Testing and servicing fire extinguishers is an important part of protecting the usefulness of your safety plan and all else that follows. While fire equipment technicians can check your fire extinguishers and re-charge them when necessary, they are often only responsible for performing basic servicing routines such as inspections and maintenance. Fire equipment technicians can offer advice and guidance, but they cannot make changes to procedures or equipment that your workplace relies on for fire safety.
As a business manager, you will want to carefully review all safety plans that include fire extinguisher testing practices, making sure that you are in compliance with AS1851.1. A solid fire extinguisher testing plan includes making sure that your fire safety equipment is ready to perform for any fire emergency. There are checks that you can do for making sure your fire safety policies are in order.
Could your workplace environment impact fire extinguisher performance?
Fire extinguishers subjected to harsh environments may require additional inspections, maintenance and testing. For example, extreme temperatures, overexposure to sunlight or moisture, dust or dirt filled areas, and heavy vibrations from industrial machinery could increase failure rates of fire extinguishers. Under these circumstances, you will want to have your fire extinguishers checked more often.
Have the risks changed?
Fire extinguisher types that were originally installed may not be appropriate if the type of fire risk in your workplace has changed. For example, if additional electronic switchboards have been installed recently, then a Class AE or E extinguisher would also be appropriately installed and maintained. If flammable liquids have been added to productions, then a class B extinguisher would be most appropriate to have on hand. Review your workplace risks and if necessary, update the type of extinguishers located on your facility’s premises to properly protect all work areas.
Are all of your fire extinguishers mounted and installed correctly?
Routine checking of the brackets, cabinets or enclosures used for your fire safety equipment will ensure supportive function should your extinguishers be needed for emergency response. They should be solidly mounted to safely secure the extinguisher, while also allowing for labels and inspection tags to be easily read.
Be careful to not locate your extinguishers in a position where accessing them could present additional hazards to a potential user. Wherever practical, extinguishers should be located along regular paths of travel and near building exits.
Do your equipment locations meet visibility standards?
Fire extinguisher signage and locations should be clearly visible from distances of up to 20 meters in all directions of approach.
Will your facility need additional fire extinguishers?
Review the locations of your existing fire extinguishers to determine if more are needed for handling any particular area. Construction or expansion of any coverage area creates a situation where you will need to assess equipment locations and make sure your entire workplace area adheres to AS 2444 standards.
When you have questions about fire extinguisher testing and servicing, consult with a trained fire technician specialist to make sure that you understand requirements, standards and how to best implement them. Do you need some help with your fire extinguisher locations or other compliance checks? Feel free to contact us.