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Fire Extinguisher Servicing Guide

So you have received your Fire Extinguisher Service Technicians certificate from the BFC or BAFE, you are familiar with BS 5306-3:2009, your new tool kit has arrived and you are off to your first job.

As time goes on and you get more jobs, it becomes easier and 'routine'. But the first job is actually quite daunting, especially if you are going solo. So ActFire has created this little step by step guide, just as a handy reminder so that you don’t forget anything on that first job!

  1. When you first book in the appointment, ask for a copy of the sites Asbestos register. Buildings constructed before 2000 may contain Asbestos and it is a legal requirement for the owner / occupier of the building to have an Asbestos survey performed. The results of that survey will be an Asbestos register that tells you where any Asbestos (if any) is located or where it might be located. Unless you are licensed to work with Asbestos you will have to avoid any work in these areas that may disturb the Asbestos. If the site has no register and you believe that it was constructed before 2000, plan on NOT doing any kind of drilling, hammering, etc. You may even want to refuse to attend until they have an Asbestos survey for your own safety.

  2. Make sure you have everything with you that you will need. Your ID badge, your service sheets, your tools, your spares, etc. It is always worth being over-prepared so that you don't run into something that you can't handle. Even if you are booked to perform a basic service on two extinguishers, it is recommended that you have replacements just in case there is a problem, extra in case the site is under-provisioned, signs in case none are present, installation equipment (drill, driver, screws, brackets, etc.), along with the usual range of o-rings, tamper seals and service labels. It is always wise to take a small barricade or cones along with you, so that you can section off the area you are working in. This helps to prevent trips and falls, alerting members of the public or employees that you are working in the area. If you are required to drill at any point, it is a good idea to have a ‘pipe and live wire’ tool available. These are relatively inexpensive but can save you from danger and mishaps when drilling into the unknown.

  3. When you arrive at the site, announce yourself at reception (or ask to speak with someone in authority), explaining why you are there. If they have a visitors’ book, sign in. They may require you to wear a site ID badge as well as your own badge. You should also check if there are any health and safety issues on site that you need to be aware of (do they work with any chemicals that you should know about, do you need to wear hi-vis, helmet, etc.) and whether there are any planned fire alarm tests. It is also a good idea to know where the assembly points are, just in case.

Once you have made contact and the customer is aware that you are in attendance, you can move on to the actual work.

  1. When approaching the first extinguisher, look around to ascertain whether the customer has the right extinguisher for the risks in that location. Also ensure that any signage is relevant to the extinguisher.

  2. Before removing the extinguisher from its bracket, check that the tamper seal is intact and the safety pin is still in place. Is the seal is broken you should replace it before proceeding.

  3. Remove the extinguisher from its bracket and check the service label on the back. The label will tell you what type of service is required (basic or extended). If it is due for an extended service you should ensure that the customer is aware of this. Sometimes a customer will want to purchase new instead of have an extended service as the costs are often similar. For a basic service, continue to step 4.

  4. Remove the extinguisher from its bracket or stand and examine the body and head-cap, looking for any corrosion or damage. Make sure that the label and instructions are clearly legible and printed in English. While doing this it is a good idea to wipe the extinguisher down with a cloth, removing any dust/dirt.

  5. Weigh the extinguisher and check the figure against the figure documented on the label. If the difference is more than 10% of the charge weight (i.e. 900g difference in a 9kg powder, 600ml in a 6ltr foam, etc.) then the unit should be discharged, checked and recharged. If the figure is within tolerance, mark the figure on the service label. In the case of a CO2 extinguisher, you should weigh the cylinder only with the horn removed. You will weigh CO2 units in step 7.

  6. Remove the gauge dot on the pressure gauge (CO2 units do not have a pressure gauge, so you can skip this step for them). Using a pin or pump type gauge tester, test the pressure gauge to ensure that it has free movement and is not stuck/seized up. If the gauge is functioning correctly replace the gauge dot with a new one with the current year stamped on it.

  7. Remove the hose/horn from the extinguisher and check the length of it for damage. Make sure that there is no corrosion on any of the metal parts and that the nozzle is free from obstructions. Bend the hose to make sure the rubber has not petrified and prone to cracking. If the hose is in good condition, remove the old o-ring, fit a new one and screw the hose back into the extinguisher head-cap. If the extinguisher is a CO2 unit, weigh the cylinder before replacing the horn and note this figure on the service label following the same tolerance guidance as step 5. When replacing the horn ensure that the nut is tightened sufficiently that the horn will stay in the horizontal position without being held. Some CO2 units have older single skin horns that can cause freeze burn to the users hand if they hold the horn during discharge.

  8. Break the tamper seal and remove the safety pin/clip. Make sure that that pin/clip can be removed easily and shows no signs of corrosion. If it does, replace it with a new one. Check that the handles have free movement (being careful not to accidentally discharge the extinguisher!) before replacing the pin/clip and fitting a new tamper seal.

  9. Fill in the service label on the rear of the extinguisher, noting the date of service, type of service, weight of extinguisher (this should have been filled in during step 5 for standard units or step 7 for CO2 units) your ID and the date that the next service is due.

  10. Before replacing the extinguisher on its bracket, check that the bracket is fitted securely to the wall.

  11. Make a note of this extinguisher and move on to the next unit. Once you have serviced all of the extinguishers on site, fill in your service sheet with the details you noted down and sign it off before taking it to the responsible person on site. Talk them through the information on the sheet and once you are sure that they understand ask them to sign off your work. If for any reason you had to condemn any extinguishers, discuss these reasons with the customer and offer replacements.