want to hit the base of the fire)
• Slowly squeeze the lever with even pressure
• Sweep the extinguisher’s nozzle from side to side so that it covers the entire base of the fire

It’s a good idea to read the instructions that came with your fire extinguisher just to make sure this is accurate. Again, not all extinguishers are the same, so it’s worth looking into.
Fire extinguishers aren’t the most complicated devices in the world, but they could easily save many lives. So take a moment to inspect them by following the above rules so you know they’ll work when it’s most important.

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Just about everyone has a fire extinguisher these days, whether it’s in their home or commercial building. While they’re a great tool in case of a fire, they’re still an instrument that needs to be handled correctly. fire extinguisher inspection also includes inspecting it regularly to ensure it’s ready to do its job.

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