Every type of commercial facility needs to have fire extinguishers on site—they’re a critical part of any fire safety plan, and necessary for passing fire safety inspections.

Luckily, most fire extinguishers go for long periods of time without being needed or used. While this is obviously a good thing, it also means that these fire extinguishers don’t always get the attention and preventative maintenance they need in order to be ready when the time comes to use them.

If it’s been a while since you serviced your facility’s fire extinguishers, it may be time to replace or recharge your commercial fire extinguishers.

What’s The Shelf-Life Of A Fire Extinguisher?

Your extinguishers’ shelf-life depends on the type of fire extinguishers you have. Dry chemical extinguishers have a service interval of 6 or 12 years. Pressurized water, CO2, and wet chemical extinguishers have a minimum service life of 5 years.

When your extinguishers outlive these time periods, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requires that your extinguishers be replaced or tested and recharged. Hydrostatic testing will ensure the integrity of the shell, and when an extinguisher passes the testing it can be recharged and put back into service at your facility.

A recharged fire extinguisher can be used for multiple years until the next required service or testing, and these units can be recharged multiple times. There are also non-rechargeable fire extinguishers available which should be replaced every 12 years, so please be aware of the type of fire extinguishers in your facility.

How To Tell When A Fire Extinguisher Expires

How do you know if your fire extinguisher is expired? Here are a few things to check:

  • The date of the unit’s last service should appear on the extinguisher. If that date is more than the required testing interval, it’s time to get it checked out.
  • The fire extinguisher fails the hydrostatic test, meaning that the shell is no longer viable for use.
  • The extinguisher model is obsolete, and there are newer, better technologies that have replaced them.
  • The fire extinguisher looks like it’s been tampered with. Dents, missing pins, and even missing inspection tags are all signs that your extinguisher should be looked at by a professional.

If any of these conditions are true, it may be time for a new fire extinguisher. A few other reasons to replace your extinguisher include:

  • Broken seals
  • Broken handles
  • Loose components
  • Dented shell
  • Visible rust
  • Cracked or clogged hose
  • Visible condensation

Fire extinguishers must be visually inspected annually and a new tag applied. This is something the Fire Marshal will look for when inspecting a property, so the good news is that you most likely will be notified when something needs your attention. But it’s always a good idea to keep a close eye on your fire safety equipment.

What To Do Next

Not sure how long your fire extinguisher has been hanging on the wall? Don’t worry. The team at Morgantown Security & Fire can help you test and maintain your existing fire extinguishers, and if needed we can set you up with new replacements to keep your property and your people safe.

Contact us today for a free consultation—we look forward to hearing from you!