Fire Extinguishers in the Workplace

A portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives; but portable extinguishers have limitations. Because fire grows and spreads so rapidly, the number 1 priority for residents is to get out safely.
Service & Maintenance Requirements
Annual Maintenance
Annual maintenance, servicing, and recharging shall be performed by trained persons having available:
  • Appropriate servicing manuals
  • Lubricants
  • Manufacturer's recommended replacement parts or parts specifically listed for use in the fire extinguisher
  • Proper types of tools
  • Recharge materials
Top of a fire extinguisher
Monthly Owner Quick Check
Minimal knowledge is necessary to perform a monthly quick check or inspection in order to follow the inspection procedure as outlined below. Record of monthly inspection must be kept. Often, the reverse side of the Annual Service tag has an area to record date and signature of the person conducting the inspection.

Monthly Checklist

Monthly inspection of fire extinguishers shall include a check of at least the following items:
  • Condition of tires, wheels, carriage, hose, and nozzle checked (for wheeled units)
  • Examination for obvious physical damage, corrosion, leakage, or clogged nozzle
  • Fullness determined by weighing or "hefting"
  • Hazardous Materials Identification System (HMIS) label in place
  • Location in designated place safety pin
  • No obstruction to access or visibility
  • Operating instructions on nameplate legible and facing outward
  • Pressure gauge reading or indicator in the operable range or position
  • Safety seals and tamper indicators not broken or missing
What Is Fire?
The short answer is that fire is a chemical reaction involving rapid oxidation or burning of a fuel. It needs 4 elements to occur:
  • Fuel - Fuel can be any combustible material - solid, liquid or gas. Most solids and liquids become a vapor or gas before they will burn.
  • Oxygen - The air we breathe is about 21% oxygen. Fire only needs an atmosphere with at least 16% oxygen.
  • Heat - Heat is the energy necessary to increase the temperature of the fuel to a point where sufficient vapors are given off for ignition to occur.
  • Chemical Chain Reaction - A chain reaction can occur when the 3 elements of fire are present in the proper conditions and proportions. Fire occurs when this rapid oxidation or burning takes place.
Take any of these factors away and the fire cannot occur or will be extinguished if it was already burning.