Should I Test My Fire Extinguishers?

Did you recently install portable fire extinguishers in your New York building? These are an important part of limiting property damage and saving lives if a fire breaks out. Of course, your extinguishers are only effective if the canisters are properly charged and fully functional. You might be wondering whether you should test your fire extinguishers by discharging a small amount every so often. The short answer is no. Here’s why.

Why Avoid DIY Fire Extinguisher Testing?

Discharging even a little fire extinguishing agent during a DIY test can decrease the pressure in the canister. Since full pressure is vital for giving you the best chance of fighting a small fire before it grows out of control, DIY testing can make your extinguisher useless in a real emergency.

Professional Hydrostatic Testing Is a Must

You should never test your fire extinguisher yourself, but that doesn’t mean all testing is frowned upon. In fact, NFPA 10 Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers requires a process called hydrostatic testing.

Why is hydrostatic testing necessary?

The chemicals stored under pressure inside a fire extinguisher can eventually damage the canister. The purpose of hydrostatic testing is to ensure that the shell, nozzle, and hose are all in good working order to help prevent unwanted failure or rupturing. Because this test requires specialized equipment and training, only a professional can perform the service.

What is hydrostatic testing?

The test begins by emptying the fire extinguisher of its pressurized contents. Then, it’s filled with colored water and brought up to a high pressure for about 30 seconds. The shell must contain the pressure for one minute (or the amount of time indicated by the manufacturer) while a team inspects the tank for leaks, bulging, or other signs of metal fatigue. On some models, the hose must also be hydrostatically tested.

How often is hydrostatic testing needed?

Professional testing is required every five years for pressurized water, wet chemical, and carbon dioxide fire extinguishers. The test is required every 12 years for dry chemical extinguishers.

Non-rechargeable canisters are the exception to the rule. These must be removed from service 12 years after the date of manufacture. The same goes for any rechargeable extinguishers that fail the hydrostatic test.

Monthly DIY Fire Extinguisher Inspections Are Recommended

Rather than checking the functionality of a fire extinguisher by discharging it slightly, simply inspect the exterior of the tank for any visible signs of damage or defects. Once a month, follow these steps:

  • Make sure the extinguishers are easy to access and installed in the proper locations.
  • Check that the pin is intact, tamper seal is unbroken, and nozzle is not clogged.
  • Make sure the canister isn’t physically damaged, corroded, or leaking.
  • Read the pressure gauge. The arrow should point to the green to indicate a full charge. Lift the extinguisher to see whether it feels full.
  • Make sure the operating instructions are legible and facing outward.
  • Check the date on the tag, and call Fire Guys NY if it’s been more than 12 months since your last professional fire extinguisher inspection.

Request Fire Extinguisher Testing in New York

If the time has come for a hydrostatic test, let Fire Guys NY handle the job. We’re up-to-date with the latest NFPA 10 requirements, so you can rest assured that we’ll help your business stay code compliant. We also perform yearly inspections, recharge services, installations, and replacement of damaged fire extinguishers. Choose us for all your fire protection needs!

Contact Fire Guys NY online or call us at (631) 253-0138 today to request fire extinguisher services.