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  • Home fire extinguishers

    I was wondering how often a homeowner should service his fire extinguisher. My fire marshal said every 2-3 years would be fine, but I confess I was hoping he was going to say something more like 5-10.

    I know that businesses in our township are required to service theirs every year, but I assumed that was overkill because of their stricter insurance regulations. (And also because they never seem to recharge them after use.)

    I guess I'm resigned to the fact the they aren't going to last forever, but I think it's going to be difficult to persuade someone to either throw away (the little disposable models) or take in for servicing something in their home that often, when it looks exactly the same as the day they took it out of the box.

    Although, I have to wonder, exactly what is going on inside that extinguisher that causes it not to work? The material doesn't really age, is there corrosion at work?

  • #2
    If you are going to follow the NFPA Standards, a dry powder extinguisher is SUPPOSED to be visually inspected monthly, annually inspected by a "certified" service person, blow-down (full service) tested every 6 years and then hydrostatically tested every 12 years.

    A CO-2 requires monthly visual inspection, annual inspection by a "certified" service person and a hydrostatic test every 6 years.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks, that's what I was looking for. Not bad for your first post either.


      I also got this from Kidde:

      From: [email protected] [mailto:[email protected]]
      Sent: Tuesday, February 20, 2001 01:33 pm
      To: Paylor, Stephen
      Subject: Re: Web site lead

      Daily replacement would be nice...but even we would not recommend that- the
      reality is as follows:

      Kidde gauged rechargeable and non-rechargeable extinguishers have a 6 year
      warranty and a typical life in excess of 12 years. The gauge on
      non-rechargeable extinguishers indicates "discard" in the region of the
      gauge that displays a low pressure reading (red). We recommend that these
      extinguisher be checked visibly once a month to ensure that the pressure
      level is in the green section on the gauge. Kidde non-gauged (pindicator
      push to test units), non-rechargeable extinguishers have a 2 year warranty
      and a typical life in excess of 10 years. We recommend that these
      extinguisher be physically checked monthly by pressing pindicator to
      verify that it returns to position indicating the pressure level is at the
      required level.

      In addition, depending on installation location the exterior of the entire
      unit should be looked at periodically for dents, chips or corrosion. We
      recommend that non-rechargeble extinguishers, older then the ages listed
      above, be replaced.

      If your fire extinguisher is showing a reduced charge or if it s beyond the
      recommend life spans listed below you can safely discard it with your trash
      by following the steps below:

      Standard dry chemical fire extinguishers can be safely discarded as
      follows:

      1- move to an outside area away from cars and other property. (To avoid
      fire fighting agent from coating any property). The agents used are
      harmless, but can be irritating if inhaled and can result in a dust-like
      coating on items.
      2- pull pin on extinguisher
      3- turn extinguisher upside down. (this will minimize the amount of
      fire-fighting agent discharged)
      4- face extinguisher away from yourself into an open area
      5- squeeze handle and hold until discharge stops.


      It is now safe to dispose of the fire extinguisher with your regular
      refuse.


      Ed Faust
      Business Manager, Fire Extinguisher Products
      Kidde Safety




      [email protected]
      To: [email protected], [email protected]
      cc:
      02/20/01 Subject: Web site lead
      01:18 PM



      E-mail: [email protected]
      Name: Steve Paylor
      Daytime Phone: ( ) -
      Comments: I am wondering how often home fire
      extinguishers should be serviced. I know you sell them so you're probably
      tempted to tell me to replace them daily, but I'm not sure who else to
      really ask.

      I thought the small disposable units ( less than five pounds) ought to be
      good for five years, if not longer.


      Comment


      • #4
        As a part time employee of a fire equipment company that services extinguishers as well as a career firefighter for a gov't agency that maintains literally THOUSANDS of extinguishers, it is written policy that any extinguishers with plastic valves do NOT get recharged. Period. We follow all NFPA guidelines regarding 6 year maintenance as well as hydrotesting.

        As for what can happen- Dry chem is extremely corrosive, which is an addtional reason for testing these types of pressure vessels. I have also seen dry chem "caked" inside an extinguisher when some moisture was introduced into it somehow.

        ------------------
        "Loyalty above all else, except honor."

        Comment


        • #5
          Engine69, you may want to double check NFPA 10, CO2 extinguishers are hydro tested every 5 years due to high pressure. As for what goes on inside the extinguisher regarding dry chemical. The chemical can cake due to moisture as ArmyTruckCompany suggested but new chemical from the manufacture also arrives caked. The reason is time and vibration. As the chemical sits or is vibrated it settles, hence caking. If you do monthly checks like Engine69 suggested, invert the extinguisher and using a rubber mallet (or you hand) tap on the bottom of the extinguisher. You will feel or hear the chemical release and drop. Personally I have absolutely no use for the plastic head extinguishers. Most are designed to be tossed and have a short service life whereas a metal headed extinguisher can have a service life of 30+ years. Steve and I discussed this previously but as far as I'm concerned the little bit you pay for yearly service (private or commercial) is well spent since you know the extinguisher will work if needed. Before I started doing this for a living I never touched my personal extinguishers, now I check them several times a year.

          ------------------
          Train like you want to fight.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by FFWALT:
            Engine69, you may want to double check NFPA 10, CO2 extinguishers are hydro tested every 5 years due to high pressure
            Yep.. My bad.. I stand corrected. I get so caught up in the 6 year rotation for the dry powders, I forgot the CO-2s are 5 years (we have almost 1000 extinguishers where I work that I am partially responsible for...).

            Thanks for pointing out my mistake!

            Comment


            • #7
              It's Kinda off the subject, but here goes.
              Regarding Kidde's way of disposing extinguishers:
              "1- move to an outside area away from cars and other property. (To avoid
              fire fighting agent from coating any property). The agents used are
              harmless, but can be irritating if inhaled and can result in a dust-like
              coating on items.
              2- pull pin on extinguisher
              3- turn extinguisher upside down. (this will minimize the amount of
              fire-fighting agent discharged)
              4- face extinguisher away from yourself into an open area
              5- squeeze handle and hold until discharge stops.


              It is now safe to dispose of the fire extinguisher with your regular
              refuse."

              If it's so safe to just discharge it why do they (Manufacturers) require respiratory protection well beyond dust masks. Also why does the EPA require you to label it as HAZ-Mat to fet rid of it?
              Of course the answer to my question is probably the amount we have to get rid of. I work on a military base FD and service enough to fill a 55 gallon reclamation drum a month.

              Comment

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