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Articles and other information related to fire safety equipment and procedures in Illinois.
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How Do You Know It’s Time to Replace Fire Extinguishers?

old extinguisher

How Do You Know It’s Time to Replace Fire Extinguishers?

Being a property owner in Chicago, it is your responsibility to make sure your tenants and property are safe. That means making sure your fire extinguishers are up to date, tagged and maintained so that they can be used if they are needed.

How do you know if you need to replace any fire extinguishers in your building? One general rule is that if it is 12 years old or older, it may be time to replace it. You can also check the gauge for pressure on your extinguisher to see where it is at if you’re not sure how old the units are. Your property fire safety in Chicago is important as these extinguishers can be the difference between minimal damage and a devastating total loss.

Here are some things to keep in mind to know when it is time to replace your extinguishers in your Chicago buildings.

Rechargeable Fire Extinguishers

For portable, rechargable extinguishers, you can generally count on the rule of thumb that they are good for at least 10 to 12 years. There are a few key factors to look for in your rechargeable fire extinguishers to know if it’s time to replace them. Those factors include items such as:

  • The handle – Is it loose or broken? Then you definitely need to replace it. The handle is essential, and it can cause a failure if not secure.
  • Locking pin – If the locking pin seems to be detached or broken, replacement of the pin is required.
  • Maintenance tag – Each time the unit is inspected it should have an updated tag. If there is no tag, then you may want to consider a replacement. At a minimum, by law, the extinguisher must be serviced and tagged by a licensed fire extinguisher technician.
  • Damage to outer shell – Any damage could cause the product to fail.
  • Nozzle or Hose – Check to see if this is blocked or cracked. If it is, then a replacement of the part is in order.
  • Pressure Loss – If you notice the extinguisher is losing pressure over time, it has an issue somewhere. Maintenance or a replacement will be necessary to ensure it is ready to go when you need it most.

Fire Extinguisher Maintenance Requirements

(Applicable for ABC dry chemical fire extinguishers only.)

The State of Illinois requires that portable fire extinguishers be maintained per the statutes defined in NFPA 10: Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers. NFPA 10 defines the installation requirements, maintenance procedures and more for portable fire extinguishers of all types.

The regulations specify that all multi-purpose ABC extinguishers, which are the most common units found in residential applications, must have maintenance performed on an annual basis by a licensed technician. After performing these steps, the technician will apply a new service tag (Including his or her license information) to the extinguisher to specify that the required maintenance has been performed.

Every 6 years the fire extinguisher must be completely emptied, taken apart, recharged and rebuilt. Key parts within the extinguisher are replaced during this process. A special maintenance sticker is added to the extinguisher shell to record the date and licensing information of the technician performing the mandatory 6-year maintenance.

Lastly, every 12 years the fire extinguisher must have a pressurized hydro test performed to warrant the stability of the extinguisher’s cylinder. In addition to the hydro test, all other steps required for a 6 year maintenance must also be performed. If the extinguisher fails the hydro test, the unit is deemed unsafe and must be stamped “CONDEMNED” and may not be returned to service. If the unit passes the test, a special non-removable label must be affixed to the cylinder by the technician recording the date of the successful test.

Fire Safety

When you’re the owner of a Chicago business, commercial property or the head of an HOA, it is your legal responsibility to ensure that fire extinguishers and other required safety equipment is installed and properly maintained throughout the property. To do so, you can work with a fire safety management company such as Connected Fire Safety Services. They can inspect your building, make sure you’re in compliance, and ensure the safety of your residents should a fire break out. They can also help with fire safety tips, keeping your extinguishers in good working order, and making sure that all fire safety equipment is property licensed.

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