Everything you need to know about the inspection of fire extinguishers and suppression systems

Everything you need to know about the inspection of fire extinguishers and suppression systems

8/14/2018 - SPI

Do you know how to conduct a fire extinguisher inspection or verify a fire suppression system? How often should you test it? What are the available resources to help determine if your system meets the standards? These are questions companies face during the inspection of fire extinguishers and fire suppression systems.

First, it is not recommended to attempt to test or inspect fire suppression systems yourself. These are often complex systems and having an untrained employee handling them may cause unexpected issues, such as a system malfunction, which could prevent it from effectively responding to a potential fire.

In most cases, inspections and certificates are carried out by specialized inspectors. This step is essential when installing a new system; do not assume it complies with the standards because it is brand new. Ask a specialist to inspect the system and certify it is properly configured and meets manufacturer specification as well as the appropriate standard. If the system fails to pass the inspection, ask the system installer to make the necessary corrections to comply with the manufacturer’s specifications and the standard for the fire suppression system. Following the installation, the inspector should re-inspect the system as recommended by the manufacturer or as required by your fire prevention authority. A inspection tag should be signed indicating the type of system, when it was inspected and who the technician was who completed the inspection. This tag should be affixed to the system preferably on the control head or manual station and be visible at all times.

Each fire suppression system is designed according to the type of fire, for example, chemical or electrical fire. It is therefore important to plan for a suppression system composed of the correct extinguishing agent that will properly and effectively extinguish or surpress the fire. Generally, extinguishing cylinders use dry chemicals, wet chemical, gas or CO2 to extinguish fires. The systems must be selected according to the type of fires identified in the risk assessment done beforehand.

Fire extinguishers: Q&A

Why is it necessary to perform an inspection and carry out maintenance on fire extinguishers?

According to fire prevention, to be safe, any workplace must contain a smoke detector as well as the appropriate extinguisher according to the potential fire hazards. To ensure the appropriate operation of fire extinguishers, the person in charge must ensure the equipment is adequate and in good working order given its importance and the specific hazards of the high-risk areas. Do not neglect this step as it could lead to potentially avoidable damages, injuries or death in case of fire.

Who should conduct the inspection of fire extinguishers?

Fire extinguisher inspections must always be conducted by a competent person, who is properly trained, has knowledge of the appropriate standard and has enough experience to properly carry out inspections and certification tasks.

At what frequency should extinguishers be inspected?

Extinguishers must be inspected annually and verified on a monthly basis to ensure their properly functioning. Each extinguisher has specific maintenance instructions.

What is the yearly maintenance of fire extinguishers?

Extinguishers must be maintained according to the current standards. According to NFPA-10 Edition 2013, maintenance usually includes an external verification of the fire extinguisher to ensure there is no damage to the cylinder, rust or if the lance is clogged. Also, make sure the instructions are still readable and located at the front of the fire extinguisher, that the WHMIS seal is still intact and readable, and validate the manufacturing date to decide if the extinguisher requires maintenance or an hydrostatic test (every 12 years).

To find out more about the fire prevention procedures to implement, look at our blog articles about fire protection. Contact our experts now to determine the best system for your situation or to schedule an inspection.