Testing Fire Extinguishers

Why Should I Test My Fire Extinguisher?

Well actually…you shouldn’t! Testing your fire extinguisher by shooting the product out can lower the internal pressure and render it totally useless in the case of a real fire–so don’t do it. When it comes to “testing” your fire extinguisher, all you can really do is inspect it and give it a couple of turns to shake up the product, and this should be done once a month.

Inspecting your fire extinguisher can alert you to issues like if the content pressure of the canister is too low or too high, if the extinguisher has gotten damaged in any way, or if there is any build-up or clogging in the hose. If your extinguisher is located in a public place where lots of people (like high school students or angry customers) are able to mess with it, these inspections are absolutely crucial. Even if it’s located in an isolated place–checking the extinguisher’s pressure regularly and giving it a quick shake is still a very good idea.

What Happens If I Don't Test My Fire Extinguisher?

Honestly, probably nothing. Other than the chemical product eventually getting packed down in the bottom of the canister, nothing bad will happen to your extinguisher if you just leave it alone. But a fire extinguisher with low or high internal pressure won’t work correctly, and neither will a broken one. So it’s better to inspect and maintain it before it’s too late

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Step-By-Step

  • 1. Locate your fire extinguisher.
    • Locate Your fire extinguisher and inspection ticket. The fire extinguisher inspection ticket usually comes with the fire extinguisher and is tied to handle near the pin. The ticket is (ideally) used to keep track of inspections so you can initial each month you perform the inspection and check to see if and when any other inspections were performed

      Next Step
  • 2. Check that the pin is securely in place.
    • It should be snuggly fit between the handle to prevent the extinguisher from spraying when it’s not in use.

      Next Step
  • 3. Check the pressure gauge.
    • This part is pretty self-explanatory. The needle of the pressure gauge should be in the green area that signals the correct pressure. If it’s in the red, the pressure is too high or too low and you need a new fire extinguisher.

      Next Step
  • 4. Check the canister for dents, water damage, or signs of use.
    • Even small amounts of damage can be dangerous because the canister can explode, so if you see any damage it is recommended you get a new extinguisher.

      Next Step
  • 5. Turn the extinguisher upside down a few times.
    • You should be able to hear the powder-like product moving around inside. If you can’t hear or feel it moving, this means the product has gotten too compacted at the bottom of the canister and–you guessed it!–it’s time for a new extinguisher.

      Next Step
  • 6. Dust any dirt off extinguisher and put it back in its place.
    • You did it! Smokey the Bear will be proud.

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