When do I need to replace my fire extinguishers?
Most fire extinguishers sold by chandleries are Powder type. Conventional advice is that they should be ‘Serviced’ once a year. In practise, for small manual extinguishers of 1 kg capacity, this is not a highly technical process. The examiner will carry out various visual checks such as checking the nozzle is clear, ensure there is no surface corrosion on the casing and shake the unit to hear the powder moving inside and not solidified. The unit will also be check weighed against the manufactured weight to check for any leakage. If there is a pressure gauge it will be checked to see it it is still in the green zone.
These are all things that the boat owner can do for him or herself. However, the problem with a DIY regime is that there will be no service record sticker with a service engineers signature and if there is an incident your insurance company may consider the fire fighting equipment has not been properly maintained.
After five years from the manufacturing date things do get a bit more complicated. After that period the examination should include a discharge test. This is just what it sounds, the extinguisher is set off. If it works satisfactorily it will be refilled and re charged. The problem is nearly all small manual units up to 2 kgs cannot be re-charged so effectively they are expired. They will need to be replaced.