Fire Extinguisher Sales & Service

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What kind of maintenance is required on a fire extinguisher?
There are three basic types of fire extinguishers;

Stored Pressure Most common fire extinguishers contain an extinguishing agent and a propellant. A stored pressure unit generally contains the agent and propellant within the same container. Most stored pressure units feature either a pressure gauge or a pressure indicator valve. However, some extinguishers such as the carbon dioxide (CO2) extinguisher, do not have a pressure gauge but are easily recognized by the presence of a large discharge horn. Carbon Dioxide is mostly liquid agent that generates it's own pressure naturally, and is measured primarily by weight.

Maintenance on stored pressure units begins with a monthly inspection as well as an annual maintenance (sometimes referred to as annual inspection). Most rechargeable dry chemical types and halon 1211 units require a 12 year hydrostatic test and a 6 year internal maintenance. Carbon Dioxide, pressurized water, foam, loaded stream, water mist and K class units require a 5 year hydro-test, but do not require a 6 year maintenance. Some units such as foam and loaded stream (extinguisher anti-freeze) require other more specialized services.

Outside Cartridge Operated Extinguishers: These units are characterized by the existence of an externally mounted cartridge on the side of the main cylinder. The external cartridge contains the expellant (carbon dioxide) while a dry chemical agent of some sort is stored within the main cylinder. These units are designed primarily for high use industrial settings. They require extra steps, therefore extra skill to operate and tend to be a bit on the heavy side. In addition to monthly inspection and annual maintenance, they require a 12 year hydro-test. Cartridges should also be inspected periodically to determine readiness.

Manual Hand Pump: Water is usually the extinguishing agent, and a chemical propellant is not used. This unit should be visually, internally inspected for damage or corrosion annually. Hydro-testing is not required on manual hand pump units.

A list of common problems to look for:
  • Outdated service tag (expires 1 year from month & year punched)
  • Broken or missing tamper indicator (seal on pull pin)
  • Bent, broken or missing pull pin
  • Gauge or pressure indicator shows less than full service pressure
  • Corrosion has caused metallic pitting or peeling of the cylinder wall
  • Hefting or weighing shows less than the recommended gross weight
  • Cylinder threads are worn, corroded, broken, cracked, or miss-shaped
  • Extinguisher has been exposed to intense heat or burned in a fire.

NOTE:Welding/braising is not permitted on fire extinguisher cylinders. If you have any questions please feel free to give us a call; our technicians are always willing to help.




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Revised: 09/28/06