When to Replace Your Fire Extinguisher
Your fire extinguisher should be replaced when the seal around the neck is weakened or broken down, allowing the compressed air to escape. This will lower the pressure in the fire extinguisher and cause it to malfunction. It should also be replaced if the chemical powder in your fire extinguisher settles on the bottom and gets packed down. If this happens, a professional fire protection services company can empty and recharge your fire extinguisher so you won’t have to replace it. You should also replace your fire extinguisher if the hose or nozzle is cracked, ripped, or clogged; the pin is missing or unsealed; the handle is broken or wobbly or the inspection tag is missing.
How to Dispose of Your Fire Extinguisher
Since they are full of pressurized chemicals, fire extinguishers can’t simply be thrown in the trash. You need to take certain steps to make sure your extinguisher is safe. If the fire extinguisher is not empty, call the fire department and see if you can drop it off at the firehouse. If the fire department doesn’t take it, take your fire extinguisher to your nearest hazardous waste disposal facility. If the fire extinguisher is empty, squeeze the lever to make sure that all of the pressure has been released. Remove the fire extinguisher head so that whoever disposes of the extinguisher knows that all of the contents have been removed. Once the fire extinguisher is completely empty and the head has been removed, most recycling facilities should accept the steel body.
Do Not Use an Expired Fire Extinguisher
You should never use an expired fire extinguisher. However, with proper care and maintenance, your fire extinguisher should be able to last 10 to 12 years.
Fire Sprinklers Vs. Automatic Extinguishers
Fire sprinklers are required by building codes in most areas in the US and are still a highly effective method of putting out fires. Industrial and residential fire sprinkler systems alike have a pressurized water supply that activates when the sprinkler head is triggered by heat (the same method as an automatic fire extinguisher). Fire sprinkler systems engage locally, meaning they will only go off in the area of a fire. In most settings, fire sprinkler systems are an almost perfect means of defense against fire. However, the water released by the sprinklers can cause substantial damage—almost as much as a fire itself. For certain applications, such as electrical rooms and rooms with sensitive or fragile equipment, the risk of water damage is too great. In these cases, automatic fire extinguishers using gas or dry chemical agents are much better suited.