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7 Step Guide to Checking Your Fire Extinguishers

Ensuring your business is compliant with fire legislation is, as we all know, of paramount importance. Industry news is full of businesses facing legal action due to fire safety breaches, and major fires resulting in fatalities such as the recent SP Fireworks factory in Staffordshire where two workers lost their lives, only serves to highlight the importance of being fire compliant.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO) requires businesses by law to safeguard the safety of people within the property in the event of a fire. The ‘Responsible Person’ must “ensure that the premises and any facilities, equipment and devices provided in respect of the premises …are subject to a suitable system of maintenance and are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair”.

Checking your fire safety equipment is properly maintained is just a small but significant part of ensuring compliance. Fire extinguishers should be checked monthly and if your company employs more than 5 people, the details should be recorded in a log book for inspection by the Fire Services Inspectorate. This is in addition to annual servicing which should be carried out by a qualified engineer. The Responsible Person should also ensure that any corrective issues arising from the monthly checks are actioned and completed.

To complete your monthly visual checks correctly simply follow the 7 steps below:

1. Is it visible? 

You need to check that each extinguisher is correctly located in the designated place with the relevant signage.

2. Is is easily accessible?  

It’s critical that an extinguisher can be reached in the event of an emergency. Is each extinguisher unobstructed and visible?

3. Can it be operated easily?

In an emergency you don’t want to be looking for instructions on how to use. Ensure the operating instructions of each extinguisher are clean, legible and facing outwards.

4. Is there any physical damage? 

Check each extinguisher has not been operated and is not obviously damaged or has any missing parts. Fire extinguishers can easily be damaged by dropping or simply moving them around. Also check for and corrosion or other age-related damage.

5. Check the pressure  

Ensure the reading of any pressure gauge or indicator fitted to an extinguisher is within operational and safety limits. In the majority of fire extinguishers, the correct pressure will be marked in green on the gauge.

6. Check the tamper seal and pull pin 

Extinguishers come with a tamper seal to verify they have not been interfered with. If the seal is broken then someone may have tried to use the extinguisher. If so, it’s time to replace the extinguisher. The pull pin should be located in the handle. If this is missing it’s another clear sign the fire extinguisher has been tampered with or used.

7. Track the professional inspections 

Your fire extinguisher should have a tag or label to record annual inspections. Check the extinguisher service label is not out of date and the annual schedule is being maintained.

Following these simple steps every month will help ensure your fire extinguishers are operational in the event of an emergency.

In addition to following the steps above, we have produced a short video below on how to perform your monthly fire extinguisher checks.

Don’t have a log book? To record your monthly fire safety checks, you can download one for FREE from Assured Fire & Security.

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