Fire extinguishers will not last forever. All fire extinguishers will expire at some point but there is not always a strict expiration date. As the first line of defense for a fire, it is important that you make sure your extinguishers are still functional and well maintained.
How Long Do Fire Extinguishers Last?
The lifespan of a fire extinguisher varies based on a few factors including:
- Type of fire extinguisher
- Whether the extinguisher is disposable or rechargeable
- How well the extinguisher is maintained
- The date it was manufactured
- Manufacturer recommendations
According to NFPA standards, disposable fire extinguishers need to be replaced every 12 years and rechargeable fire extinguishers must be recharged every 6 years. A disposable fire extinguisher has a plastic head with a gauge that reads “full” or “empty”. Rechargeable extinguishers have a metal head with a gauge that reads “charge” or “recharge”.
How Do You Know If Your Extinguisher Needs to be Replaced?
Some extinguishers have a recommended replacement date set by the manufacturer. However, there are many extinguishers without strict expiration dates which can make it hard to tell if when it should be replaced. Every month, you should do a visual check of your fire extinguishers to make sure that they are still functional. Some things you should look out for include:
- Depressurization – Many extinguishers have pressure gauges. If your extinguisher’s gauge needle falls out of the green zone, it is time to replace it. Fire extinguishers that are depressurized are inoperable.
- Signs of Damage – If you see any signs or damage, loose pieces, rust, or corrosion on your extinguisher, it may not function properly and could need to be replaced.
- Failed Hydrostatic Test – A fire extinguisher service provider can perform hydrostatic testing to measure the integrity of the cylinder of your extinguisher. If your fire extinguisher fails the test, it must be replaced immediately.
Certain types of fire extinguishers are now considered obsolete as regulations change or technology advances. NFPA guidelines dictate which types of extinguishers should be removed from service. If you have an older fire extinguisher, you should consult with an experienced fire protection provider to determine whether it is obsolete.
Regular Maintenance of Extinguishers Can Extend Lifespan
Getting your fire extinguishers inspected, tested, and serviced according to NFPA and manufacturer recommendations can help to extend the lifespan of your equipment. Hiring an experienced professional such as Midwest Fire & Safety can help to keep your extinguishers functional and code compliant. Midwest Fire & Safety provides annual inspections, 6-year maintenance and hydrostatic testing of fire extinguishers. We serve commercial and industrial operations in Mitchell, Pierre, and central South Dakota. Contact us today to learn more.