Fire Extinguisher Recharge
After every single use, a fire extinguisher needs to be recharged. Each recharge only takes a few minutes but without one then the extinguisher may not be capable of being used to tackle a fire. Some fire departments will have the correct equipment to recharge fire extinguishers whilst others will have to make use of recharge facilities elsewhere. You may decide to do the fire extinguisher recharging yourself, or you may opt to have a professional do it for you. Either way here are a few things that have to be done to complete the processes.
Before Starting the Recharge
Prior to you starting the process of recharging a fire extinguisher you will need to identify what type it is. There are four different classes of extinguisher from A through to D. Class A extinguishers are to be used in tackling fires featuring plastics, paper, rubber, and wood.
The B, C and D class or the combined ABC are generally in red cylinders. The B and C class extinguishers contain carbon dioxide (CO2) or with dry chemicals. These are used in electrical, oil-based, grease or petrol-based fires. Class D contains dry powders and is used to tackle fires caused by, or made worse by flammable metals. On no account must water be used on any of the fires these extinguishers are used to fight, as water would spread the flames instead of putting them out.
Double-check which liquid or material goes into each class of cylinder as putting water in the wrong ones could be disastrous when tackling fires.
The Discharging of Extinguishers
Whenever a fire extinguisher has been used, whether partially or fully it needs to be refilled or recharged. Even only a small amount was used the remaining powder or water needs to be emptied or discharged. To empty simply hold down the handle and wait for everything to come out.
A half-empty extinguisher is not safe to tackle fires with so recharge cylinders once these are completely empty.
The Cleaning and Checking of Extinguishers
After making sure that the cylinder is completely empty it is time to clean and check the extinguisher before attempting to recharge it. Such checks will indicate whether the extinguisher is in full working order, needs to have parts repaired or replaced. Should the cylinder and other parts such as the lever, O ring or hose look too worn or damaged the extinguisher can be brought back to working order with replacement parts or repairs. If it cannot be brought back to the required standard then the whole thing needs to be replaced.
The seal should always be checked, put the cylinder underwater and if bubbles appear then there is a leak. In such cases replace the O ring and the seal should be watertight again.
The Charging and Refilling of Extinguishers
If you are recharging or refilling cylinders by yourself then you will need to ensure that you are able to use a pressurizing machine as well as being able to refill the cylinders with water, foam or dry powder.
A widely available pressurizing machine, the Fireade 2000 will allow you to refill fire extinguishers. Then you fill a bucket with foam, powder or water and use the pressurizer to pump it into the extinguisher.
Continue to pump into the cylinder until the pressure is showing that it is in the green zone, roughly between 100 and 175 psi.
Finishing it off
Once the material has been recharged at the correct pressure again check for leaks, and replace the seal if required. Now the extinguisher is recharged and ready to use in case of emergency.