Fire Extinguisher Safety




Last week a neighbor needed their fire extinguisher to put out a small fire in the trash bin which fortunately was sitting away from the storage shed. I say fortunate in that by the time a working extinguisher was found the fire had grown in size any part of a building that was near it would have been engulfed in flames. Adding to the initial panic was the first extinguisher found was so old the pressure had leaked some time ago. When a second unit was located around the corner of the house in the car port this trash fire was so big, they could not get close enough to use the extinguisher in safety. The trash is now a pile of ashes, the bin is a melted mound of plastic, no one was hurt except for someone’s ego.


All this gives me the idea for today’s SAFE SOLUTIONS blog topic.


  • For home and apartment folks, mark on your calendars reminders every 6 months that you must check your fire extinguisher(s) for:
  • Where they are located and that you can get to it quickly with out having to move boxes, plants lawn equipment or tons of toys.
  • In businesses having access is just as vital and wall signage is required in any work place so the extinguisher can be seen from a distance. No items are to be placed within 3 feet of the extinguisher which is a good idea for home if you can do that.
  • For most purposes the ABC rated extinguisher will be fine. There are other types which are rated for gasoline or fuel areas, electronics, chemical and compressed paper or fabric bundles to name a few.
  • When you do find your extinguisher make sure it can be removed from the wall hanger with ease.
  • Fire extinguishers have a safety pin (metal or plastic) inserted in the handle to prevent accidental discharge when picking the extinguisher up. Leave this pin inserted unless you will be using the system. Most include a plastic safety strip holding the pin in place this is easily pulled off so the pin can be removed.
  • When you inspect the extinguisher look for any major dents on the cylinder, bent handle, a broken or any damage to the gauge or even rust. If in doubt bring it in for us to check out for you.
  • Look at the gauge to see where the needle is pointed at, it needs to be in the green triangle.   If not centered the extinguisher may have been used and is empty or the pressure has leaked over time. This tells you it is time to replace the extinguisher now.
  • If the gauge needle is in the green then its time to shake things up a bit. Yes, invert the extinguisher back and forth a few times to loosen the powder inside. You will feel the powder move this tells you it is loose not packed into a solid cake from standing for months on end.
  • Take a look inside the chrome nozzle or the end of the black tubing to be sure no tiny bug has set up housekeeping inside the tip. They often love the tiny dark places to build nests.
  • Look on the label for the date of manufacture or with some brands the date is stamped in the metal on the base of the extinguisher.
  • The national standards say at the end of 6 years the extinguisher needs to have a 6-year test which includes emptying and replacing of components then recharging to assure safe operation when needed.
  • In our opinion it is less expensive to just replace the old unit with a new extinguisher and it is faster to do this.
  • Do not toss your old extinguisher out into the dumpster unless it has been discharged and all pressure has been used up.
  • Use the old unit for teaching someone who has never used one before, this will give them a good hands-on experience. Don’t do this inside unless you want to spend hours and hours cleaning up all the powder which will get into all the hidden spaces in your home.
  • If in doubt about any of this inspection bring your extinguisher into a dealer like us for inspection or replacement. Some cannot be recharged and there may be a disposal fee but you are told of any costs in advance.
  • Always use common sense in the event of a fire, get everyone out of the building or area first to a safe place, call 911 so the fire department can inspect the structure to be sure there is not any hidden hot spots still smoldering.

We will post more fire safety information in our SAFE SOLUTIONS in the future. I will appreciate hearing any comments or suggestions you may have on this or other topics you would like us to talk about. Send them to me