A portable fire extinguisher is one of your most important job site safety tools, as well as at your home too. However, it doesn’t do us any good to know how to use one if we don’t keep it easily accessible and properly charged. This week’s safety topic will brush up your skills and remind us all how to store, use and up keep a portable fire extinguisher.
Here are are some handy tips to ensure fire extinguishers are maintained and ready for use:
Maintain a clear and unobstructed path to portable fire extinguishers at all times. Store pallets, tool boxes, trash cans, or any other equipment or materials elsewhere as to not obstruct the path to the fire extinguishers.
A portable extinguisher IS NOT a coat rack, nor should you hang equipment or devices such as extension cords or air hoses over an extinguisher. Although it may seem like a convenient way to store these items, it will only serve to slow someone down if they need to quickly gain access to the extinguisher to put out a fire.
Once a month conduct a visual inspection of each extinguisher. Ensure the needle on the pressure-activated extinguishers is pointing in the green “FULL” portion of the dial. Report any that are not so they can be charged.
Schedule yearly maintenance and inspection from a third party entity and make sure the unit is properly tagged after inspection. Make sure these tags remain attached to the extinguisher. Report any untagged extinguisher to your supervisor. It will need to be checked to make certain it has been inspected.
After an extinguisher has been used to fight a fire, it must be turned in for inspection and recharging. Even if only the retainer pin was pulled, but the unit was not discharged, it must be inspected. Even just pulling the pin can inadvertently break the seal that maintains the pressure inside the extinguisher, which could cause it to lose pressure and not function when needed in the future.
So anytime you see a portable fire extinguisher that is inaccessible, not fully charged, or just looks like it may have been damaged in some way, please rectify the problem or let your supervisor know right away so it can be corrected. The same thing applies if you ever notice that an extinguisher is not hanging in its designated place.
Safety is our best tool!