Determining if existing equipment is “up to date”

Both portable fire extinguishers and emergency lighting units are legally required to be serviced by a licensed technician on an annual basis. (You can review the full list of service requirements on our fire extinguishers and emergency lighting pages.) After servicing a unit, the technician is required to place a certification tag on the piece of safety equipment. You can review the certification tags to determine if the equipment at your building is “up to date” or if servicing is required.

Fire Extinguisher Certification Tags

After a technician has performed the servicing of a fire extinguisher, a certification tag must be attached that records the month and year in which the service was performed, the type of service performed, and the licensing information of the technician and company that performed the work. Certification tags are required to be of a specific color, each year, as defined by the Illinois Fire Marshall. Tags representing servicing work performed during 2014 are green, 2015 are light blue and the tags for 2016 are white.

A certification tag is good for one calendar year from the month in which the service was performed. By looking at the certification tags on your building’s existing fire extinguishers, you can quickly determine if the units are “up to date” or if servicing is required.

Samples of a 2015 and 2016 certification tags are below. The technician will use a hole punch to mark the month in which the service was performed and add their required license information. The extinguisher is then “up to date” for the next 12 months.

Illinois 2015 fire extinguisher certification tag Illinois 2016 fire extinguisher tag
Tip! An extinguisher is no longer current if the attached certification tag has a month and year older than one year from today’s date. If a tag is missing, the extinguisher is not current.

Emergency Lighting Labels (Exit signs, Stair Signs, Emergency Lights)

After a technician has performed the annual servicing of an emergency lighting unit, he or she will apply a certification label to the side of the unit. Similar to the certification tags used for fire extinguishers, the technician will “punch” the month, year and type of service performed on the label. The company and technician details will also be listed. The label is good for one year from the service date listed.

Emergency light testing label
Tip! An emergency light is no longer current if the attached certification label has a month and year older than one year from today’s date. If a label is missing, the unit is not current.

Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors should be tested on an annual basis to ensure proper functioning. Replacing the batteries on an annual basis will avoid the annoying "chirping" that occurs when the batteries lose their internal charge.

Just as important, smoke detectors must be replaced after their expiration date. The life of a smoke detector is defined by the manufacturer and averages between 7 to 10 years. (Never to exceed 10 years) Almost all smoke detectors made within the past decade will have the manufacture date listed on the back.

Expired smoke detector
Tip! If a date is not listed on a smoke detector, it is almost certainly older than 10 years and should be replaced.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Similar to smoke detectors, CO detectors should be tested on an annual basis to ensure proper functioning. Replacing the batteries on an annual basis will avoid the annoying "chirping" that occurs when the batteries lose their internal charge.

Carbon monoxide detectors must be replaced after their expiration date. The life of a CO detector is defined by the manufacturer and averages between 5 and 7 years. Almost all carbon monoxide detectors made within the past decade will have its manufacture date listed on the back.

Expired carbon monoxide detector
Tip! If a date is not listed on a CO detector, it is almost certainly expired should be immediately replaced.

Is your Fire Equipment out-of-date?

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