The Importance of Fire Extinguishers & Regular Maintenance Checks

Posted: 21.06.2024

Fire extinguishers are a essential element of fire safety measures in any building, providing a crucial first line of defence against small fires. Their presence can significantly reduce the risk of fire-related injuries and property damage. However, the effectiveness of fire extinguishers depends not only on having the right type available but also on ensuring they are properly maintained.

Common Fire Extinguisher Issues and the Importance of Addressing Them

Ensuring your fire extinguishers are in optimal working condition is crucial for maintaining fire safety. Here are the top five common issues and why it’s vital to address them:

  • Corrosion and Rust: Over time, the bottoms of fire extinguisher bottles can rust, leading to leaks and compromised integrity. This can render the extinguisher ineffective in an emergency.
  • Clogged Nozzles: Partially deployed extinguishers can have leftover extinguishing agents in the hose, causing clogs. This blockage can prevent the extinguisher from functioning properly when needed.
  • Pressure Loss: Fire extinguishers may lose pressure due to partial deployment or prolonged non-use. Without adequate pressure, the extinguisher cannot discharge the agent effectively to combat a fire.
  • Seal and Gasket Deterioration: The seals and gaskets within extinguishers can degrade over time, particularly if they are exposed to harsh environmental conditions. This degradation can lead to leaks and malfunction.
  • Exposure to Harsh Environments: Fire extinguishers that are stored in extreme temperatures or exposed to corrosive environments can lose pressure and suffer mechanical failure. Proper storage is essential to maintain their readiness.

Fire extinguishers must be in optimal working condition to be effective in an emergency, so addressing these issues through regular inspections and maintenance is crucial. Routine inspections help ensure that extinguishers are fully charged, free of damage, and ready for use. Failure to maintain fire extinguishers can result in them failing when they are needed most, putting lives and property at risk.

Compliance with Regulations

The number of fire extinguishers required in a commercial building in the UK is determined by several factors, primarily governed by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and British Standard BS 5306. Each floor of a commercial building should have at least two Class A fire extinguishers unless the premises are very small, in which case one may suffice. Buildings with electrical equipment must have CO2 extinguishers. Specific extinguishers such as wet chemical for kitchens with deep-fat fryers, and dry powder for areas with gas risks, may also be required depending on the building’s risk profile.

Extinguishers should be easily accessible and visible, typically near exits and fire alarm points. The 30-meter rule states that no person should be more than 30 meters away from a Class A extinguisher on any given floor. Subsequently, extinguishers must be securely mounted on walls or stands and clearly signposted with identification signs to ensure they are easily found and correctly used during an emergency.

In the UK, fire safety regulations mandate regular maintenance of fire safety equipment. According to the Fire Safety Regulations 2022 and the guidelines from BAFE (British Approvals for Fire Equipment), fire extinguishers must undergo a basic service every year, extended services every five to ten years (depending on the type of extinguisher) and overhaul (hydraulic test) every ten years. Non-compliance can lead to legal repercussions, including fines and increased liability in the event of a fire.

At CDS, we offer extensive fire extinguisher services, from sourcing the correct extinguisher for you, to installing, servicing and even staff training so you can be confident you are always compliant.

Prolonging Equipment Lifespan

Regular maintenance extends the life of fire extinguishers, reducing the need for premature replacements. This not only saves costs but also ensures that fire safety measures remain reliable over time. Proper maintenance includes checking the pressure gauge, inspecting for physical damage, and ensuring the extinguisher is easily accessible and not obstructed.

Early Detection of Issues

Routine checks help detect and address issues before they escalate. For example, signs of corrosion, leakage, or a missing safety pin can be identified and rectified during inspections. This proactive approach minimises the risk of equipment failure during an emergency.

Safety Training and Awareness

Part of maintaining fire safety equipment involves training personnel on how to use fire extinguishers effectively. Trained personnel should understand the different classes of fire extinguishers (e.g., A for ordinary combustibles, B for flammable liquids, C for electrical fires, etc.) and how to operate them using the PASS technique (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep). This knowledge can make a significant difference in an emergency as it is the first line of defence.

Detailed Record Keeping

Maintaining detailed records of all inspections, tests, and maintenance activities is vital. These records demonstrate compliance with fire safety regulations and provide a valuable history of maintenance activities, which can be useful for audits and in case of an emergency.

How CDS Can Help with Fire Extinguisher Maintenance and Services

At CDS, we understand the critical role that fire extinguishers play in ensuring the safety of your premises. To keep your fire safety measures effective, we offer comprehensive fire extinguisher maintenance and services tailored to meet your needs.

Our Services Include:

Regular Inspections and Maintenance

  • Monthly Visual Inspections: We provide thorough monthly visual inspections to check for any obvious signs of damage, ensure the pressure gauge is in the correct range, and verify the accessibility of the extinguisher.
  • Annual Professional Maintenance: Our certified technicians conduct detailed annual maintenance checks, including internal inspections, pressure testing, and recharging if necessary, to comply with regulatory standards.

Compliance with Regulations

  • Adherence to UK Fire Safety Regulations: We ensure that all our services comply with the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 and guidelines from authoritative bodies including BAFE; a credible independent register for fire safety organisations for the UK. This compliance helps you avoid legal issues and ensures your building meets safety standards.
  • Documentation and Record Keeping: We provide comprehensive documentation of all inspections and maintenance activities, helping you maintain accurate records for audits and safety reviews.

Training and Support

  • User Training: We offer training sessions to help your staff understand the different types of fire extinguishers and how to use them effectively using the PASS technique (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep).
  • Emergency Preparedness: Our training also includes emergency response protocols to ensure your team is prepared to handle fire emergencies efficiently.

Equipment Supply and Installation

  • Supply of Fire Extinguishers: We supply a range of fire extinguishers suitable for various types of fires, covering a range of Classes. All of our extinguishers are EN3 approved and carry the British Kite Mark.
  • Proper Installation: CDS ensures that fire extinguishers are correctly installed in accessible and strategic locations as per the manufacturer’s guidelines and regulatory requirements.

Advanced Maintenance Programs

  • Custom Maintenance Schedules: We create customised maintenance schedules that fit your specific needs, whether it’s monthly, quarterly, or annual inspections.
  • State-of-the-Art Equipment: Our technicians use the latest tools and techniques to provide the highest standards of maintenance and safety.

Fire extinguishers are essential for safeguarding lives and property, but their effectiveness hinges on regular maintenance and proper use. Building owners and managers must prioritise routine inspections and professional maintenance to ensure fire extinguishers are always ready for use. By adhering to fire safety regulations and investing in regular checks, you can protect your premises and occupants from the devastating effects of fire. By choosing CDS for your fire extinguisher maintenance and services, you can rest assured that your fire safety equipment is reliable, compliant, and ready to perform in an emergency. Our dedication to safety and compliance ensures that your premises are protected, and your staff is well-prepared to handle fire emergencies.

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