If you have a business, you likely know that you need to have a plan for emergencies, such as having fire extinguishers in your building in case of a fire. However, even if you have them present, they may not be fully operational. In order to meet the OSHA requirements for having working fire extinguishers inside your business establishment, check periodically for the following signs that your fire extinguishers need replacing as soon as possible.
Cylinder Shows Physical Damage
One sign you should look for while inspecting your extinguishers is the presence of physical damage to the cylinders. These are usually fairly obvious, as they present as dents and scratches in the metal. You should be able to see most of these types of damage while walking by during your routine work day.
However, if a dent is small, you may not be able to see it clearly. For these types of dents, run your hands around the cylinder to see if you feel any dips or crevices in the metal.
If you find any small or large dents or scratches, the cylinder's seal may have been broken and compromised, making the compressed air and chemicals leak out. Even if a leak is not discernible, you will still need to replace the affected fire extinguisher.
Tag Is Missing
Whenever you inspect your fire extinguishers, always make sure the inspection tag is still attached to the ring that is located on the handle. This inspection ring gives the date it was last inspected by a professional, as well as the person's official signature indicating that it is up to code.
If you find any extinguishers that do not have the tag attached, you will not have the required information to ensure that they would work in case of a fire. Not only would this create a potential hazard or malfunction during an emergency, but a missing tag could also earn you a hefty fine during a building inspection.
Any extinguishers without tags need to either be replaced or inspected by a professional as soon as possible.
Presence of Rust or Corrosion
Even if you find no dents and each fire extinguisher has a tag, you should carefully examine all metal parts for outward signs of rust or corrosion. While making your inspections, check each extinguisher's seals, handles, and spouts for oxidized metal.
If you find any areas of rust on the outside of the extinguisher, there is a chance that the rust has spread deep into the metal. It may have even contaminated the chemicals inside the cylinder or could clog the spout.
If either of these instances occurs, the chemicals may not react correctly or may not expel from the cylinder through the hose correctly. If the rust completely clogs up a spout, the high pressure could cause an explosion, making a dire emergence even worse.
While checking for rust and corrosion, look carefully at all nooks and crevices at the top of the extinguisher. If necessary, use a flashlight to fully illuminate the metal. If you find very small areas of rust, there is a possibility that the extinguisher could be salvaged. However, you will need to have a professional inspect it and make that determination.
During your routine inspections, noticing any of the above signs means that one or more of your fire extinguishers will most likely need to be replaced. If you find something odd that makes you unsure about whether to replace them, contact a business that specializes in fire extinguisher inspections to have them look at your extinguishers and offer suggestions on what steps you need to take. For more information, contact companies like Tri County Fire Protection.