Keeping extinguishers in shape

January 1, 2009

Portable fire extinguishers can be vital in preventing a small fire from turning into a major incident. But the devices cannot provide protection unless they are properly maintained. OSHA has established the following rules regarding fire extinguishers:

  • The employer is responsible for maintaining and testing all portable fire extinguishers in the workplace.
  • Fire extinguishers or hoses need to be visually inspected at least once a month.
  • A maintenance check should be performed on all extinguishers at least once annually, and records of this check should be kept for one year. Stored pressure extinguishers do not require an internal examination.
  • Dry-chemical extinguishers that require a 12-year hydrostatic test should be emptied for full maintenance every six years. Those with nonrefillable disposable containers are exempt from this requirement.
  • Hydrostatic testing should be performed by trained individuals with suitable testing equipment and facilities.
  • When portable extinguishers are removed for maintenance or rechar-ging, the employer is required to provide an equal alternative.