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Is Using an Expired Extinguisher Dangerous?

Hopefully, the usage of fire extinguishers is not a common event, but it is always useful to know when it is time to get your fire extinguisher checked over, for various reasons.

Although fire extinguishers don’t actually have expiry dates and don’t technically become expired, extinguishers can require recharging after a certain amount of time or need further maintenance for continued safe operation… but this only usually an option for newer extinguishers (less than five years old). The other option is replacement – this costs roughly the same amount as recharging an extinguisher and can provide your equipment with a new lease of life. The best way to check if your extinguisher needs recharging or replacing is to ensure regular inspections are carried out, preferably by a qualified fire safety company.

Your fire extinguisher will start to show signs of wear and tear once it is nearing the end of its useful life or it is in need of repair. Look out for the following issues on a regular basis:

  • Broken or weakened seal around the neck of the extinguisher – this can result in the compressed air escaping, which will reduce the pressure in the extinguisher, meaning it will not work properly.
  • Powder settling – the chemical powder can settle at the bottom of your extinguisher, getting packed into place.
  • Damage to the nozzle – cracks or blockages will affect the functionality of your extinguisher.
  • The pin is missing or unsealed.
  • Damage to the handle.
  • If the inspection tag cannot be found, do not attempt to use the extinguisher – contact a professional fire protection company to inspect it first.

If your fire extinguisher is beyond repair and you need to dispose of it, you cannot just throw it in the bin like most waste. There are certain steps you need to take to safely dispose of them as they contain pressurised chemicals that can be very hazardous without the proper care. If your fire extinguisher still contains powder, contact your local fire department to see if they will take it from you. If not, seek out your nearest registered hazardous waste disposal site.

For empty extinguishers, squeeze the handle to ensure all pressure is released, remove the head to signify it is empty, and then take it to your nearest steel recycling facility.

Here at City Fire Protection, we offer the installation, repair and maintenance of a wide range of fire safety equipment, including fire extinguishers. If you need your extinguishers replaced or repaired, get in touch with us today and we’ll be more than happy to help.

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