Fire extinguishers, silent sentinels of safety, often sit unnoticed in the corner of a room. Yet, in the face of danger, they become the immediate line of defense against fires.
Unfortunately, there’s a sea of misinformation about their care and use. Let’s debunk some of these myths.
Myth 1: Once Installed, Fire Extinguishers Last Indefinitely
The Myth: There’s a pervasive belief that once a fire extinguisher is set up, it’s good to go forever. After all, it’s an emergency device; shouldn’t it always be ready for action?
Reality: Fire extinguishers aren’t immune to wear and tear. Even in ideal conditions, their internal components and materials can degrade over time. For instance, O-rings and seals within the device can deteriorate, leading to a loss of pressure. The extinguishing agent itself can settle or become less effective over time.
External factors can also influence an extinguisher’s lifespan. Extinguishers in environments with high humidity, temperature fluctuations, or corrosive atmospheres may suffer accelerated degradation.
Myth 2: All Fire Extinguishers are the Same
The Myth: With their similar outward appearances, it’s easy to assume all fire extinguishers are identical.
Reality: Fire extinguishers are categorized based on the specific types of fires they’re designed to combat. The categories, ranging from Class A to Class K, are tailored for different materials like wood, flammable liquids, or electrical equipment.
Each class uses a distinct extinguishing agent optimized for the fire it targets. For instance, a water-based extinguisher may be perfect for a paper fire but could be catastrophic if used on an electrical fire.
Myth 3: The Pressure Gauge Is the Only Thing You Need to Check
The Myth: The pressure gauge, with its easily readable green zone, may seem like the single checkpoint for an extinguisher’s health.
Reality: The pressure gauge is undeniably crucial; it indicates whether the extinguisher is under-pressured, over-pressured, or within the optimal range. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fire extinguisher maintenance.
The body of the extinguisher should be checked for rust, dents, or other signs of damage. The pin and tamper seal should be intact. Hoses and nozzles should be inspected for cracks, blockages, or other damage that could impede their function.
Internal examination is also vital. Over time, the agent inside can settle or compact, especially in dry chemical extinguishers. This could prevent it from discharging correctly.
While the pressure gauge is a critical visual checkpoint, it’s not the only one. The importance of comprehensive, professional, and timely fire extinguisher inspection and maintenance cannot be ignored.
Myth 4: If It’s Not Used, It Doesn’t Need Servicing
The Myth: Many believe that if a fire extinguisher sits unused on a wall without being activated, it remains in ready-to-use condition indefinitely.
Reality: A fire extinguisher’s efficiency isn’t just affected by its use but also by the passage of time and environmental conditions. Just because an extinguisher has never been discharged doesn’t mean its internal components have remained untouched by wear, corrosion, or degradation.
Recommended Read: Understanding the Risks of Overdue Fire Extinguisher Inspection
Myth 5: Fire Extinguisher Care Is a DIY Job
The Myth: Owing to the prevalence of online tutorials and DIY guides, many businesses believe they can undertake fire extinguisher maintenance and servicing themselves.
Reality: While certain basic visual checks can be performed by anyone, comprehensive maintenance is best left to certified professionals. Fire extinguishers are intricate devices; incorrect handling or servicing can compromise their efficiency or even render them dangerous.
While DIY checks can supplement professional care, they can’t replace the expertise and equipment that certified technicians bring to the table.
Access Fire Protection to the Rescue
Effective fire extinguisher care is deeply rooted in consistent inspection and maintenance. Fire extinguishers play a critical role in ensuring our safety; their care shouldn’t be based on misconceptions.
Whether you’re interested in fire extinguisher maintenance for hospitals, warehouses, or any other commercial/industrial facility, contact us today. We serve clients across Tacoma and all of Pierce County as well as Seattle and the rest of King County.