Busting Fire Extinguisher Myths

As with many of life’s important topics, people turn to the internet these days to get answers. And while the internet has surely provided civilization with some benefits, it’s not widely regulated in terms of the information and advice it offers.

When it comes to fire safety, misinformation could cost lives. That’s why this month, at Millennium Fire Protection, we’re going to bust a few of the common myths around fire extinguishers. This will hopefully keep you on the right path when it comes to protecting both your building and the people within.

Remember, if you’re ever unsure and have questions about fire extinguishers, just give our professional team a call!

The Myth: Fire extinguishers must be replaced after 10 years

The Truth: While this one is a myth, because it’s not absolutely official that you have to replace a fire extinguisher after a decade, it is used as a general marker by BAFE. 

Do fire extinguishers expire? Eventually, they all do, but BAFE recommends certain extinguisher types, such as CO2 extinguishers, be replaced after 10 years. On the other hand, with regular servicing and maintenance, most extinguishers can last up to 20 years. The important thing is to replace them when they have been used or damaged to ensure you always have adequate protection.

The Myth: Any unused fire extinguisher will always work

The Truth: An unused fire extinguisher should work, but only if it has been serviced at regular intervals and hasn’t sustained any kind of damage, so the statement above is a myth. This is why inspections and maintenance are important.

The Myth: Fire extinguishers must be mounted on the wall

The Truth: While fire extinguishers are commonly mounted on the wall to keep them out of the way, this isn’t the only position you can have them in. Floor stands are also available to keep extinguishers secure and positioned strategically within your building. This is also useful if there are restrictions in place, such as those for listed buildings.

closeup red fire extinguisher with soft-focus and over light in the background

The Myth: You can tap a fire extinguisher to keep it primed

The Truth: For some reason, there seems to be a myth about tapping fire extinguishers to keep them working. This may have originated from someone tapping a unit to see if it felt full, but it’s certainly not the way you maintain a fire extinguisher — nor do we recommend tapping one with any kind of force, as you could damage it. Instead, book your extinguishers for maintenance with a qualified professional to keep them primed.

The Myth: You only need one fire extinguisher in your building

The Truth: This is completely false on several levels. Firstly, there are different types of fire extinguishers to meet different fire classes depending on the fuel involved, which means you might need a combination of units. For example, a powder fire extinguisher and a CO2 extinguisher will ensure you can also safely tackle small electrical fires as well as general fires. Secondly, the actual number you need will depend on the risks involved and the size of your premises, something a fire safety expert can advise you on — only extremely small, low-risk businesses will need just a single extinguisher.

You can learn more about why it’s important to use the right extinguisher in our previous post.

The Myth: All fire extinguishers must be red

The Truth: This is completely false, but an understandable misconception for fire extinguisher colours. Most fire extinguishers are red, with a coloured label to tell you which type of fire extinguisher it is for different risks. However, polished fire extinguishers, giving a silver colour thanks to the use of stainless steel, are available if you require a different option for aesthetic purposes.

The Myth: Anyone can use a fire extinguisher

The Truth: A fire extinguisher should be utilised by anyone who feels confident enough to tackle a small fire. However, there is a little training required for this, helping to avoid any panic. That’s why we recommend investing in fire safety training for your staff. How do fire extinguishers work? Here’s the PASS system to help as a quick reference:

  1. Pull the pin out of the top of the extinguisher
  2. Aim the hose or nozzle towards the base of the flames
  3. Squeeze the handle to release the extinguishant
  4. Sweep the unit from side to side until the flames are fully extinguished.


Here at Millennium Fire Protection, you can count on our team of fire safety specialists. With over a decade of experience helping keep people safe in Harrow, Ealing, Watford and the surrounding areas, you can find all the common fire extinguisher types in our range. All our extinguishers are manufactured to BS EN3 and bear the British Standard Kitemark, and if you need any advice on how many you should have or the right units for the risks in your building, then don’t hesitate to contact us. 

Call now for more information on any of our services and how they can help you to remain legally compliant.