Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Fire Extinguisher Maintenance 101

Bison Fire's Extinguisher Maintenance 101

If you run a business in Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan, then it’s likely that you already know how important it is to ensure that your fire extinguishers are properly maintained.

However, if you’ve never had to use your fire extinguishers before, then it’s possible that you’ve had the same fire extinguisher for a number of years.

So this begs the all-important question: how long will those portable fire extinguishers last before they have to be replaced?

Have You Been Maintaining Your Extinguisher?

One of the more important aspects of making sure your portable fire extinguisher will always work when you need it most is to make sure that you don’t neglect your fire extinguisher maintenance.

If you’ve had the same fire extinguisher for a while (10 - 12 years, for example) one way to test its current condition is to have it hydrostatically tested. Hydrostatic tests expose your fire extinguisher to high pressure, typically around 500psi, which tests the integrity of the shell.

If the shell holds up, then you can confidently keep your current fire extinguisher for a few more years before it needs to be replaced.

What Can Go Wrong With Your Fire Extinguisher?

Some of the most common problems with portable fire extinguishers include:

  • A crack has caused compressed air to escape. Weakened seals around the neck of your fire extinguisher may have allowed compressed air to escape, which can prevent the extinguisher from working properly.
  • The chemical powder has become packed-down. If you have a dry chemical fire extinguisher, there’s a chance that the chemical powder may have become packed down and compressed. If this happens, you’ll need expert assistance to empty and recharge the extinguisher.

Are You Worried About the Integrity of Your Fire Extinguisher?

If you’re worried about the integrity of your fire extinguisher, there are a few common warning signs that you can look for in order to determine if servicing is needed. These include:

  • The safety pin is missing, or unsealed.
  • The fire extinguisher hose or nozzle is clogged, ripped, or cracked.
  • The handle is wobbly, or broken.
  • The most recent inspection tag is missing.

How to Safely Dispose of a Fire Extinguisher

Because fire extinguishers are kept under pressure and filled with chemicals, they can’t just be thrown in the trash if they are no longer safe or fit for use.

Below are the steps you need to know in order to safely dispose of your portable fire extinguisher:

  • Call the fire department to see if they will take your extinguisher and recharge or replace it.
  • If the fire department won’t take it, then you need to deposit your fire extinguisher at your closest hazardous waste disposal facility.

If your fire extinguisher is empty:

  • Start by squeezing the lever to make sure that all the extinguishant has been released.
  • Remove the fire extinguisher head so it’s clear that the contents have been removed.
  • Take the steel fire extinguisher to your closest recycling facility, or dispose of the empty canister in your recycling bin.

By properly taking care of your fire extinguisher you can ensure that your home or business is well-protected from fires for years to come.

If you operate a business in Winnipeg, Brandon, Thompson, Kenora, Saskatoon, or Regina and are looking to know more about how to protect your investment from fire damage, contact the experts at Bison Fire Protection by calling 866-441-3473 today to schedule an appointment with a fire safety experts.

Posted by Rob Read at 2:17 PM 0 Comments

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

The Basics of Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher Inspections

Bison Fire's Basics of a Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher

When was the last time you had your dry chemical fire extinguisher inspected?

A fire extinguisher that hasn’t been well-maintained is more dangerous than not having a fire extinguisher at all, as the valuable seconds you may spend trying to get it to work might literally mean the difference between life and death.

This is why fire extinguisher maintenance is so important - but it’s critical that your inspections and maintenance are done correctly.

Below is a comprehensive overview of what your fire protection expert should do in order to perform a thorough inspection on your dry chemical fire extinguisher.

The Visual Inspection

The first step to assessing your fire extinguisher is to do a visual inspection. They’ll begin by making sure that the pressure gauge is in the green zone, and will often wipe the fire extinguisher with a cloth to check for dents, rust, and any other damage on the shell of the extinguisher.

The next step is to remove the hose and blow air through it in order to ensure that there’s no dust present in the tube. Afterward the handle, pull pin, and valve head assembly will be assessed in order to ensure that everything is in place and nothing like the pull pin is missing or damaged.

Your inspector will also check the instruction-nameplate, which must be in place and easily readable, as it contains all the important information about your extinguisher, including:

  • Letters and pictures of the classes of fires the extinguisher can extinguish.
  • The rating number which indicates extinguishing capability.
  • Details on how much dry chemical should be in the extinguisher.
  • Temperatures at which the extinguisher will operate.

Hydrostatic Testing

A hydrostatic test is something we’ve discussed here on the Bison Fire Protection blog before, but to quickly recap, your fire extinguisher is pressurized to test pressure and make sure that there are no hairline cracks or pinhole heals, and that the cylinder can maintain pressure without cracking and breaking.

Once the test is complete, the extinguisher will need to be dried out and updated with a test sticker to indicate that it has been tested.

The Six-Year Teardown

A six-year teardown is also often referred to as an “internal inspection.” The extinguisher will be broken down and completely emptied of the dry chemical powder.

At this point all of the components will be cleaned, any defective parts will be replaced, and the fire extinguisher will be reassembled.

Why a Gross Weight Check Matters

The final step to a comprehensive dry chemical fire extinguisher inspection will be to weigh the fully charged extinguisher.

This is referred to as the “gross weight check” because it takes into account the entire unit: hose, nozzle, pin, tamper seal, valve head, and of course the dry chemical component as well. For reference, a 5lb ABC fire extinguisher will sometimes display instructions that read like this:

“Fill with five pounds of ABC dry chemical for a gross weight of 8 lbs. 5 oz +- 8 oz.”

This means that the lowest gross weight the fire extinguisher can have is 7lbs, 13oz. Any lighter will mean that the inspector didn’t top up the dry chemical, or may not have used a scale. This is why it’s critical to work with trained experts like the technicians at Bison Fire Protection to ensure that your dry chemical fire extinguishers are always well-maintained and ready to be used at a moment’s notice.

If you operate a business in Winnipeg, Brandon, Thompson, Kenora, Saskatoon, or Regina and are looking to know more about how to make sure your dry chemical fire extinguishers are properly maintained, contact the experts at Bison Fire Protection by calling 866-441-3473 or email at info@bisonfire.com today and we’ll visit your business to provide a thorough assessment.

Posted by Rob Read at 9:41 AM 0 Comments