Lamarco Systems is your one stop shop when it relates to Inspecting, testing, purchasing, installing, cabinet(s) or tagging of your fire extinguishers.
Below are the industry standards for maintaining your portable fire extinguishers.
Portable fire extinguishers are required to be visually inspected when initially placed in service and at
least monthly thereafter [see NFPA 10(98), Sections 4-3.1]. These visual inspections, intended to help
ensure that each extinguisher is in its designated place and will operate if needed, can be performed by
A pressure gauge in the “normal” or “operable” range is not a 100 percent guaranty that the
extinguisher will perform as intended. A broken seal, for example, may be an indication that someone
has used the extinguisher and discharged a portion of the contents too small to affect the pressure
gauge. NFPA 10(98), Sec. 4-3.2, therefore, requires that the monthly inspection verify a number of
• Extinguishers are in their designated places
• There are no obstructions to access or visibility
• Safety seals are not broken or missing
• There is no evidence of physical damage, corrosion, leakage or clogged nozzle
• Pressure gauge readings are in the proper range or position
• Operating instructions are legible and facing outward
• Fullness – confirmed by weighing or lifting
Where circumstances warrant, some fire extinguishers may have to be inspected more frequently.
Examples of such circumstances might include extinguishers that are oftentimes found obstructed
during monthly inspections or extinguishers located in areas where they are subject to tampering, theft
or mechanical injury.
Obviously, any problems found during the monthly inspection must be corrected immediately by calling Lamarco Systems.
Some problems trigger a need for full maintenance or even replacement of the extinguisher. For example:
1. Full maintenance procedures must be performed whenever an inspection of a rechargeable fire
extinguisher reveals any of the following problems [see NFPA 10(98), Sec. 4-3.3.1]:
• Operating instructions are not legible
• Safety seals are broken or missing
• Fullness can’t be confirmed (as determined by weighing or lifting)
• There is evidence of physical damage, corrosion, leakage or a clogged nozzle
• Pressure gauge readings are not in the operable range or position
Maintenance/testing of portable fire extinguishers
2. When any of the conditions noted in Item 1 on the previous page, with the exception of a broken or
missing safety seal, are found during an inspection of a non-rechargeable dry chemical extinguisher,
the extinguisher must be removed from use [see NFPA 10(98), Sec. 4-3.3.2].
• Non-rechargeable extinguishers can be identified by looking for markings similar to the
following: “Discharge and Dispose of After Any Use”, “Discharge and Return to Manufacturer
After Any Use”, or simply “Non-rechargeable”.
“Maintenance” is a thorough examination and repair, as needed, of your facility’s portable fire
extinguishers and is covered in NFPA 10(98), Sec. 4-4. Maintenance is required at least once a year –
more frequently when indicated by a routine monthly inspection, as discussed earlier. Maintenance is
also required whenever extinguishers undergo hydrostatic testing.
Because maintenance is required to include a thorough examination of the mechanical parts,
extinguishing agent and expelling means of each portable fire extinguisher, it must be performed by an
approved extinguisher servicing company. A more detailed look at what annual maintenance entails
can be found in NFPA 10(98), Tables A-4-4.4.2(a) and A-4-4.4.2(b). It should be noted that new
tamper seals are required to be installed whenever maintenance is performed on rechargeable fire
extinguishers [see NFPA 10(98), Sec. 4-4.2.1].
Every 6 years, stored pressure fire extinguishers that require a 12-year hydrostatic test (e.g. dry
chemical extinguishers) must be emptied and proper maintenance procedures performed [see NFPA
10(98), Sec. 4-4.3]. The exception to this rule is non-rechargeable extinguishers, which are required to
be removed from service 12 years from the date of manufacture. Again, this maintenance must be
performed by an approved extinguisher servicing company.
At certain intervals, fire extinguishers are required to be pressure tested using water or some other
Non-compressible fluid to help prevent unwanted failure or rupture of the cylinder [see NFPA 10(98),
Chapter 5]. This is called hydrostatic testing and includes both an internal and external examination of
the cylinder. Because this testing requires special training and equipment, it needs to be performed by
an approved extinguisher servicing company.
Hydrostatic testing intervals for fire extinguishers are outlined in NFPA 10(98), Sec. 5-2 and Table 5-
2. Test intervals for some of the most commonly found extinguishers are as follows:
• Pressurized water, carbon dioxide and wet chemical extinguishers – every 5 years
• Dry chemical extinguishers – every 12 years
As mentioned earlier, the exception to the rule for hydrostatic testing is non-rechargeable stored
pressure extinguishers (e.g. dry chemical extinguishers), which are required to be removed from
service 12 years from the date of manufacture.