Should You Use An Expired Fire Extinguisher?

Fire extinguishers are vital elements of every building’s fire safety procedures. Hopefully, you’ll never be required to use one but in the event you do, they can prevent significant damage to a property, serious injury and burns and even save lives. 

With this in mind, it’s important they’re always in good working order. Maintenance of fire extinguishers is key to keeping them working effectively and ensuring no issues occur when you need them most. Monthly and annual inspections and services are a good way to check the condition of your fire extinguishers, but it’s equally important to understand when they need replacing and have expired. 

In this article, we’ll be exploring whether you should use an expired fire extinguisher, and the signs you should be looking out for that may indicate your extinguisher is past its best. 

water fire extinguisher inspection

Should you use an expired fire extinguisher

There is no set expiry date for fire extinguishers and, instead, they should be treated on a case by case basis. Typically, the life of a fire extinguisher varies depending on the quality and reliability of the manufacturer. Regular maintenance and, if necessary, refills, can help prolong the life of a fire extinguisher, but as a general guide you should think about replacing your extinguisher every 10 years.

Every fire extinguisher will include the date it was manufactured somewhere on it, so check the neck, base and centre of the unit to discover how old it is. While some fire extinguishers may last beyond 10 years, they may start to develop more faults and it may be more cost-effective to simply replace them with new units.   

In order to check whether or not your fire extinguisher has expired and needs replacing, a responsible person in your organisation should carry out monthly inspections and you should hire a professional once a year to carry out a full service of all units on your premises.  

Signs you should dispose of your fire extinguisher

Over time, fire extinguishers will begin to show their age with signs of wear and tear. While some issues can be fixed, there are some that will mean a fire extinguisher needs replacing. 

There are a variety of warning signs to look out for that could indicate your fire extinguisher needs to be disposed of. These include: 

  • The neck seal is broken, weak or damaged
  • The handle is broken, weak or shaky 
  • The extinguisher’s pin is missing or has been released 
  • The hose is split, cracking or damaged in any way 
  • Damage, blockages or cracks around the nozzle 
  • If the inspection tag is missing it may still be fine to use, but it should be checked by a professional who may recommend it be replaced 

How to dispose of used fire extinguishers 

If you do need to dispose of a fire extinguisher, you cannot simply put it in a bin with your general waste. The pressurised nature of fire extinguishers, as well as the chemicals inside them, means that they represent a hazard and need to be disposed of in a unique manner.  

The first thing you need to do is check whether your fire extinguisher is empty. If not, there are two options you have. First of all, get in touch with your local fire station and see if they’ll take it off your hands. If not, your nearest hazardous waste facility should be able to dispose of it for you.

The process is simpler if you’re disposing of an empty canister. Test the extinguisher to ensure it’s fully empty, open the top so it can be visually checked and take it to a nearby recycling facility. Most fire extinguishers are made from steel and therefore easily recyclable. 

If you’re based in Harrow, Ealing, Watford or the surrounding areas and are on the lookout for the supply, installation or maintenance of fire extinguishers, Millennium Fire is here to help. All of our products are manufactured to the highest possible standard and will help you comply with all relevant legislation and regulations. To find out more about the fire safety products and services we provide at Millennium Fire, get in touch today.