Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs are designed to provide a better understanding of Portable Fire Extinguisher related Questions.

Please Note: This FAQ is designed to be helpful in raising awareness about Smiths Fire and our services and products and other tools. It is not a substitute for legal advice. It may not cover important issues that affect you. You should consult with your local AHJ if you have additional questions

Maintenance and servicing of fire extinguishers should be performed by a licensed and insured fire extinguisher servicing company that has the proper tools, training, recharge materials, lubricants, manufacturer’s servicing instructions, and replacement parts

  • Monthly – Quick check to ensure that the fire extinguisher is in the designated place with no obstruction to access or visibility, and that the pressure gauge indicator is in the operable range.

  • Annually – A thorough examination of the basic elements of the fire extinguisher performed by a trained person who has undergone the necessary instructions and has the manufacturer’s service manual.

Pressure testing of a fire extinguisher to verify its strength against unwanted rupture performed by a facility that is approved by the D.O.T. to requalify cylinders.

  • Dry Chemical 12 years

  • Water, AFF, FFFP 5 years

  • Halogenated Agent 12 years

  • Carbon Dioxide 5 years

An internal examination of an emptied dry chemical fire extinguisher to check for corrosion and any interior problems. Extinguishers that pass the six year maintenance are then recharged, reassembled, and receive a six year service label and a verification of service collar.

  • Class A Wood, Paper, Cloth, Rubber

  • Class B Flammable Liquids

  • Class C Electrical

  • Class D Combustible Metals

  • Class K Combustible Cooking Media

  • Fire extinguishers having a gross weight not exceeding 40 pounds shall be installed so that the top of the fire extinguisher is not more than 5 feet above the floor.

  • Fire extinguishers having a gross weight exceeding 40 pounds shall be installed so that the top of the fire extinguisher is not more than 3 1/2 feet above the floor

  • In no case shall the clearance between the bottom of the fire extinguishers and the floor be less than 4”.

The following are NFPA-10 minimum recommendations per floor:

  • A single fire extinguisher rated 2-A:10-B:C or higher.

  • One single fire extinguisher rated 2-A or higher, and a second fire extinguisher rated 10-B:C or higher.

  • The following types of fire extinguishers are considered obsolete and shall be removed from service:

    • Soda acid

    • Chemical foam (excluding film-forming agents)

    • Vaporizing liquid (e.g., carbon tetrachloride)

    • Cartridge-operated water

    • Cartridge-operated loaded stream

    • Copper or brass shell (excluding pump tanks) joined by soft solder or rivets

    • Carbon dioxide extinguishers with metal horns

    • Solid charge type AFFF extinguishers (paper cartridge)

    • Pressurized water extinguishers manufactured prior to 1971

    • Any extinguisher that needs to be inverted to operate

    • Any stored pressure extinguisher manufactured prior to 1984

    • Any extinguisher with 4B, 6B, 8B, 12B, and 16B fire ratings

    • Stored pressure water extinguishers with fiberglass shells (pre-1976)

  • Dry chemical stored pressure extinguishers manufactured prior to October 1984 shall be removed from service at the next 6-year maintenance interval or the next hydrostatic test interval, whichever comes first.

  • Any fire extinguisher that can no longer be serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s maintenance manual is considered obsolete and shall be removed from service.

Pull the Pin at the top of the extinguisher. The pin releases a locking mechanism and will allow you to discharge the extinguisher.

Aim at the base of the fire, not the flames. This is important – in order to put out the fire, you must extinguish the fuel.

Squeeze the lever slowly. This will release the extinguishing agent in the extinguisher. If the handle is released, the discharge will stop.

Sweep from side to side. Using a sweeping motion, move the fire extinguisher back and forth until the fire is completely out. Operate the extinguisher from a safe distance, several feet away, and then move towards the fire once it starts to diminish. Be sure to read the instructions on your fire extinguisher – different fire extinguishers recommend operating them from different distances. Remember: Aim at the base of the fire, not at the flames!!!!

If one or more of the following is present, the extinguisher will need to be recharged immediately.

A) Pressure guage shows recharge or overcharge

B) Evidence of discharge (powder) from extinguisher

C) Any visual defects or damage to extinguisher

The extinguisher cannot be reused. It must be recharged or repaired immediately.

First, note that the monthly interval may be adjusted, “… extinguishers shall be manually inspected at a minimum of 30-day intervals or electronically monitored. Fire extinguishers shall be inspected at more frequent intervals when circumstances require.” [NFPA 10]

The particular inspection information is often the following: [NFPA 10]

(1) Location in designated place

(2) No obstruction to access or visibility

(3) Pressure gauge reading or indicator in the operable range or position.

(4) Fullness determined by weighing or hefting for self-expelling type extinguishers, cartridge operated extinguishers and pump tanks.

(5) For wheeled extinguishers, the condition of tires, wheels, carriage, hose and nozzle shall also be checked.

(6) For non-rechargeable extinguishers using push-to-test pressure indicators, test the indicator.

  • Class A Wood, Paper, Cloth, Rubber

  • Class B Flammable Liquids

  • Class C Electrical

  • Class D Combustible Metals

  • Class K Combustible Cooking Media