Any reputable and reliable manufacturer/retailer will offer a guarantee or warranty with their extinguishers. So if the extinguisher is guaranteed, for say five years, then does that mean it doesn’t need servicing?
Guaranteed extinguishers do still need annual servicing to be completed by a professional when in workplaces, public buildings, and rented accommodation.
Many factors can have an effect on the operation of an extinguisher. They may have been tampered with, accidentally damaged, and the environment around them can also have a negative impact. Even UV exposure can cause components to deteriorate.
Plus servicing also takes into account whether extinguishers are located appropriately.
There is no replacement for annual fire extinguisher servicing. Even service-free extinguishers can require a little maintenance.
What Do The British Standards Say?
Under the British Standard Code of Practice, BS 5306:3 2009, it is recommended that a new extinguisher is commissioned prior to installation. When carried out by a competent person, they will ensure there was no damage during transit.
Irrespective of the British Standard, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 makes annual maintenance a legal requirement.
If you hire five or more people in your business, you need to have a written record that this work is carried out. That way, you are able to demonstrate that you have taken all reasonable steps to ensure equipment is effective and in good working order.
After five years (or ten for CO2 extinguishers), an extended service is then required. This requires discharging the extinguisher to check it is operational and then refilling the unit.
At this point, however, it may be worth comparing the costs of the extended service with the costs of purchasing new equipment. It can often prove more cost-effective.
When you buy a brand new car, an MOT is not required for three years. However, it is still essential that the car is serviced as appropriate. That way, it is kept in tip-top condition and any potential flaws are identified early. So think of it as the same with your fire extinguishers. With devices which are integral to everyday life, where safety is of the utmost importance, you’d expect nothing less.
It is also possible that in order for the extinguisher to remain within warranty/guarantee conditions, annual servicing needs to be carried out.
After all, an extinguisher is manufactured in line with the British Standards. And it is essential that the responsible person ensures the extinguishers are kept in the conditions which are expected of them.
Of course, if a major fault is discovered within the guarantee time, you are completely within your rights to expect a replacement. And any honest company will do that without quibble.
An extinguisher which is well maintained and serviced could potentially save lives for up to ten years, and sometimes even longer.
So although a warranty gives you greater protection as a buyer, you must still ensure you’re looking after equipment as the responsible person.
Plus servicing will inform you of any issues with the extinguisher, and it is far better to have a warning, rather than waiting until it’s too late.