Fire extinguishers: Commissioning fire extinguishers

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“Why do fire extinguishers need commissioning if they are new?”
“Why does commissioning have to be done on site?”

If you are not familiar with the industry, the answer to these questions can seem complicated. Always look out for the Kitemark and the CE mark when purchasing fire extinguishers to ensure they fulfil the criteria of BS EN3. If the extinguisher is to be used in a business or public building, it must be commissioned on-site upon delivery. You will need a BAFE-certified fire extinguisher engineer to complete this, as they will have the knowledge and training that allows them to competently service portable fire extinguishers in accordance with the requirements of BS 5306 Part 3.

During the fire extinguisher commissioning process, many tests will be performed to confirm that it has not been damaged during travel and that it will work when needed. Please keep in mind that this must be done before mounting or placing the fire extinguisher in its appropriate location.

Fire extinguishers do not come pre-commissioned since they may have become broken, discharged, or lost pressure during shipment. As a result, British Standard 5306-3 requires that extinguishers be commissioned on-site by a qualified individual.

The new extinguisher will be removed from the shipping box and assembled, with all ‘o rings’ and critical pressure points properly tightened. If necessary, the pressure within the extinguisher will be tested and weighed, and a service label and certificate will be provided for insurance purposes.

British Standards are suggestions rather than legal requirements; nevertheless, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 specifies that any equipment, such as fire extinguishers, ‘should be subject to a suitable system of maintenance and be maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.’

Commissioning a fire extinguisher

Before using the fire extinguisher, it is important to:

  • Fit the discharge nozzle if it is not already attached.
  • Check to see if the tamper device is still in place.
  • Ensure that the pressure gauge is in the green.
  • Examine the extinguisher for rust or visible damage.
  • Weigh the extinguisher and write the weight on the maintenance label.

Only when a fire extinguisher has been correctly commissioned in line with the BS5306 standard can you use the certification document as proof that you have fulfilled your obligation in accordance with your fire risk assessment.