ABC dry power: Advice for business owners

Midland Fire Ltd

To ensure your properties are compliant to the current British standard, it is imperative that somebody within the organisation completes a weekly visual inspection, of all of your fire protection equipment, whether that person is the business owner or an appointed “responsible person” in charge of fire safety. 

There are several things which must be checked every week. Firstly, to check the fire extinguishers are correctly located. They must be wall mounted or standing on an approved red extinguisher stand. All extinguishers must have an identity sign above, depicting what type of fire extinguisher it is, what it can, and cannot be used for.

There must be a safety pin present, which prevents the operating handle being accidentally pressed. Each extinguisher must also have a “tamper seal” in place.

The needle within the pressure gauge must be pointing north and fall within the green areas. (In a 12 o’clock position).

All fire protection equipment must be tested at least once a year by a certified service engineer who is competent and licenced in this field.

The process of annually testing each extinguisher is, firstly to assess and record the weight before comparing to the previous recorded weight, this will establish whether there is any content missing from the extinguisher which may highlight that a refill is required.  

Then a a of pressure gauge must be carried out, test should be completed using small amounts of compressed air, forcing the needle to move very slightly within the gauge, the needle should return by itself to the green zone.

After this the extinguisher should be emptied of it must be depressurised and all its s pxtinguishing contents which we place emptied into a bucket in order that a check can be carried out on the inside extinguisher, reusing the existing water if possible.

Within each extinguisher there is a silicone lining protecting the metal from rust, over time, particularly with water-based equipment, liquid can stagnate and stagnate and lining, force this silicone lining to bubble and potentially come away from the metal surface. This can cause an obstruction if left unchecked which will prevent the extinguisher from operating correctly.

Having completed the inspection of the inside of the body; the head assembly, operating handle, and the hose must now be checked must then be checked, making sure the handle has free, and easy, unobstructive and, unhindered movement cleaning any debris with a small-headed wire brush. Using the working mechanism of the valve within the handle / head assembly to do a blow-test of the hosepipe ensuring a free flow of air, also visually checking the rubber for deterioration, which can lead to leakage. Once this is complete the fire extinguisher can be refilled, repressurised and then it can go back into service for another twelve months unobstructed.

The head assembly should be cleaned with a small brush, removing any debris which could prevent normal operation.

Utilising the one-way valve in the head, a blow-test can be performed whilst testing the length of the hose for blockages and inspecting the rubber for deterioration.

Once these checks have been completed the extinguisher can be rebuilt, refilled and eventually repressurised before going back into service for another twelve months.