All About Fire Extinguisher Testing and Checks

Fire extinguishers are an essential part of any commercial building’s fire safety equipment.  To keep your extinguishers operational longer, you need to learn how to take care of them from conducting regular fire extinguisher testing and checks to organising fire extinguisher servicing and maintenance to be carried out by a competent person.

Today, we’ll look at the fire extinguisher testing that needs to be done in order to ensure that your workplace fire safety is up to the latest regulatory requirements in the UK.

Why is fire extinguisher testing important? 

There are three main reasons to do fire extinguisher checks at work:

  1. It’s the law

As per the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the BS 5306 (see BS 5306 summary here), regular fire extinguisher testing, servicing and maintenance are mandatory requirements for ensuring fire safety at work. Non-compliance can lead to substantial fines and even jail time if someone gets injured as a result of a fire incident at work where a faulty fire extinguisher was involved.

  1. Fire extinguishers last longer

Regular fire extinguisher testing can increase your fire extinguisher life span. Under UK regulations, it is recommended that fire extinguishers are either replaced every five years (CO2 fire extinguishers should, ideally, be replaced every 10 years) or have an extended service conducted on them at this point, to confirm their usage integrity.

  1. It can save lives

A simple fire extinguisher check can make the difference between life and death in a real fire situation. If issues with the fire protection equipment go unnoticed, this could lead to serious harm either because the extinguisher has malfunctioned and hurt the user or because it has failed to discharge and stop the fire, placing everyone in more danger.

How Often Should Fire Extinguishers Be Inspected? 

If you are responsible for fire safety at work, you should ensure that all fire extinguishers are in good working order, by carrying out monthly and annual fire extinguisher checks.

Visual checks should be done at least once per month by the fire marshal in the building to ensure that there’s no visible damage to the equipment. Annual fire extinguisher inspection, on the other hand, requires more specialised knowledge and so they are conducted by a fire safety specialist.

Monthly Fire Extinguisher Testing

When you conduct your monthly visual inspections of all in-use fire extinguishers on the premises, there are several key things to pay attention to:

  • Broken/missing lock pins, tamper protection and seals
  • Broken or unstable handles
  • Missing, damaged or out of date service labels
  • Blocked, cracked or torn hose/nozzle
  • Accessibility of fire extinguisher – unobstructed and with clear, legible operating instructions
  • A full feeling extinguisher with a green pressure dial
  • Various other indicators of damage, such as leaking, corrosion or signs of tampering

Annual Inspection of Fire Extinguishers

In addition to your usual monthly checks, a competent fire safety engineer should carry out fire extinguisher testing at least once per year. They will perform a full maintenance check of all fire extinguishers in the building.

As soon as the fire extinguisher has passed the annual service, it will receive a passing tag and be dated. This is used as evidence that you have complied with the legal requirements and also as a reminder to schedule your next inspection on time.

If damages are identified, the fire safety specialist can repair those if possible. However, if the engineer discovers irreparable damages, you must buy a new fire extinguisher to replace the old one.

During the annual fire extinguisher checks, a professional inspector will not merely check the equipment, but will usually be reviewing the placement and structural integrity of the mounting stand/brackets. They will also assess whether your fire extinguishers are (still) a suitable solution for the potential fire hazards in the area where they are located.

Don’t Forget Record Keeping

Record keeping is extremely important to all aspects of fire safety and fire extinguisher testing makes no exception. Every time a monthly visual check is made, this should be logged, including any relevant details of faults that have been discovered.

The same applies to annual checks –  these should be thoroughly documented and you should make sure these records are kept safe for at least 10 years. You may need to access these and present them as evidence of your compliance activities if requested to do so by the authorities in the event of a fire incident at work.

Who Should Carry Out Annual Fire Extinguisher Testing?

To ensure regulatory compliance, you should use a BAFE-registered fire extinguisher engineer to conduct your annual inspections. As an independent third-party organisation for the fire safety sector, they verify businesses and their competency in fire protection services.

Fire Extinguisher Testing With Cardinal Fire

Here, at Cardinal Fire Protection, we are BAFE-accredited, so rest assured that any fire extinguisher inspections conducted by our engineers will be up to the highest standards. Learn more about our fire extinguishers servicing options or get in touch on 0845 130 8211 or at sales@cardinalfire.net to book your annual fire extinguishers check today.