How long is the fire extinguisher life span & how to extend it?

The fire extinguisher life span isn’t a topic that most regular people would need to know about but if you’ve found yourself in charge of the fire safety of a building, you definitely should. As a responsible person, you’ve probably been going through all sorts of information about fire extinguishers from what types of extinguishers there are to how often you need to get a fire extinguisher serviced and even how to protect your fire extinguishers from vandalism. You may have also thought about where to buy a fire extinguisher or if you need to buy a new one to replace your old one. 

So, after having learned so much about fire extinguishers already, the next step is to find out what the average fire extinguisher life expectancy is, whether there’s anything you can do to extend it and whether your fire extinguisher will pass its next safety inspection. 

Luckily, we are here to give you all the answers you need! 

Fire Extinguisher Life Expectancy

Nothing lasts forever, including fire extinguishers. Even if it hasn’t been used a fire extinguisher has to be replaced after a certain amount of time. Generally speaking, they don’t have an expiration date and whether a fire extinguisher is still good for use depends on various factors including the product quality, the environment it’s in and how it has been maintained. 

That being said, even the highest quality extinguishers should not be older than 20 years. According to the current UK fire safety regulations, it’s recommended that fire extinguishers should be replaced every 5 years. CO2 fire extinguishers make an exception to this rule – they are expected to be operational twice longer and should be replaced every 10 years. 

Reasons to service/replace a fire extinguisher sooner 

Damaged fire extinguishers also need to be serviced and potentially replaced, regardless of their age, as they would no longer be considered safe to use. Wondering how to find out that something’s wrong with a fire extinguisher? Here are some of the most common problems that can occur and that can easily be spotted by someone who is not a trained fire safety engineer: 

  • Missing safety pin
  • Cracks, rust, bumps on the canister 
  • Missing inspection tag 
  • Broken or missing tamper seal
  • Cracked, broken or ripped hose
  • Cracked, broken or missing nozzle
  • Any other visible damage to the outer shell 

Another thing to keep in mind is that fire extinguishers have to be refilled/replaced after every use, regardless of their age. 

How to extend a fire extinguisher’s life span

Like every other product, your fire extinguisher needs regular maintenance in order to function well longer. If not taken care of, your fire protection equipment can degrade over time and get damaged as described above. Regular maintenance by a professional ensures that potential issues are spotted and corrected before they cause a serious problem and spares you the trouble of having to buy a new extinguisher earlier than expected. 

Only certified fire safety engineers can carry out these inspections and, under the Fire Safety Order 2005, if you are the responsible person for any property, you must book a fire extinguisher service at least once a year. In addition to that, if you want to extend the lifespan of an extinguisher, you must have extensive fire extinguisher maintenance performed every five years.

For more information on what a fire safety engineer is looking for when testing a fire extinguisher and what should be included in your service and maintenance, check out our fire extinguisher maintenance and servicing guide

How do you dispose of expired fire extinguishers?

If your fire extinguisher has reached the end of its life span, you will have to dispose of it. The good news is that fire extinguishers are largely recyclable. The bad news is that you can’t simply put a fire extinguisher in your usual recycling bin, as it is considered hazardous waste. 

You have a couple of options on how to get rid of an old fire extinguisher. First, you can call the local fire department or fire protection company to ask if you can drop it off there. Fire safety professionals will have usual channels set up to dispose of out-of-date fire extinguishers. However, your local companies may not offer such services. 

If that’s the case, you can take your old fire extinguisher to the nearest hazardous waste disposal facility or a large household recycling waste disposal facility. Always give them a ring first to see if there are any special requirements on how you should prepare the extinguisher for safe disposal. 

If your fire extinguisher has been discharged and it’s empty, you could take it to a steel recycling centre, if you have one nearby. However, you must check if they offer the service and if they do, you should make sure to release any leftover pressure by pressing the lever to ensure the extinguisher really is empty before you drop it off. 

Need to have a fire extinguisher serviced anywhere in the West Midlands? Book your fire extinguisher servicing, whether it’s your service, your 5-year service or an emergency service, with the fire safety specialist Cardinal Fire Protection. Simply give us a call on 0845 130 8211 or email us at sales@cardinalfire.net