Answering Some General Questions About Fire Extinguishers

Never underestimate the importance of high-quality fire extinguishers in your home and your office; even a small fire that starts on a stovetop or in a wastebasket can quickly grow and spread, and a fire extinguisher can literally save your life during such an event. An extinguisher can also be used when you notice something smouldering, so that you stop a fire before it even begins!

To ensure you have fire extinguishers that are always in good working order, note a few general questions you might have about extinguishers. Also, be sure to discuss the use of extinguishers with a fire inspector as needed, to ensure you know how to maintain your own extinguishers.

Do you need to recharge a fire extinguisher after every use?

Fire extinguishers work with pressure, and this pressure is reduced every time you use the extinguisher. Even if you only use the extinguisher for a small amount of time, this can reduce the pressure inside the canister so much that the extinguisher might not discharge the next time you need to use it. Check the gauge on the valve or top of the extinguisher to note the remaining pressure after using it, or have the extinguisher recharged after use, just to ensure it's always in good working order.

How long is a fire extinguisher good for?

All fire extinguishers will have a certain expected lifespan, depending on the manufacturer, how often the extinguisher is used, and how well it's maintained. Some extinguishers can go several years before they need an inspection, whereas other models should be inspected and recharged annually. Check the manufacturer's label on the extinguisher and, if you're not sure of when it's last been inspected and recharged, bring it to your local fire department or home improvement store for a quick check and recharge. You can then also determine the extinguisher's age and overall condition, and note if it should be replaced.

What are all the letters on fire extinguishers?

The letters on fire extinguishers note the type of fire for which they're used, and this is important to consider; for example, an extinguisher you keep in the garage should address grease fires, whereas one you keep in the office should extinguish paper fires. There are also extinguishers that address several different types of fires, and these can be kept in the home and office in case of paper fires, electrical fires, and so on. If you're not sure the best type of extinguisher for your space, check with a fire inspector and ask their recommendations.