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Do Fire Extinguishers Expire?

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When To Refill or Replace Your Fire Extinguisher

Fire extinguishers do expire. However, they don’t have a true “expiration date” — they have a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years. Every business’s fire safety maintenance plan should include routine fire extinguisher inspections and maintenance to ensure optimal equipment performance and protect lives.

Below, Liberty Fire Solutions dives into fire extinguisher expiration dates and when to refill or replace yours to ensure it’s ready to operate during a fire emergency.

Understanding Fire Extinguisher Expiration Dates

The exact service life of a fire extinguisher varies based on its type and manufacturer specifications. The expiration date is often stamped on the cylinder body or printed on the extinguisher’s label. Businesses should regularly check these dates to comply with local, state, and federal regulations and avoid fines and increased risks.

8 Signs of Expired or Ineffective Fire Extinguishers

Indications that a fire extinguisher might be expired or ineffective include:

  • Pressure gauge reading: If the needle in the extinguisher’s pressure gauge is in the red area (either too high or too low), it might not function properly.
  • Physical damage: Dents, rust, and corrosion on the extinguisher’s body, hose, or nozzle can impair functionality.
  • Broken or missing safety seals: If the safety seals or tamper indicators are broken or missing, the extinguisher could have been used or tampered with.
  • Leakage: Any signs of leaking around the extinguisher, particularly near the hose or valve, can indicate contents are escaping, which would reduce effectiveness.
  • Expired inspection tag: If the extinguisher’s tag shows a past-due inspection date, the unit might not be safe or effective.
  • Nozzle or hose blockages: Debris in the hose or nozzle could prevent the extinguisher from discharging correctly.
  • Weight: If an extinguisher feels lighter than it should, it might have lost some of its extinguishing agent through leakage or other issues.
  • Inadequate instructions: Faded or illegible operating instructions can be problematic during an emergency. If you can’t read the instructions clearly, it’s best to replace the extinguisher.

When in doubt, replacing an old or questionable unit is the safest choice.

When To Refill Fire Extinguishers

Consider refilling or recharging existing extinguishers in these situations:

  • After any use: Even if someone uses the extinguisher for just a moment, it should be refilled immediately to ensure complete effectiveness.
  • During routine inspections: The contents in unused extinguishers can degrade or lose pressure over time.
  • After a specific number of years: Depending on the extinguisher type, it might need to be emptied, inspected, and refilled every few years.
  • To meet manufacturer guidelines: It’s critical to adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding service intervals and maintenance procedures.

Records of all maintenance and refilling actions should be kept.

When To Replace Fire Extinguishers

To ensure your fire extinguishers function correctly in an emergency, consider replacement when:

  • They pass the expiration date on the unit or label.
  • You use a disposable model.
  • There’s visible damage.
  • The pressure gauge is malfunctioning.
  • There’s no record of maintenance or inspection.

Regular inspections by qualified professionals help determine the best time to replace a fire extinguisher based on NFPA 10 standards for fire extinguishers.

The Importance of Proper Fire Extinguisher Disposal

Proper fire extinguisher disposal protects the environment, ensures potential hazards are managed safely, and keeps your business compliant with fire safety regulations. Many parts can also be recycled, which helps reduce the need for raw material extraction.

Choose Liberty Fire Solutions

For over 40 years, Liberty Fire Solutions has offered high-quality fire extinguisher products and services to businesses throughout Central and Eastern Pennsylvania and Western Maryland. We serve a wide range of industries and have the experience and knowledge to ensure your property is safe and up-to-code.

You can count on Liberty Fire Solutions to meet your fire protection needs, from fire extinguishers and fire sprinklers to special hazard fire suppression systems and more.

Request a quote today or call our team to learn more about our fire extinguisher services.

Category: Fire Extinguishers