A brief overview of proper fire extinguisher maintenance

Bulbeck Fire on 13 October 2016

Ensuring extinguishers can be operated effectively is an essential part of keeping building occupants safe from fire. That's why a range of Australian Standards govern the proper placement, installation, maintenance, operation and repair of fire extinguishers - including AS 3676, AS 4353, AS 2444, AS 1851 and AS 1850.

So we've produced a "checklist style" overview, to cover the most important Australian Standard Maintenance of Fire Extinguishers. The full guidelines for proper fire extinguisher maintenance can be found here. But for a more general overview, read our brief checklist:

Legal/industrial requirements

As per AS 1851, fire extinguishers must be tested by qualified persons at half-yearly intervals. Before each inspection, check all relevant documentation to ensure your knowledge is up-to-date, including:

  • Industry, customer and organisational requirements for fire extinguisher maintenance.
  • Occupational health and safety (OHS) policies and procedures.
  • State/territory building codes and work procedures:

New South Wales
Victoria
Queensland
South Australia
Western Australia
Tasmania
Northern Territory
Australian Capital Territory

Organisational requirements

Ensure these are met but that they do not conflict with building codes:

  • Have you liaised with the property/building manager?
  • Have you spoken to relevant parties - eg office manager?

Inspection

Prior to inspection:

  • Arrange a suitable time to inspect the extinguishers.
  • Get permits and permissions to inspect the extinguishers (if necessary).
  • Ensure you have an up-to-date plan of where extinguishers are located in the building.
  • Undertake inspection and fire extinguisher maintenance according to current Australian Standard, industry legislation and customer requirements.

Location

Check:

  • Extinguishers are located in conspicuous and readily-accessible positions.
  • Extinguishers are not located where access could present a hazard to the user.
  • Where possible, extinguishers are located along normal paths of travel and near exits.
  • Appropriate signage clearly indicates extinguisher locations.
  • Extinguishers are mounted at the appropriate height (at least 100mm between floor and base of unit, max 1200mm between floor and top of unit).
  • The extinguisher - or its location sign - is fully visible from 20m in all directions of approach.
  • Areas surrounding fire extinguishers are clear from obstructions.
  • When housed in a cabinet or cupboard, ensure no other items are stored inside and that the front of the extinguisher faces outward.
  • Each extinguisher has an appropriate support fitting or bracket.

Operation

Ensure building occupants can operate the system by:

  • Locating the fire extinguisher via proper signage.
  • Following the displayed operating instructions.

After the inspection:

  • Attach label to side plate showing date of service
  • If extinguisher is faulty, add description of fault to the attached label

Repair

  • Replace and repair any faulty or defective components. Ensure these repairs will bring the extinguisher up to all relevant standards.
  • Log and report repairs undertaken to all relevant persons, including building manager and/or office manager.
  • Remove any equipment and clean up any mess. Leave the place as you found it.
  • Distribute completed paperwork to all relevant persons.

Replacement

  • Install the replacement extinguisher. Ensure you follow the manufacturers' instructions.
  • Ensure installation adheres to all state, industry and workplace requirements.
  • Commission extinguisher in accordance with relevant legislation and requirements.
  • Remove any equipment and clean up any mess. Leave the place as you found it.
  • Distribute completed paperwork to all relevant persons.

Logging inspection

Once complete, log the details of inspection, including:

  • The inspection date
  • Any defects found