If you were in a public building or workplace and a fire broke out, what is the first object you would look for? Most of us would immediately search for a fire extinguisher. We know most buildings have to display at least one. We pass them multiple times a day when we’re out shopping, working at the office or visiting leisure centers. They’re always there.
But did you know fire extinguishers are only reliable if kept well maintained? Older extinguishers require recharging and, without it, there’s no guarantee they’ll function when they’re needed. It’s why every public building in the state should find a St. Louis fire extinguisher recharge specialist to maintain their devices.
If you own a business, it’s important to be aware of recharging and its purpose. It is an essential part of extinguisher maintenance and, therefore, your responsibility as a provider of safe fire control devices. Ignoring maintenance needs puts the lives of customers and employees at risk.
Why Do Fire Extinguishers Need to Be Recharged?
The common misconception is fire extinguishers need to be recharged only if they have been activated. While it’s true that used devices need to be refilled, aging devices also require attention. The majority of fire extinguishers need a precautionary recharge between six and twelve years after installation. This is the case whether or not they have been used.
One reason for this is gradual depressurization. Over time, gases in a device can escape in small amounts causing the substances inside to become less potent. When a fire breaks out and the emergency extinguisher is desperately needed, you may find its pressure has been lost and only a thin trickle of foam emerges.
This situation can be easily avoided by scheduling maintenance checks with a St. Louis fire extinguisher recharge specialist. When inspecting devices for damage and dysfunction, always look at the pressure gauge. If the gauge’s needle is above or below the ‘safe’ area (usually presented in green) indicated, you need to take it to a recharging expert.
What Happens When a Fire Extinguisher is Recharged?
Firstly, you should not attempt to recharge a fire extinguisher by yourself unless you are qualified to do so. It takes a particular type of skill and trained experts are the only ones who can do it safely. Not only do you risk injury to yourself by recharging a device without the proper training, but you could also cause the extinguisher to malfunction.
To recharge a fire extinguisher, the trained professional first neutralizes the pressure inside the device. The active substance inside is then extracted. The discharge trigger gets lifted away from the outer casing. Following this, the siphon tube, valve spring and valve stem are carefully extracted also.
The recharging professional should inspect and clean (where necessary) each individual component removed from the device. After which, they can scrutinize the inside of the extinguisher for damage and leaks. If no problems are identified and the outer casing is intact, they will replace the valve stem to ensure maximum pressurization when the device is reactivated, ready for use.
Once the new stem is in place, the technician can refill the cylinder with a dousing agent. Some extinguishers use water but, these days, most contemporary devices contain carbon dioxide or an extinguishing dry chemical. The precise volume and weight of this substance will be unique to the type of extinguisher. This is another reason it’s important not to try and handle the job without training.
Finally, the extinguisher is fully re-pressurized using a gaseous substance such as oxygen-free nitrogen or dry air. The unit is pressurized according to its manufacturer’s strict instructions, so the amount of added air or nitrogen is very precise. After the device is pressurized and active, the last task is to conduct an additional leak inspection and replace the discharge nozzle.
In most cases, a recharge note is attached to the extinguisher with pertinent details about the process. The date is the most important addition. It clearly indicates when the device was last inspected and, therefore, when it should be inspected and recharged again.