A guide to Fire Extinguisher servicing

For any kind of business, it’s crucial that a fire extinguisher works without fault the first time. If you’ve got fire extinguishers in place and you’re lucky enough to have never used them before, can you be sure they’re up to the job?

Making sure your fire extinguishers are in good condition keeps your employees reassured that they’re safe at work and ensures you remain legally compliant. To help with this, our specialists have answered your top questions.

What types of fire extinguishers do I need?

There are several different types of fire extinguishers available, and each has a different use. The type of fire extinguisher you need will depend on the nature of your business, so it’s important you familiarise yourself with them all:

  • CO2 extinguisher – used to fight electrical fires
  • Water extinguisher – used on wood, paper, fabrics and other class A fires (fires which involve combustible materials)
  • Foam extinguisher – used to fight class A and class B (flammable liquid) fires such as burning rubber or burning petrol
  • Dry powder extinguishers – used for high-risk areas where a class B or electrical fire has broken out and the area is well vented
  • Wet chemical extinguishers – for kitchens with deep-fat fryers (the sizes of extinguishers will vary depending on the size of your fryers).
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How often should a fire extinguisher be serviced?

Once you’ve established what type of extinguisher you need, a trained and qualified engineer will  then need to assess how often it should be serviced.

Extinguisher TypeFrequency
Fire extinguishersThese need to be serviced annually to make sure they’re in good working order and comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
Water, foam, powder, and wet chemical extinguishersBritish Standard BS5306-3 recommends that these types of extinguishers need either replacing or an extended service every five years.
CO2 fire extinguishersThese extinguishers require a service every 10 years because they’re high-pressure cylinders and are therefore subject to different regulations.

If you’ve had your extinguisher for more than five years, you need to arrange an extended service with an experienced and qualified professional.

However, your CO2 fire extinguishers only need an extended service every ten years unless they’ve been damaged, tampered with, or used. In which case, you’ll need to book an extended service straight away.

What is the British Standard for fire extinguishers?

BS 5306 is the British Standard for fire extinguishing installations and equipment on the premises. This safety standard covers the code of practice for:

  • Commissioning and maintenance of your portable fire extinguishers (BS 5306-3)
  • Selection and positioning of your portable fire extinguishers (BS 5306-8)
  • Recharging of your portable fire extinguishers (BS 5306-9)

Along with the general duty of care, BS 5306 also emphasises the importance of the skills required to carry out fire extinguisher services. So, you need to be confident your chosen fire safety provider meets the mark!

Are there any other legal regulations?

As a business owner, you’re legally obligated under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to make sure you’ve got the right number and types of fire extinguishers in your business, as well as an up-to-date fire extinguisher logbook.

This logbook will be your holy grail to proving your compliance to inspectors and other local authorities. It not only outlines the dates of all your services, but it will include any issues or faults found, along with the dates of your visual inspections.

 

Who can service a fire extinguisher?

Your fire extinguishers are a vital piece of safety equipment, so they should be serviced by someone who holds the right experience, qualifications and training. We understand that when it comes to comparing safety service providers, you’ll be tempted to prioritise the cost of their services but looking at their level of competence should be your number-one priority.

You wouldn’t trust an unrecognised bank with your business’s financial details – so why would you trust a service provider with limited experience with your fire safety?

Without conducting a full background check and doing your research, you’re potentially putting your employees’ lives in danger and putting your business at risk of facing serious legal action. This could come in the form of expensive fines, prosecution, or even immediate closure.

 

What happens during a Fire Extinguisher Service?

A commercial Fire Extinguisher Service will comprise of several checks to make sure that your extinguishers are in full working order and up to the job if you ever need to use them. So they comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the British Safety Standard, your engineer will need to check your extinguishers:

  • Date
  • Pressure
  • Weight
  • Condition
  • Signage
  • Positioning

Your engineer will record the service process and discuss with you any maintenance that needs to be carried out, any immediate replacements, and if you need any more fire extinguishers on your premises.

 

How often should fire extinguishers be inspected by me?

Along with a routine service by your qualified safety provider, a monthly visual inspection should be carried out by your or your business’ responsible person to check the location, condition, tamper seals and pressure gauges of each extinguisher.

BS5306-3 states that “regular visual inspections of all portable fire extinguishers be carried out by the user or user’s representative. The frequency of inspections by the user should be not less than monthly and, when circumstances require, inspections should be carried out more frequently.”

If your monthly visual inspection identifies any damage or a drop in pressure, then we advise you to book a full Fire Extinguisher Service to make sure your extinguishers are in full working order in the event of a fire.

To support you or your responsible person with your monthly visual inspections, you should ask the following questions:

  • Are my fire extinguishers in their correct location and clearly visible?
  • Are operating instructions facing outwards and legible?
  • Has the condition of the fire extinguisher changed through use, damage, or missing parts?
  • Has the extinguisher’s pressure changed and is it within safe operating limits?
  • Have tamper seals been broken or removed?

Once you’ve answered yes or no to these questions, you should then record your findings in your fire logbook and get in touch with us if you need any further support.

 

How many fire extinguishers do I need for my business?

As a rule of thumb, your business should have at least two fire extinguishers per level if your business is spread across several floors. This is so if one of your fire extinguishers is deemed unfit for purpose, you have access to another one should a fire break out.

We strongly recommend consulting us if you’ve got any questions about the number of your business’ extinguishers.

 

Do fire extinguishers have to be wall-mounted?

Fire extinguishers must be in a secure, fixed position – whether that’s wall-mounted or placed on a stand – so they don’t easily dislodge, fall over, or injure somebody.

If you use a bracket to keep your fire extinguishers in a sturdy and upright position, you need to make sure that it’s suitable for the extinguisher and can be easily removed if it needs to be.

 

How do I know if my fire extinguisher has expired?

To check the expiration date of a fire extinguisher, the first place you should look is the service label or the manufacture date, which is found on the label or the neck of the extinguisher.

If your extinguisher has been manufactured within the last 15 years and you want to make sure it’s in good working order, you’ll need to look at the date of its last service and check for any wear and tear during your visual inspection.

 

How can Citation Fire & Electrical help?

To make sure your fire extinguishers are fit for purpose and you remain on the right side of the law, our FIA-trained specialists can carry out a full, efficient Fire Extinguisher Service. We’ll then issue you with a certificate that will provide proof of your compliance and may be requested by your property’s insurance supplier.

Along with fire extinguisher support, we also offer Fire Risk Assessments, Emergency Light Testing, and Fire Alarm Maintenance so you can leave your fire safety in the hands of a trusted and experienced safety provider.

After more than a decade of providing Safety Testing services to thousands of businesses nationwide, our specialists can reduce electrical and fire risks, keeping your business compliant and your employees safe.

To book your Fire Extinguisher Service, simply fill out your details in the form above or get in touch with our service team by calling 0800 055 6559.

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