Intruder Alarm Systems SSAIB Certificated Company

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Fire Extinguishers

Fire Extinguisher maintenance: Your business and the law

Current fire regulations under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 state that all fir safety equipment must be "maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair."

Fire extinguisher maintenance includes checking for exhausted extinguishers that may not have been reported as used, checking that anti-tamper tags are in place, and that the fire extinguishers themselves are physically in good condition and ready for use - you'd be amazed how many safety pins get bent and stuck in place without being spotted!

The British Standard 5306 part 3 requires that maintenance of all your fire extinguishers is conducted by a "competent person". If you do not have such a fully trained service engineer in-house, you should employ an external maintenance contractor or a fire extinguisher replacement service.

What is best for my business, fire extinguisher maintenance or replacement?

We all know time is money, and fire extinguisher maintenance is a time-consuming business - and potentially a messy one too. Discharge tests can leave you with used foam or powder onsite, to be disposed of at your cost, and annual inspections can involve extinguisher engineers on site at your business for hours at a time.

A fire extinguisher replacement service is quite common these days. Instead of checking your extinguishers on site, your existing fire extinguishers are simply exchanged for fully tested and maintained refurbished fire extinguishers. There is no involved checking on site, any messy discharge tests, and minimal disruption to your business.

What if my fire extinguishers are "unfit for service" (UFS)?

Fire extinguishers do have a limited life span, due to the corrosive and pressurised contents. Seals can fail and welds corrode, and although regular fire extinguisher maintenance can spot these problems early, there may come a time when your fire extinguisher will need to be completely removed from service.

A fire extinguisher replacement programme should ensure that none of your fire extinguishers reach this state, but if they do, any UFS extinguishers should be replaced with new ones. Most extinguishers would be expected to last for 10 years but some are of lower quality and there is nothing more frustrating than having to replace an item one year after a costly service visit. Always get an on-the-spot price before approving.

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