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Fire Extinguisher Tags: Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Are fire extinguisher inspections required by OSHA?


Fire extinguisher inspections are mandatory as per OSHA, NFPA, and state codes. The OSHA standard 1910.157 about portable fire extinguishers provided for employees’ use requires that these extinguishers undergo regular inspections, maintenance, and testing. Like the NFPA rules, the OSHA standard also talks about monthly visual inspections, annual maintenance checks, and periodic hydrostatic testing. The intervals at which the hydrostatic testing must be performed are also listed in the standard.

Additionally, OSHA requires employers to provide alternate equivalent protection until the portable fire extinguishers are removed from maintenance and recharging service. 

Q. How frequently should fire extinguishers be inspected?


According to the NFPA, all portable fire extinguishers should be inspected monthly, annually, and every 6 years. In addition to these inspections, certain extinguishers also require a periodic hydrostatic material inspection. The monthly inspection involves visually checking that the fire extinguisher operates effectively and is stored and appropriately mounted.

The annual inspection includes examining the mechanical parts of the device, the fire-suppression agent, and the delivery system. Every 6 years, the stored-pressure fire extinguishers that

require a 12–year hydrostatic test should be emptied and examined as per the manufacturer’s service manual.

The requirements for hydrostatic materials inspection depend on the type of extinguisher. While pressurized water, carbon dioxide, and wet-chemical extinguishers should be inspected every 5 years, the dry-chemical ones must be inspected every 12 years.

OSHA and state codes may govern additional extinguisher inspection standards.

Q. Can you inspect your own fire extinguishers?


Yes, businesses and individuals can perform monthly fire extinguisher inspections on their own. These inspections should focus on ensuring that the extinguisher carries a valid tag, is charged and ready for use, and is readily visible. It is also essential to see that the extinguisher’s tamper seal is intact and holding the pin firmly in place. 

The extinguisher should be full and without any damage to the body or hose. Once the inspection is complete, it is important to indicate that on the annual maintenance tag putting a date and sign on it.

Q. Do fire extinguishers need to be tagged?


Yes, all fire extinguishers are required to be tagged as per the NFPA. The agency mandates that all portable extinguishers undergo four rounds of inspections — monthly, annual, six-year, and periodic hydrostatic material inspection. Each of these inspections must be recorded on appropriate fire extinguisher tags attached to the device. In addition to the tags, NFPA also recommends that businesses or individuals maintain a separate inspection log.

Q. Why is it important to use fire extinguisher inspection tags?


Fire extinguisher tags contain important information such as the serial/model number, expiration date, and the extinguisher’s status. The status tag tells you when the extinguisher was last inspected and by whom, which chemical the extinguisher contains, and whether the extinguisher is charged enough to be used. All of this information is crucial for maintaining the efficacy of a fire extinguisher.

Using fire extinguisher tags is also essential to ensure compliance with the NFPA policies and other applicable state codes. 

Q. How long are fire extinguisher tags good for?


Fire extinguisher Inspection tags that document the professionally carried out annual maintenance inspections of fire extinguishers must be dated. These tags should be retained for 12 months from that date, till the next annual maintenance inspection is carried out and logged.

Q. What information should be recorded on fire extinguisher inspection tags?


Fire extinguisher tags are recordkeeping tools mandated by the NFPA. These tags should contain information about extinguisher testing and maintenance. The information related to monthly inspections should include the month and year of the inspection and the person responsible for the inspection.

The information related to equipment maintenance should cover the month and year when the maintenance was performed and the person and agency who performed it. The NFPA also requires the use of a verification-of-service collar located around the neck of the extinguisher container. The collar is required when an internal examination of the device was conducted. It should have the month and year the work was performed and the name of the agency responsible for the work.

Q. How do you read a fire extinguisher tag?


The inspection tag provides you all the necessary information about your fire extinguisher. This includes device identification details such as the model number, serial number, etc. Many extinguishers are marked with more than one tag to identify the expiration date and health status.

Information such as when the last inspection was conducted and whether the extinguisher is fit for use and the chemical it can be found on the status tag. You may also find the words serviced, new, or recharged at the bottom of this tag. These words convey the active status of your device.

Please note that different states have different requirements regarding fire extinguisher status and inspection tags. It may be a good idea to consult your local fire agency for more accurate and comprehensive information.

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