Fire extinguishers will wear out eventually. At some point, all fire extinguishers will stop working, but there isn’t always a hard and fast date for this. As the first line of defence against a fire, it’s important to make sure that your extinguishers still work and are in good shape.
How long do fire extinguishers work?
The length of time an extinguisher works depends on a number of things, such as:
- Type of fire extinguisher
- Whether the extinguisher is disposable or rechargeable
- How well the extinguisher is maintained
- The date it was made
- Recommendations from the manufacturer
According to NFPA rules, disposable fire extinguishers need to be replaced every 12 years, and rechargeable fire extinguishers need to be charged every 6 years. The plastic head of a disposable fire extinguisher has a gauge that says “full” or “empty.” The metal head of a rechargeable extinguisher has a gauge that says “charge” or “recharge.”
How Do You Know If Your Extinguisher needs to be replaced?
Some fire extinguishers have an expiration date set by the company that made them. But many fire extinguishers don’t have clear expiration dates, which can make it hard to know when they need to be replaced. You should look at your fire extinguishers once a month to make sure they are still working. You should watch out for the following:
- Letting off the pressure: Many fire extinguishers have pressure gauges. If the needle on your fire extinguisher moves out of the green area, it’s time to replace it. Fire extinguishers that have lost their pressure can’t be used.
- Signs of Damage: If your fire extinguisher has broken parts, rust, or corrosion, it may not work right and may need to be replaced.
- Failed Hydrostatic Test: A company that services fire extinguishers can do a hydrostatic test to see how well the cylinder of your extinguisher works. If your fire extinguisher doesn’t pass the test, you must get a new one immediately.
As rules change or technology improves, some types of fire extinguishers are no longer needed. Guidelines from the NFPA say which types of extinguishers should be taken out of use. If you have an older fire extinguisher, you should talk to someone who knows about fire protection to find out if it is still useful.