The first thing you do to put out a fire is to find the nearest water source or to find a fire extinguisher. In a commercial setting, the fire extinguisher is seen in almost every corner. It’s a reliable tool to use just in case a fire breaks out, which at times is uncertain or may never happen at all. Because the fire extinguisher can sit in an establishment for a while, sometimes we ask the question, how often should fire extinguishers be inspected for reliability?
Let’s tackle this question head-on in this article. We will discuss the different ways to check if a fire extinguisher can perform its duties when an emergency arises. Any establishment would be happy to know that they have a working fire extinguisher at their disposal. But first, let’s talk about how a fire starts, the different types of fire extinguishers, and its components to understand better how a fire extinguisher works.
How A Fire Starts
For a fire to start, it will require four major components. These components are oxygen, heat, fuel, and a chemical reaction. We will describe each part briefly to understand further its contributions to creating a fire.
Oxygen – Oxygen is present in a fire to sustain the combustion of the flames.
Heat – Heat builds up when a fire starts and raises the materials that surround it to its igniting temperature.
Fuel – This supports the combustion of flames and can be in the form of flammable material.
- Chemical Reaction - This is when all the three elements above are put together as one.
A fire extinguisher works by eliminating one or more of these four components. When even one is taken away, a fire cannot exist. Let’s take a look at the type of flames that need to be put out.
Types Of Fires
Knowing how often should fire extinguishers be inspected goes hand-in-hand with the type of fire extinguishers we are using to control oxygen, heat, and fuel. Before we proceed to the different fire extinguisher types, we should also understand the different types of fire.
Understanding the fire types will determine what kind of fire extinguisher is best suited for the specific fire emergency. Because what catches on fire is also a factor in how to put out the flames completely. We have five different types of fire, which are distinguished by class, and these are the following with examples.
Class A Fire – The class A fire type is usually evident in solid flammable material that catches fire. These are fabrics, paper, wood, rubber, and plastics.
Class B Fire – The class B fire type is classified as flammable liquids and gasses that we are very familiar with. These flammable liquids include grease, petroleum, oils, alcohol, and gasoline. The different combustible gases like butane and propane are also classified in this type.
Class C Fire – The class C fire type is for electrical equipment and machinery. These kinds of equipment usually catch fire due to overheating or from short circuit sparks. Computers, servers, transformers, and appliances are the usual suspects for this fire type.
Class D Fire – The class D fire type is reserved for metals that combust quickly. Fire accidents usually occur in chemistry laboratories or facilities for these metals. The elements include titanium, lithium, magnesium, and potassium.
- Class F Fire – The class K fire type is for cooking greases and oil. These include any vegetable or seed oil and saturated animal fat.
Types Of Fire Extinguisher
To know how often should fire extinguishers be inspected accurately, we should know the different fire extinguishers types. Each fire extinguisher type contains specific elements to eliminate fire directed to what class of fire it is, and how to put it out completely.
Water and Foam
This fire extinguisher works by spraying the fire with water, taking away the heating element of fire. It is also accompanied by a thick foam substance that separates oxygen to limit combustion. This is suitable for fire class A only.
This fire extinguisher is the most popular among all fire extinguisher types. This is what you see most in every corner of almost all commercial buildings. Its uses are multipurpose and are very useful in putting off the fire for classes A, B, and C types. It contains a dry chemical agent that serves as a barrier between oxygen and what fuels the fire. Knowing how often should fire extinguishers be inspected for this type will depend on the expiration of its dry chemicals.
This type of fire extinguisher is composed of halon agents and halocarbon agents. These elements have less impact on the environment when used. These substances, when used on a fire, interrupts the chemical reaction by removing heat. These are very useful for fire classes A, B, and C.
Dry powder extinguishers are for Class D fires only. Powder from the extinguisher separates oxygen from the fuel source. It also has components that decrease the heat from the fire. Knowing how often should fire extinguishers be inspected for this type will depend on the label when the dry powder agent expires.
Wet Chemical extinguishers are for class K fires. It has anti-re-ignition chemicals that alter the fuel properties of a fire, making it incombustible when paired with heat. This type of extinguisher was designed for use in a commercial kitchen where deep fryers are prevalent.
Maintenance and Inspection
When and how should fire extinguishers be inspected? A fire extinguisher should be maintained every month and thoroughly inspected every year. A designated professional should be in-charge of annual inspections, while staff members can handle monthly checks. Let’s go through the things needed to be done during these inspections:
Monthly inspections are done by checking if the fire extinguishers are in their right location. Checking the locks of nozzles should also be noted, as well as checking for usage or tampering. In a commercial setting, any staff member can do this monthly tasks. Make sure to have a record of the inspection every month, and make it visible for the next person.
Checking for damages to the fire extinguisher is crucial. Also, checking for the right pressure should be noted. Going through the list of monthly check-ups will be reviewed. Ensuring all labels and tags on each fire extinguisher passes quality control. If possible, make sure that all fire extinguishers work and are ready to use.
Note: Different fire extinguisher types contain different chemical or non-chemical elements. It is important to check on the labels that come with the fire extinguisher to determine the expiration date of these elements. Fire extinguishers should be replaced every six years if possible, for optimum safety. Here’s how to learn more about Home Security Locks.
Often, a fire extinguisher is never used, and that is why they are usually taken for granted. We have to be aware that these “just in case tools” are lifesavers during an emergency. That is why it is essential to know how often should fire extinguishers be inspected to make sure that when the time comes, it is in its best shape and ready for use at your disposal.