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Ensure fire safety with a monthly fire extinguisher inspection checklist

Learn how to use a fire extinguisher checklist to perform regular inspections as well as how often fire extinguishers need to be checked, recharged, and replaced. Ensure fire safety in your business through regular, efficient, and effective fire extinguisher maintenance with a mobile application.

Vital importance of monthly fire extinguisher inspection checklists

Ensuring the safety of premises from potential fire hazards necessitates a meticulous approach, exemplified by the monthly fire extinguisher inspection checklist. This protocol, executed with precision, guarantees the fire extinguishers’ optimal condition. The responsibility extends to safety officers or dedicated personnel who undertake these assessments, serving as a cornerstone of an organization’s comprehensive fire safety strategy.

This guide gives a brief overview of the following points:

1. What is a monthly fire extinguisher inspection checklist?

2. Fire extinguisher inspection and regulations

3. Types of fire extinguishers

4. What’s checked in a monthly inspection

5. How to do an annual inspection

6. Who can do a fire extinguisher inspection

7. Recharge Vs. Replace

8. A free mobile application to streamline fire extinguisher maintenance

What is a monthly fire extinguisher inspection checklist?

A fire extinguishers inspection checklist is carried out every month to ensure that the fire extinguishers are in good condition. Fire extinguisher testing and monitoring fall under inspections carried out by external specialists or a company’s own safety officers or janitors as part of the overall fire safety strategy.

The task of a safety officer is to carry out regular checks of the fire extinguishers and to keep all records up to date so that the building and tenants are safe. It is vital that a safety officer knows how to carry out a monthly fire extinguisher inspection checklist efficiently. Only in this way will he be aware of the most common problems that occur during maintenance and know how to react accordingly.

In addition, employers are required by law to check fire extinguishers for proper operation at regular intervals. This monthly fire inspection should be taken very seriously, as incidents can quickly pose a serious risk to employees.

Monthly fire extinguisher inspection checklist and regulation requirements

This little piece of equipment that often sits in corners gathering dust has the potential to save thousands of dollars worth of damages and prevent the irreplaceable loss of life caused by unexpected fires in the workplace or home.

People forget about maintaining their fire safety equipment, expecting that they’ll never need them, but they better be working properly if they do.

For a building or company site to pass a fire inspection, it must adhere to the following six fire extinguisher regulations which can be included in the monthly fire extinguisher inspection checklist:

  1. Your building has the approved portable fire extinguisher type equipped to put out the anticipated workplace fire.
  2. The fire extinguisher must not contain carbon tetrachloride or chlorobromomethane extinguishing agents as they are hazardous to human health.
  3. The extinguisher must be visible and easily accessible to all employees
  4. The fire extinguisher is fully charged and in working condition
  5. Portable extinguishers for class A and D fires should be distributed at no more than 75 foot intervals
  6. Portable extinguishers for class B fires should be distributed at no more than 50 foot intervals

OSHA has regulations on the number of portable fire extinguishers that should be distributed throughout the building. This includes the interval in which they are placed and the type of extinguisher (type A, B, C, D, and K which are designed to put out different classes of fires).

There is no exact height requirement or distance the fire extinguisher has to be mounted from the ground. Rather, OSHA states that employees should be able to readily access the fire extinguisher in cases of emergencies without endangering themselves.

Types of Fire Extinguishers

An “A-B-C” fire extinguisher can be used on all fires. Other types of extinguishers work only on a certain class of fire.

1. A-B-C extinguishers: As mentioned, this is the most multi-use type. To be more precise, it can be utilized for fires cause by ordinary combustible materials, such as wood, cloth, paper; flammable liquids, such as oil, gasoline, kerosene; and energized electrical circuits (e.g., electronic motors, electrical wiring, etc.)

2. “B-C” dry chemical: Used for fires by flammable liquids and energized electrical circuits

3. D extinguishers: For fires made by reactive metals

4. K: K stands for Kitchen. This is the extinguisher for fires brought by oils and fats

5. Carbon dioxide: Same use as for “B-C” dry chemical

How to Do a monthly fire extinguisher inspection checklist?

First and foremost, fire extinguisher inspections must be performed at least once a monthin order to remain compliant with OSHA fire codes and state regulations.

As a rule of thumb, fire extinguishers need to be checked in three ways over a period of several years, including monthly visual inspections, yearly maintenance inspections, and internal maintenance inspections every five, six, or twelve years.

Although it’s not an OSHA requirement that the monthly inspection is logged, executing an inspection is not optional. Performing regular checks is vital to the well-being and safety of everyone in the building. This can be achieved with a monthly fire extinguisher inspection checklist.

These checks take only a few seconds per extinguisher, but the impact could be potentially life-saving in case of an actual fire. Be mindful that inspecting a NFPA 10 portable fire extinguishers once a month is just a guideline. If the fire extinguisher resides in a high-traffic area where the extinguisher is more prone to damage, then it should be inspected more frequently.

What you should check for during a monthly fire extinguisher inspection checklist:

  1. The condition and location of the extinguisher
    It should be ensured that the tool is easy to find, reach, and in its designated spot. Everyone should be informed and provided a fire safety map displaying where all fire safety equipment can be found.
  2. The condition of the locking pin and the tamper seal
    An inspection should check for the presence of physical damages such as leakages and broken seals. Make sure the pin is in place and hasn’t been tampered with.
  3. The condition of the pressure gauge
    Confirm that the pressure gauge or indicator is in the operable range. This means the indicator needle is pointing in the green section. Be careful, though, since looking at this gauge from anywhere other than eye level can lead to a misreading. Also, make sure that the extinguisher is still full.
  4. Visibility of the extinguisher and its operating instructions
    The extinguisher should be in a visible, easy-to-reach place away from high-trafficked areas that expose the canister to unexpected damages. The words must be legible and face outward.
  5. Professional service date
    Fire extinguishers should be regularly inspected. At least once a year. If the extinguisher’s pressure gauge is no longer in the green or it exhibits any other signs of wear and tear, the canister should be refilled or replaced.
  6. Tag
    Check the condition and the date listed on the back of the tag. A certified inspector should replace and verify the tag once a year. The monthly checks should also be documented on this tag and signed by the inspector.
  7. The fire extinguisher is securely mounted in place
    An extinguisher placed on the floor is more susceptible to damage and the likelihood of not working on the off chance that it’s needed. It’s also more of a concern that the extinguisher will be moved to an undesignated location which could have catastrophic implications in the case of an emergency.

How to Do an Annual Fire Extinguisher Inspection

There are a few key differences between an annual and monthly fire extinguisher inspection checklist, namely that an annual maintenance inspection must be carried out by a professional fire protection companythat is certified in servicing portable fire extinguishers.

Considering the importance of the role fire extinguishers play, it’s not surprising that an annual inspection must be conducted by a certified professional.

An annual inspection of all portable fire extinguishers within the company’s site is a requirement for the legal operation of a business. This will include a thorough examination of the extinguisher’s internal and external conditions to make sure they are functioning properly. Inspectors will look for any of the following criteria:

  1. Any damage to the unit
  2. The pull pin is in working condition
  3. Reseal the pull pin
  4. Ensure the threads aren’t stripped
  5. Check the date
  6. Check no powder was released
  7. Invert the extinguisher
  8. Look for tears in the hose
  9. Remove last year’s date tag
  10. Certify this year’s date tag

Many of the items on this checklist resemble the items on the monthly inspection. However, these inspectors are certified to perform maintenance and double-check any damaged components that might have been missed by an untrained eye.

Who Can Inspect Fire Extinguishers?

By law, an employer is responsible for the safety of his workers and has to make sure that the monthly fire extinguisher inspection checklist is performed and recorded, but they don’t have to perform the inspections themselves.

Still, who is allowed to perform these inspections? Does the inspector have to hold a certification? Or can any employee conduct their own inspections? The following passages will answer these questions.

1. Who Can Perform a Monthly Fire Extinguisher Inspection:

Luckily, it doesn’t take a special certification to be able to safely make sure a fire extinguisher is functioning properly. Since these checks are fairly straightforward, anyone should be able to perform them.

An employee or designated safety officer can do this task, or the employer can hire an outside company to complete the monthly inspection.

It doesn’t matter who does the Inspection, but they still need to be performed monthly. This can present more of a logistical issue for those who inhabit larger buildings than those who don’t. Lumiform allows employers to automatically assign an employee to the monthly task of making sure the pressure gauge arrow still points to the green.

2. Who Can Perfrom an Annual Fire Extinguisher Inspection:

Both fortunately and unfortunately, these inspections must be conducted by a certified professional.

It’s not the most appealing prospect to have to schedule an appointment with a professional fire inspection company, but at least you’ll be rest assured that all the fire safety equipment is up to industry and regulation standards and will work in the case of an unexpected fire.

When Should A Fire Extinguisher be Replaced Vs. Recharged?

Unfortunately, fire extinguishers cannot typically be repaired. That means if any part of the extinguisher breaks or is damaged—including the handle, hose, gauge, pin, or canister—the entire unit needs to be replaced.

If any of these components are missing or damaged, they will fail the inspection and need to be replaced. The average price of a portable fire extinguisher is between $150 and $200, depending on the type of extinguisher and what class of fire it can fight. It’s recommended a unit be replaced every twelve years regardless of its condition.

However, one exception does exist and that is a canister can be refilled after it’s been discharged if all the other components are still in good working order.

A fire extinguisher should be recharged at the ten-year mark to meet all safety standards—even if it has never been used. The same goes if the extinguisher was never fully emptied, for instance, in the case of a small fire. It still needs to be recharged. Failure to do so could result in non-compliance with the fire code and the chance the device won’t work properly in the case of an actual fire.

Regular fire extinguisher and hose next to a white door

A Mobile Solution for Fire Extinguisher Checklists

Safety officers can inspect up to 100 fire extinguishers in a building per month, not to mention the full maintenance report for each individual extinguisher. With all this paperwork, the likelihood of human error increases, which means that the risk of fire from a single malfunctioning extinguisher also increases.

Lumiform helps safety officers improve fire safety in the workplace by making fire extinguisher maintenance more efficient. The mobile application for regular fire extinguisher maintenance enables them to:

  • Using the super intuitive mobile app, you and your team can efficiently perform paperless maintenance via your mobile devices
  • The flexible checklist builder from Lumiform helps you to convert any individual fire extinguisher checklist into a digital checklist without much effort.
  • Easy attachment of photo documents to the report after fire extinguisher maintenance
  • Forward problems identified during the inspection by assigning corrective actions
  • Create complete visual reports and release them immediately
  • Save and document data immediately
  • Templates for monthly fire extinguisher inspection checklist and previous reports are always at hand
  • In addition, we offer more than 12,000 ready-made templates to help companies get started digitally.

It can be helpful to switch from paper to a digital means of record keeping. The paper tags that are usually found attached to the extinguisher’s handle are susceptible to water damage and tearing that could result in the loss of documentation. Keeping an electronic file ensures the information won’t be lost to outside factors.

It’s a good idea to keep a digital track record of who performed the inspection, which extinguisher was checked (noting the serial number), and if the inspection was performed at the designated time.

Learn more about how to best use Lumiform’s fire inspection software. We’ve prepared templates for your fire extinguisher checklists that you can customize and use immediately with the app.

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Fire extinguisher undergoing a safety maintenance check
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