Fire Extinguisher Maintenance and Regulations

Fire Extinguisher Maintenance & RegulationsAll UK businesses have a legal requirement to carry out a fire risk assessment within their buildings. This is regardless of the size of the building as government guidelines suggest that even a shop with only one room should have a least one powder extinguisher.

Nearly all business and non domestic premises have to adhere to the UK fire safety regulations which covers a wide range of building types, spaces and structures such as shops, factories, warehouses, offices, bed and breakfasts, hotels, hostels, hospitals, care homes, places of worship, shared areas of properties (HMO’s), community areas, restaurants, pubs, nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, schools, outdoor events and leisure centres.

Also employers must make sure that their employee’s have the correct equipment to extinguish a fire within the workplace. Fire extinguishers also have to be serviced every year to the correct standard under BS 5306 part 3 and maintained to be in good working order in between the annual services. It’s advised that a workplace carries out their own checks every month.

Responsibility

The law will apply to you if your:

✓ In control of the premises

✓ An employer or self-employed person

✓ Responsible for any part of a building that is used for business purposes

✓ A voluntary or charity organisation

✓ A contractor who is responsible for the building maintenance

✓ Providing accommodation for paying guests

✓ The owner or the agent who manages flats in England and Wales

Monthly Inspection

Firstly check for any signs of tampering such as broken or missing tamper seals. Check for any signs of agent discharge on the hose or horn of the extinguisher. Check to make sure gauge pressure is correct, if not the pointer will be in the red. Look for any damage such as missing parts, dents or rust. Extra attention should be given to workplaces with a high risk of damage such as fire extinguisher that are on haulage vehicles. If there is damage to the extinguisher, this must be repaired by a competent individual or company or replaced straight away.

Competent Person

The three maintenance procedures, basic, extended service and overhaul, should be carried out by a ‘Competent Person’. The definition of a competent person as presented by the British Standard is “A person with the necessary training and experience, with access to the relevant tools, equipment and information, manuals and knowledge of any special procedures recommended by the manufacturer of the portable extinguisher, to carry out the relevant maintenance procedures”. It’s recommended to either use a BFC (British Fire Consortium) or BAFE (British Approvals for Fire Equipment) registered company which employs qualified technicians, who carry out refresher training every 3 years to keep up to date with the latest knowledge and regulations.

Annual Service

The extinguisher technician will carry out a range of procedures, depending on the type of fire extinguisher. The procedures involved include checking all extinguisher parts such as valves, gauges and tamper seals, checking the pressure and weight is correct and issuing a ‘Certificate of Inspection’ which is a legal record of any maintenance carried out on the fire extinguishers.

Extended Service / Overhaul

An extended service involves testing the discharge, checking the internal and external body casing, refilling and recharging with nitrogen. BS 5306 part 3 states that water, foam, powder and wet chemical extinguishers require an extended service every five years. CO2 extinguishers only need a ‘Basic Service’ every year and after ten years the hydraulics must be tested and refilled. After this has been completed, the extinguisher is stamped with a recharge date and it’s fit for use for another ten years.

The majority of companies carry out a service exchange for old co2 and powder fire extinguishers. They will exchange the old extinguisher for a new or refurbished unit. However it is usually more cost efficient to replace the extinguisher with a new one instead of refurbishing or exchanging the extinguisher.

Overview of Service Intervals

EXTINGUISHER TYPE

Water
CO2
Foam
Powder
Wet Chemical

BASIC SERVICE

12 Months
12 Months
12 Months
12 Months
12 Months

EXTENDED SERVICE / OVERHAUL

Every 5 Years
Overhaul Every 10 Years
Every 5 Years
Every 5 Years
Every 5 Years