In order to ensure that they are available and operate properly when needed, both federal certification requirements and state license requirements mandate that all commercial facilities properly inspect, test and maintain their portable fire extinguishers.
Portable fire extinguishers are required to be visually inspected when initially placed in service and at least monthly thereafter. These visual inspections, intended to help ensure that each extinguisher is in its designated place and will operate if needed, can be performed by facility staff.
A pressure gauge in the “normal” or “operable” range is not a 100 percent guaranty that the extinguisher will perform as intended. A broken seal, for example, may be an indication that someone has used the extinguisher and discharged a portion of the contents too small to affect the pressure gauge. NFPA 10, Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers, therefore, requires that the monthly inspection verify a number of things including:
- Confirm the extinguisher is visible, unobstructed, and in its designated location.
- Verify the locking pin is intact and the tamper seal is unbroken. Examine the extinguisher for obvious physical damage, corrosion, leakage, or clogged nozzle.
- Confirm the pressure gauge or indicator is in the operable range or position, and lift the extinguisher to ensure it is still full.
- Make sure the operating instructions on the nameplate are legible and facing outward.
- Check the last professional service date on the tag. (A licensed fire extinguisher maintenance contractor must have inspected the extinguisher within the past 12 months.)
- Initial and date the back of the tag.
Report expired service tags and missing, damaged or used extinguishers immediately.