Can I Still Use An Expired Fire Extinguisher?

So as long as it’s maintained regularly, a fire extinguisher can last as long as 10-12 years. NFPA standards say that you should consider replacing extinguishers every 12 years. 

After that time period, you’re playing with fire, quite literally. Why’s that? Because extinguishers tend to lose pressure over that period of time. External factors like damage, rust and corrosion can compromise the integrity of the shell, impacting the extinguisher’s ability to function properly over time. 

The big question is – if you haven’t updated or upgraded your fire extinguisher in that period of time – is it possible to use them still if you’re faced with an emergency? That’s what we’re here to discuss today. Let’s jump right in.

Signs as to why you might want to replace your extinguisher

At least once or twice a year, it’s a good idea to check your extinguisher to see if there’s anything visually or mechanically you should be worried about. The things you’re going to want to look for include:

  • Broken seals
  • Signs of weakening and damage
  • Visible rust, damage or corrosion
  • Weak/shaky or broken handles
  • Missing pins
  • Damage to the hose
  • Lack of inspection tags

If you haven’t had your entire home inspected for fire safety in some time, then you’ll most definitely want to have a professional come in and perform a simple once-over. Not only will they look at your house’s safety as a whole; they’ll also take a look at your fire extinguishers to see if they need to be replaced. 

If you have any of these defects and your extinguisher is old – we recommend getting it repaired or replaced immediately as there’s a significant chance that it won’t perform as intended should the need arise. 

How to get rid of your old extinguishers 

If your fire extinguisher has chemicals inside of it and you see damage, simply call your local fire department and see if they’ll accept old or damaged/expired extinguishers. If they can’t, take it to a hazardous waste disposal facility. 

In the event the extinguisher is empty, give the handle a small squeeze to ensure that there’s no more pressure remaining in the tank. Remove the extinguisher’s head after that to make sure the container itself is empty. If it is, most recycling facilities will happily accept the steel shell. 

So what’s the verdict?

If your extinguisher is expired or old, it’s time to get a replacement. The risk of personal harm to you or others is simply too high to take the chance. Sure, some may, in fact work; but it’s not worth hoping for the best in the event you need to use it. The cost isn’t significant and the degree of safety on its own should be enough to make the right decision. 

If your fire extinguishers are damaged or expired, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to provide you with a whole host of options for replacements, training, inspection and the like. Until then, stay safe and good luck!

Fire Extinguisher Use Mistakes

Whenever there’s a fire, a fire extinguisher is usually your first line of protection in order to prevent the spread of the fire itself. But you’d be surprised at some of the mistakes people make when using an extinguisher.

Here are three (3) mistakes to avoid when using a fire extinguisher to ensure you use it properly and keep yourself safe!

Standing too close to the fire.

Maintaining the proper distance between the extinguisher and the fire is one of the most important things you can do. If you’re too far away, the extinguisher’s stream will be too weak. If you stand too close, you can potentially burn yourself or even spread the fire.

More or less (and this depends on the size of the fire), FEMA recommends that you stand about eight feet away. It’ll give you both the right amount of power and won’t flatten out and widen the fire and cause it to spread.

Shooting too high

People frequently make the mistake of starting from the top of a fire and sweeping downwards. This isn’t what you want to do. Doing that never puts out the fire, instead it just causes the fire to burn more intensely.

The truth is – that it’s the base where the ‘fuel’ for the fire exists and that’s where you want to aim. Sweep along the base and you should find yourself having success. If you’re not, then the chances are that you’re in over your head and should leave for safety immediately.

Not pulling the pin

Pins exist for a reason on fire extinguishers, and that’s to prevent premature discharge. Always remember to pull the pin or you won’t be able to use your extinguisher in any, real capacity. Sometimes you’ll even run across what are called tamper ties, which is something companies like ours use to prevent discharge from extinguishers that’ve been used. When you find yourself having to use the extinguisher and you see the tamper tie, simply twist and pull the pin with generous force and you’ll be ready to go.

A lot of people think they can put out fires, but it’s important to always be proactive and constantly remind and re-train yourself on what to do in the worst case scenario. Hopefully these tips will help you use your fire extinguisher better and with a better eye for safety.