Portable fire extinguishers are likely the most familiar fire safety device. That’s because fire extinguishers are the first line of defense when a small fire breaks out.
However, just like all aspects of any fire protection system, fire extinguishers are only effective when they are properly maintained and used correctly.
Because fire extinguishers are the first line of defense against fire, it’s important that everyone knows where they are and understands how to use them properly.
There are many fire protection companies in the Vancouver area, you can check their sites online such as https://www.bartecfire.com, which provides tips that can help you find fire safety equipment, and how to use fire extinguishers effectively.
There are also many laws in Vancouver that as govern fire safety regulations.
B.C. Fire Code section 6.2, the NFPA 10, as well as Vancouver city bylaws, require that fire extinguishers conform to all CAN/ULC standards for placement and installation. There laws also require all fire extinguishers to inspected on a monthly and annual basis, and they must also undergo routine maintenance at 3, 6, and 12 year intervals.
In the following article, we’re going to go over what is involved in doing regular monthly and annual checks, as well as the other maintenance required at longer intervals.
Monthly Inspection Checks
The NFPA, or National Fire Protection Association, sets the standard requirements for all portable fire extinguishers used in Canada. And, under NFPA 10, fire extinguishers must be checked on a monthly basis for the following:
- The fire extinguisher is installed or located in a designated place and there are no obstruction which block its access or visibility.
- The extinguisher’s pressure tamper indicator, hazard assessment label and HMIS labels, hose/nozzle sign, and hanger are displayed and clearly visible.
- Operating instructions must be clearly legible and face outward.
- Fullness (confirmed by lifting or weighing, as opposed to checking pressure gauge which may be faulty)
- Tamper indicators/safety seals not broken or missing.
- Fire extinguishers must not be physically damaged or corroded.
- Pressure gauge must be in the operational range.
If a rechargeable fire extinguisher fails to meet any of the aforementioned requirements, it must either be replaced, or undergo a full maintenance check/repair by a qualified fire safety professional.
On the other hand, disposable, non-rechargeable, as well as dry chemical fire extinguishers cannot be repaired, therefore, if they do not meet the NFPA 10 requirements, they must be removed and replaced.
NFPA 10 also requires that the person conducting the monthly fire extinguisher inspection record the results. During annual inspections, fire extinguishers receive a permanent tag used to track monthly inspection results. However, you may also keep an electronic or paper record of the results.
Only licensed fire protection technicians may conduct annual fire extinguisher inspections; however, monthly inspections may be done by anyone who has received training to do so.
Read more about the importance of properly maintaining your fire extinguishers here.
The NFPA 10 also requires that fire extinguishers undergo a through annual examination by a qualified fire protection technician. This inspection will look at the extinguisher’s mechanical parts, as well as making sure that it is properly filled with the correct extinguishing agent.
Annual inspections include:
- Making sure the extinguisher is in good condition to operate properly.
- Ensuring that the extinguisher has met all monthly inspection requirements.
- Conductivity test for all hose and carbon dioxide assemblies.
- Checking tags, safety seals, HMIS label, and pressure gauge reading.
- Determining 6-year maintenance and 5-year hydrostatic tests.
- Checking hanger/bracing.
- Inspecting nameplate, operating instructions, and extinguisher shell.
- Emptying and recharging all pressure-loaded fire extinguishers.
During all annual inspections, the technician who checks the extinguisher should install new tamper seals and must document the results as per NFPA 10.
Extended Inspections and Testing
Every five years, all carbon dioxide, wet chemical, and foam extinguishers, as well as the cartridges and hoses equipped with shut-off valves that are associated with either portable or wheel extinguishers, must undergo hydrostatic testing.
Meanwhile, NFPA 25, requires that all ABC dry chemical and clean agent fire extinguishers undergo hydrostatic testing every 12 years.
After any extinguisher passes its hydrostatic test, the technician must affix a label to the extinguisher, which displays that monthly and annual inspection have been done, as well as displaying the test pressure that was used and the name of the fire protection service that performed the test.
Because hydrostatic testing requires a lot of expensive testing equipment, not all fire extinguisher dealers will be able to service your unit at the 5 or 12 year intervals and might simply recommend that you purchase a new one.
Therefore, it’s important to find a fire protection company in your area, who can repair and maintain your fire extinguishers, as opposed throwing it out and selling you a new one. Hydrostatic testing may be expensive, but it’s less expensive than purchasing a new fire extinguisher, and it’s much better for the environment as well.
Fire Extinguisher Inspections
As we’ve already mentioned, there are many laws and regulations that govern inspection, testing, and documentation requirements. What we’ve mentioned here today is only the tip of iceberg when it comes to the laws that govern fire safety in the Vancouver area.
These laws can be a bit complex and overwhelming. So, rather than going over all requirements for fire extinguishing equipment, we strongly advise that you speak to a reputable fire safety and protection service in your area.