675 Rymal Road East Hamilton, L8W1B5, CA
18117 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL, 33160, USA
675 Rymal Road East Hamilton, L8W1B5, CA
18117 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL, 33160, USA
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18 Aug, 2022
Posted by tasfire
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Do Fire Extinguishers Have an Expiry Date?

What is the necessity of fire extinguishers? To many of you, fire extinguishers are those red cans one sees at the corners of a building, stairways, and other points where they’re easily accessible.

These red cans are in fact the first line of defence that helps extinguish the fire, thus saving a number of souls and preventing significant damage to the building. Building owners are required by the rules and regulations of the government to install fire extinguishers, emergency lights, and other safety precautions for the well-being of residents.

Fire extinguishers, which come in red cans, can be defined as active fire protection and portable device that is capable of extinguishing smaller fires by any individual when appropriately used. The device works by ejecting a jet of gas, foam, or water onto material that is on fire, effectively extinguishing those fires. Fire extinguishers are a personal arsenal to protect oneself against fires.

What Makes Fire Extinguishers in Buildings a Necessity?

The fires that cause death and severe injuries to civilians also bring forth destruction and property loss amounting to tens of billions of dollars in the U.S. Whereas these fires can be stopped before turning into catastrophic failures, that is when fire extinguishers come into action. Here are some of the reasons why one should install fire extinguishers as a basic safety precaution in their building:

  • It is the most basic fire safety precaution and is highly effective at putting out fires.
  • A fire extinguisher can save a large number of people during catastrophic failures.
  • Other aftereffects of fires include property loss and damage, which can be greatly reduced with the help of fire extinguishers.
  • Small fires can be kept under control with fire extinguishers.

This portable, personal arsenal has been found to be effective in extinguishing fires approximately 80 per cent of the time, reducing the need for fire departments by 75 percent.

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Different Kinds of Fire Extinguishers

Due to the occurrence of different types of fires, there are different types of fire extinguishers to quench the flames quickly and effectively. It is critical to use the right extinguisher as it could have adverse effects and result in massive fires. The following are the various types of extinguishers:

  1. Water-Fire extinguishers: These are the red-labelled fire extinguishers that can put out fires involving solid combustibles like paper, wood, and others. As a result, class A fires are extinguished with this extinguisher.
  2. Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguisher: Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers are typically black in colour and are used to extinguish flammable liquid fires. As a result, it can extinguish class B fires.
  3. Water Mist Fire Extinguisher: White-labelled water mist fire extinguishers have been found to be highly effective in reducing class A, B, and C fires as well as electrical equipment fires.
  4. Wet Chemical Fire Extinguisher: The yellow-labelled fire extinguisher is designed specifically for the use in the kitchen while burning oils and fats.
  5. Foam Fire Extinguisher: These fire extinguishers have been found to be extremely effective in extinguishing class A and B fires. Extinguishers are typically labelled in cream colour.
  6. Powder Fire Extinguisher: The blue fire extinguisher is often used to extinguish class A, B, and C fires as well as electrical fires.                                          

How Long Will a Fire Extinguisher Last?

People often disregard the importance of fire extinguishers and their proper maintenance. So is the expiry date of a fire extinguisher. How long does a fire extinguisher last? When do fire extinguishers expire? Fire extinguishers, like any other product, have an expiry date, but it is not strictly adhered to.

The expiry or life expectancy of a fire extinguisher can be determined by several factors, including:

  • Reusable or non-reusable
  • Date of manufacture
  • Extinguisher type
  • Maintenance of the extinguisher

Manufacturers typically claim that fire extinguishers have a life expectancy of 10-12 years on average. As previously stated, it is dependent on a number of factors. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are two kinds of fire extinguishers, and they are as follows: 

  1. Rechargeable Fire Extinguisher

As the name implies, these are reusable fire extinguishers that should be recharged every 6 years.

  1. Disposable Fire Extinguishers

These are non-reusable fire extinguishers with a life expectancy of 10-12 years. As a result, these fire extinguishers must be replaced every 12 years.

How to Tell if a Fire Extinguisher Has Expired?

As previously stated, fire extinguishers do not have an expiration date. A fire extinguisher can be expected to last between 10 and 12 years. However, this life span varies depending on a number of other factors. As the expiration date cannot be precisely determined, the signs of degradation can be used to determine the expiration date of a fire extinguisher. The following are three indicators to replace your fire extinguisher:

  1. Depressurization:

As previously stated, fire extinguishers do not have a set life span or expiry date. So it is with the contents of the extinguisher. Whereas these factors may cause the content to depressurize over time, rendering the portable device ineffective.

  1. Rust and corrosion:

Humid or corrosive environments cause rust to form on fire extinguishers, which has adverse consequences and renders them inoperable. As a result, it is recommended that testing and inspection be performed on a regular basis to avoid the formation of rust or corrosion.

  1. Failed hydrostatic test:

The testing is done to determine the integrity of a fire extinguisher cylinder under specific pressure. Failure of an extinguisher in this test indicates how dangerous the fire extinguisher is. It’s more of a reminder to replace the fire extinguisher.

How to Perform a Fire Extinguisher Inspection?

Fire extinguisher inspections should be performed on a regular basis to ensure that they are capable of extinguishing flames during a fire emergency. A timely fire inspection and maintenance of a fire extinguisher ensure that it is effective during a fire emergency. This maintenance is carried out in three major steps, known as ITM protocol:

  1. Inspection: Inspection is the first step in ensuring the efficiency of a fire extinguisher, and it is relatively simple. The following are the steps to take:
  • Ensuring the location of a fire extinguisher. A fire extinguisher should be installed in an easily accessible location.
  • The second step would be to look for visibility and signage boards pointing to the extinguisher.
  • Check the weight of the fire extinguisher or ensure that it is completely filled.
  • The pressure gauge should then be tested to ensure that it is operational.
  • In the case of non-rechargeable extinguishers, the extinguisher can be easily inspected by pressing push-to-test indicators.
  • In the case of wheeled extinguishers, external factors such as tyres, wheels, and so on may well be considered. 

It is recommended to keep a record of the regular inspections performed, which may include the following information:

  • The person in charge of the inspection
  • Inspection month and year
  1. Hydrostatic testing: The testing procedure uses hydrostatic liquid to examine the components of a fire extinguisher such as cylinders, shells, and so on. Thus, the test ensures that the extinguisher is free of flaws and leaks. The extinguisher is completely dried to remove all of the water while performing the test. 
  1. Maintenance: Based on the inspection results, one can make changes to their fire extinguisher to increase the longevity of the fire extinguisher. Examination of the extinguishing agent, condition of the extinguisher cylinder, mechanical parts of the extinguisher, and expelling means are all part of the maintenance procedures. External examinations are used to complete the procedure. The steps for performing external examinations will also be included in the service manual.

What to Do When Fire Extinguishers Expire?

Fire extinguishers, like any other product, expire, and what follows is the disposal of a fire extinguisher. It cannot be thrown away because it can be destructive when mishandled or has served its purpose. When fire extinguishers expire, the following simple steps should be taken:

  • Examine the fire extinguisher can to see if it is full, empty, or partially charged. If the cylinder is empty, squeeze the lever and remove the head to ensure it is not charged.
  • In the case of partially or fully charged extinguishers, one should contact the fire department for drop-off and disposal options.

Bottom line

Fire extinguishers have a life expectancy or expiration period of 10-12 years. Whereas it varies according to the type of extinguisher and components in the extinguisher as well. An expired fire extinguisher can be destructive when handled carelessly and improperly disposed of. The external conditions and other factors mentioned above help one in determining the life expectancy of a fire extinguisher. You may also look into the procedures to be followed in the case of fire extinguisher expiry.
Tasfire Protection has a team of experienced personnel to assist you and provide certain requirements and regular maintenance of fire extinguishers as well. The southern Ontario-based fire protection service conducts regular inspections and maintenance of extinguishers, thus improving the longevity of fire extinguishers.