Fire Extinguisher Inspections: Ensuring Workplace Fire Safety 

Fire Extinguisher Inspections: Ensuring Workplace Fire Safety 

Fire extinguisher inspections are an important part of workplace fire safety.A fire can be a devastating event, causing significant damage to properties and potentially endangering lives. Businesses must take every precaution to prevent such incidents, and one of the most effective strategies is maintaining well-functioning fire extinguishers. 

For instance, it is a must to make sure that the fire extinguisher is not blocked, has the correct pressure gauge reading, and is not expired or damaged. In this article, we’ll discuss why inspections are so necessary for businesses, how to effectively use a fire extinguisher inspection checklist and what to do if you find any problems.

What is a Fire Extinguisher Inspection?

A fire extinguisher inspection is a thorough examination of the extinguisher’s condition and effectiveness. It includes checking the physical condition, pressure levels, tamper seals, and the presence of a current inspection tag. This critical process guarantees the extinguisher’s reliability in the event of a fire.

Certified fire safety professionals usually conduct these inspections. However, an inspector’s main responsibilities regarding fire extinguishers include providing information and training recommendations. With the right guidance, a basic visual check can also be performed by any knowledgeable, competent person within the organization. 

But according to OSHA – 1910.157(c)(4) it’s an employer’s legal responsibility to have in place all the necessary fire extinguisher equipment “The employer shall assure that portable fire extinguishers are maintained in a fully charged and operable condition and kept in their designated places at all times except during use.”

Why are fire extinguisher inspections important?

Fire extinguisher inspections are an integral part of a business’s fire safety plan. 

Here’s why they’re vital: Fire Risk Assessment: Build a Successful Workplace Fire Safety Plan

Compliance with Safety Regulations: Fire extinguisher inspections are mandated by various safety regulations, like OSHA (which include many NFPA regulations), to ensure workplace safety. Non-compliance can lead to penalties and legal action.

Prevention of Catastrophic Damage: Regular inspections ensure that fire extinguishers are always in operational condition. This drastically increases the chances of controlling a fire quickly and minimizes the potential damage.

Ensuring Employee Safety: Knowing that fire extinguishers are reliable and ready to use provides a safer environment for employees, which can boost their confidence and productivity.

How often should fire extinguishers be inspected?

According to NFPA 10 guidelines, it is necessary to inspect fire extinguishers during the initial installation and then once a month thereafter. If these extinguishers are placed in areas where they are susceptible to rust, damage, or unauthorized handling, more frequent inspections may be required. You should also do a monthly inspection and also have an annual maintenance inspection done in accordance with NFPA 10 regulations. 

A licensed fire extinguisher maintenance contractor must conduct an annual inspection using a fire extinguisher inspection checklist to ensure that the extinguishers are fully pressurized, the correct weight, and free of damage. If an extinguisher fails the inspection, it will need to be replaced. 

The annual inspection may also involve a pull test on the pin and a seal replacement, and the inspector will provide a dated inspection tag. During the annual inspection, it is recommended to review the inspection documentation to ensure that it is complete, stored properly, and that the appropriate personnel know where and how to access the records.

How to Perform an effective Fire Extinguisher Inspection

Step 1: Locate the Fire Extinguisher

Ensure that the fire extinguisher is in its designated place. It should be easily accessible, unobstructed, and not hidden behind doors or other equipment. The extinguisher’s location should be marked clearly so that even someone unfamiliar with the premises can find it quickly during an emergency.

Step 2: Check the Tamper Seal and Pull Pin

The tamper seal and pull pin on the fire extinguisher should be intact. If the tamper seal is broken or the pull pin is missing, it might indicate that the extinguisher has been used or tampered with. Used fire extinguishers need to be replaced or recharged immediately by professionals.

Step 3: Examine the Physical Condition

Look for any visible signs of wear, tear, or damage such as dents, leaks, rust, or corrosion on the extinguisher body. Such issues could potentially affect the functionality of the extinguisher. Also, check the hose and nozzle for any blockages, cracks, or damage. Damaged parts need to be replaced by professionals.

Step 4: Check the Pressure Gauge

Most fire extinguishers have a pressure gauge with areas marked in green and red. The needle should be in the green area, indicating that the extinguisher is adequately charged. If it’s in the red zone, the extinguisher may be overcharged or undercharged, and it needs to be serviced or replaced.

Fire Extinguisher Inspections: Ensuring Workplace Fire Safety

Step 5: Verify the Weight

Most fire extinguishers have their weight marked on them. By picking up and feeling the weight of the extinguisher, you can usually tell if it feels right. If it feels much lighter than it should, it might indicate that the extinguisher has lost some of its firefighting agent and needs to be replaced or serviced.

Step 6: Check the Inspection Tag or Label

Fire extinguishers should have an inspection tag or label attached to them indicating the date of the last professional inspection. With a digital fire extinguisher inspection checklist, all your records could be kept in the same location as the annual fire extinguisher inspection. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards, fire extinguishers should undergo a thorough professional inspection annually. If it’s been more than a year, arrange for a professional inspection.

Step 7: Record the Inspection

After you’ve inspected the fire extinguisher, note down the date of your inspection, the inspector’s name, and any findings or issues observed during the check. This record-keeping helps track the inspection history of each fire extinguisher and assists in identifying any recurring issues.

Step 8: Communicate Any Issues

If you discover any issues during your inspection, communicate this immediately to the relevant individual or department within your organization responsible for fire safety. They should arrange for a certified fire equipment company to replace, service, or repair the fire extinguisher as necessary.

Most Common Issues With Fire Extinguishers In The Workplace

It’s important to know some common issues that could arise after a fire extinguisher inspection and how it can affect its performance: 

  • rust on the bottom of the bottle, which can cause leaks and weaken the container. 
  • partial deployment, when only part of the extinguishing agent is released, leaving the hose vulnerable to clogging over time. This can happen because the agent left in the hose can dry and harden, acting like a plug. 
  • Pressure loss, which is often a consequence of partial deployment, as the remaining gas may escape slowly or not at all. 
  • Seals and gaskets can also degrade over time, especially if the extinguisher is not used or maintained regularly. 

Exposure to harsh environmental conditions, such as extreme temperatures, humidity, or chemicals, can cause the extinguisher to lose pressure and malfunction. 

Frequent fire extinguisher inspections will helpo ensure that your fire extinguisher is ready to use when you need it. Check for signs of damage, corrosion, or expiration, and follow the instructions for proper storage and handling. 

Fire extinguisher inspections are made easier with a mobile inspection app

A mobile app can streamline the process of fire safety inspections in general, and fire extinguisher inspections more particularly. The benefits include:

  • Increased accuracy and efficiency in inspection and reporting 
  • Improved tracking of fire extinguishers and their inspection status 
  • Reduced costs associated with manual inspections 
  • Increased visibility of inspection status and trends 
  • Ability to customize workflows and reporting 
  • Ability to capture photos and other evidence during inspections 
  • Increased safety for personnel conducting inspections.

Why is GoAudits the best software for your fire safety inspections?  

Choose the best  software to help you with this process, without paperwork and heavy admin workload. Our comprehensive  fire safety software helps you automate many of the manual tasks involved in the fire extinguisher inspection process:

  • easier data collection in the field with smart forms
  • instant reporting to share your fire extinguisher report information quickly, pinpointing every non-conformances or highlighting critical non-conformances
  • smart dashboards for real-time analysis
  • corrective actions that can be assigned to specific team members, internally or externally
  • vast library of audit checklist templates which can be customized, to get started as quickly as possible.

Both your company and the external auditors will be able to access up-to-date information about the performance of your inspections and audits at any time. 

With this approach, you can rest assured that your fire inspections will go through without a hitch and that you’ll stay compliant. GoAudits has also been featured by Capterra as one of the highest-rated and most popular software solutions on the market in 2023. Discover more about fire safety inspections with GoAudits here.

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