Why do you need a fire extinguisher service? It is every company’s legal obligation to ensure that their firefighting equipment is checked regularly and serviced annually.
Firefighting equipment refers to fire extinguishers, hose reels and hydrants and all these items need to be serviced by a SABS accredited firefighting equipment servicing company, which has registered SAQCC servicing technicians. A fire extinguisher service is absolutely essential, as not only is it a legal requirement, but extinguishers play such a crucial part in putting fires out before they get out of hand, it’s vital that they work when needed. With proper servicing and maintenance carried out on a regular basis, fire extinguishers and hose reels should last for up to between 5-15 years before they need replacing.
Fire extinguishers are the most common item used, as they can be lifted off the wall and taken to the fire quickly.
Fire extinguishers service should be conducted frequently:
- When delivered (commissioning service by a supplier)
- Monthly (on site by a designated person such as a fire warden)
- Annually (by a professional SABS accredited company)
Commissioning fire extinguisher service
This is an initial fire extinguisher service to check for any signs of damage, but the brand new units should be sound and operational for the next year.
Monthly fire extinguisher service
It’s highly recommended to carry out a regular fire extinguisher service on a monthly or quarterly basis. This just double checks that the extinguisher is in good working condition, as it should between annual services. These assessments can be undertaken by a designated member of the health and safety team, such as the fire warden or any staff member. Records should be kept of each inspection in a special log book.
Things to look out for when carrying out a monthly or quarterly fire extinguisher service check:
- The extinguisher has no visible signs of damage, wear and tear.
- It is installed in the correct place it was intended and easily visible if needed.
- The needle of the extinguishers pressure gauge is in the green zone, which means it is pressurized and should work fine.
- Anti-tamper seals are present and have not been broken.
- Appropriate labelling and operating instructions are on the extinguisher.
How can you tell if a fire extinguisher needs servicing or replacing?
If you discover any of the following during your fire extinguisher inspection you should consult a professional servicing company who will need to service and repair or replace the faulty extinguisher:
- The extinguisher is damaged, e.g. a hose or nozzle is cracked, ripped or blocked.
- If the handle is wobbly or broken.
- The pressure gauge needle is outside of the green zone, which means the extinguisher has lost pressure and will need servicing immediately.
- The locking pin is missing or anti-tamper seal is broken.
- Appropriate labelling and operating instructions are missing.
All firefighting equipment (extinguishers, hose reels and hydrants) should be labelled with details of their last inspection, when it took place, when it expires and who was the SAQCC registered servicing technician. If this label is not present, make sure that you contact a SABS registered company immediately to conduct the service.
Annual fire extinguisher service
The most detailed and thorough examination of your firefighting equipment will take place during its annual servicing. This will need to be carried out by a qualified and certified professional. Within annual servicing, the extinguisher may be due for a major service, during which the extinguisher will need to be emptied and the inside will be inspected before it is then refilled and pressurized. After the service, the label must be replaced with the new date maintenance took place, the new weight of the extinguisher, the SAQCC technician who carried out the service, when the next test is due.
What happens if your fire extinguisher is not serviced?
- You will miss or it will be difficult to see external and internal damages or blockages: Over time, damage or deterioration can occur internally and its hard to see these internal areas. For example, corosion of the aluminium or steel extinguishers can occur on the inside weakening the integrity of the cylinder over time. The hose may be blocked: Another difficult to see a problem is potential blockage or damage to the hose. Insects or other debris can get stuck in the hose, impairing functionality. The O-rings on the hose can also deteriorate and compromise the extinguisher.
- There may be slow leaks: Subtle leaks can occur that could render the extinguisher useless. Some extinguishers have pressure gauges so that you can check, but not all have them, so leaks may be hard to detect.
- Wear to vital labels: Even when not used, extinguishers still experience general wear and tear over time, especially if they are outdoors or in an active warehouse setting. One possible effect of this wear can be fading, illegible service labels and these labels contain important instructions and information.
- They may need recharging: If any extinguishers were used, even partially, they will need to be recharged immediately after use to ensure they are ready to be used again in the future.
Fire fighting training courses and firefighting equipment is essential items in every company premises, there to safeguard the employees, the company assets and visitors. Please ensure that your company has sufficient firefighting equipment and that it is checked monthly and serviced annually, by an accredited company such as Absolute Health Services and its partner company First Aid Fire and Safety Training.
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About us: Absolute Health Services (AHS) offer tailored Health and Safety Files, conduct company Health and Safety Compliance Assessments as well as detailed Health and Safety Risk Assessments. We offer accredited Health and Safety (H&S) training, ensuring that our clients receive current, professional and quality training. All our training instructors are paramedics registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa and have extensive practical operational experience and have specialised in First Aid, Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), Firefighting and H&S training. Our training courses contain the latest theoretical course content and extensive practical content and scenario training, thereby ensuring both theoretical and practical exposure. Absolute Health Services has a team of Health and Safety graduates and practitioners that are able to assist organisations in implementing a holistic, logical and successful Health and Safety management service within their unique working environment.