Are Fire Extinguishers One Time Use? Your Guide To Refilling And Reusing

Are Fire Extinguishers One Time Use?

If you’re interested in learning about fire extinguisher safety, you’re in the right place.

Here, we’re going to take a look at whether extinguishers are one use only (hint - some aren’t), and how to reuse and refill them safely.

However, there’s a lot more to it than that, so keep reading to learn what you need to know.

Business And Commercial Property Rules

The fire extinguishers on business and commercial properties need to be refilled annually. This is done to make sure that a property always has a working extinguisher on site.

These products also need to have a sticker or label on them at all times, which will say when it was last refilled and serviced.

Although the majority of brands of fire extinguishers can be used many times after being refilled, it is recommended to replace them every decade.

At this point, the extinguishers will typically begin to show signs of aging, which make them unsafe to keep around and use in the case of a fire.

Are Fire Extinguishers One Time Use Only?

Fire extinguishers are usually not single use products, but it isn’t that simple. You get fire extinguishers that are rechargeable, and others that are not.

Non-rechargeable fire extinguishers cannot be recharged, as the name suggests, and therefore cannot be reused.

Rechargeable ones, on the other hand, can be reused! These products can be used many times, but they need to be refilled after every use.

So, while they can be reused, they can’t be reused back to back without getting refilled.

We often see fire extinguishers being used in movies, but it’s important to not learn from that.

Once one has been used, it should never simply be placed back where you found it without letting anyone know it’s been used.

We will take a look at why this is important a little later on.

While a non-rechargeable fire extinguisher technically can be used after it has been tested, there won’t be enough pressure in it for it to be effective. As such, it becomes a huge safety hazard.

Because of this, these items should never be tested by using them. Instead, they should be taken to a qualified technician at your local fire department.

There, the proper tests can be carried out without compromising the product’s effectiveness.

Reusing A Fire Extinguisher - What You Need To Know

Are Fire Extinguishers One Time Use

There are some important things you need to know about reusing a fire extinguisher.

Remember - not all types of fire extinguishers are able to be reused. As such, you should always check the label and see what information it has.

Will A Fire Extinguisher Work A Second Time?

As we mentioned earlier, a fire extinguisher will technically work a second time, even if it hasn’t been refilled.

However, this should never be done, as it will not be as effective as it should be. Because of this, an extinguisher should never be used a second time without refilling.

These products will not magically refill themselves after use – they need to be taken somewhere to get serviced and refilled.

This isn’t to say that you can only “spray” the extinguisher once, and once you remove your hand, you cannot use it again.

You can use it again in the same event, but the effectiveness will still be reduced. If possible, a fire extinguisher should be used without taking your hand off the mechanism.

That way, pressure will not be wasted, and the produce is likely to be more effective.

Avoid using a fire extinguisher more than once at all costs. Without the pressure behind it, it might not be powerful enough to put out a fire.

The Type Of Fire Extinguisher Matters

We already mentioned that there are rechargeable and non-rechargeable extinguishers out there. This is crucial in knowing if your product can be used more than once.

Rechargeable ones can be used again after they have been refilled. Non-rechargeable ones cannot be refilled and therefore cannot be used again.

If you know that a rechargeable extinguisher has been used, ensure that it gets refilled as soon as possible.

No one knows when it might be needed again, and this is just a safety precaution. If the extinguisher cannot be refilled, it needs to be replaced as soon as possible.

Information about whether the fire extinguisher can be refilled or not should be clearly stated on the sticker or label.

When You Should Replace Your Fire Extinguisher

A fire extinguisher should be replaced every 12 years, maximum. However, if there are signs that the product is not in good condition, it should be replaced much sooner.

Any signs of damage or wear on the pins, handle, or canister itself should result in a replacement being bought.

Having an extinguisher that will not work properly will be of no good if it's needed for a fire.

These structural issues can result in casualties, and it’s crucial to ensure it is always in good working condition.

How Many Times Can You Reuse A Fire Extinguisher?

This will differ from one brand and model to the other. There is no way to know for sure how many times your specific fire extinguisher can be reused without checking.

Check the sticker on your extinguisher to determine your specific device’s regulations.

There will be variations depending on the size, make, and model of the product.

Some might only be able to be reused once, while others will last for years. There should be paperwork for you to check in order to determine this. 

If there isn’t, you should call the manufacturer to get more information. 

Always keep an eye on the expiration date of the product, and replace it as soon as its time runs out.

It’s important to be responsible with these products, as they can be life-saving.

Always notify someone if they have been used, and refill them if it’s your responsibility.

Refilling A Fire Extinguisher - What You Need To Know

Are Fire Extinguishers One Time Use

Refilling a rechargeable fire extinguisher can be more complicated than you think.

You should never try to do this yourself, as things can go very wrong. Specialized equipment is also needed to get the job done. 

Never try to carry out a service on a fire extinguisher, either. Leave that up to the professionals who know how to do the job properly. It isn’t worth the risk.

Not only that, but if you don’t get your extinguisher refilled by a professional, insurance companies are unlikely to pay out for a fire-related claim

This can be seen as purposefully putting your home or business at risk, and you will lose money.

Can You Refill A Fire Extinguisher?

If you have a rechargeable fire extinguisher, you can get it refilled by a professional after it has been used.

Non-rechargeable extinguishers can only be used once and thrown away, since their canisters cannot be filled up again.

To summarize, you should not try to refill or service a fire extinguisher yourself because:

  • Insurance companies might not pay out
  • You can damage the extinguisher
  • You won’t have the correct tools or training
  • You can harm yourself (chemicals, canister pressure, etc.)

How Often Should A Fire Extinguisher Be Refilled?

Every time a fire extinguisher is used, it should be refilled.

However, there may be other instances when an extinguisher should be refilled, even if it hasn’t been used.

If your device has never been used and 10 years have passed, it should be refilled as a precaution.

This is, of course, if there are no signs of damage, wear, or anything else that could compromise it.

Where Should You Refill Your Fire Extinguisher?

You should go to your local fire department to get your fire extinguisher refilled.

The fire department usually offers these kinds of services, and they will be able to inspect the product at the same time.

However, there may be some local fire equipment businesses that are certified to deal with the issue.

Many places that sell fire extinguishers will also offer services and refills to the public.

Bear in mind that this can be an expensive process to undertake. Even filling up your extinguisher can cost a fair bit of money. The price, however, will depend on where you go.

Because of this, it’s always a good idea to get quotes from potential places before making your final decision. Just make sure they’re certified and offer quality services.

Refilling VS Disposing Of Your Fire Extinguisher - Which One Should You Do?

Are Fire Extinguishers One Time Use
  • Used once - if it has been used once, the product should simply be refilled at a certified business or fire department. Unless there is damage to it, a rechargeable extinguisher that’s been used once should not be thrown away.
  • Never been refilled - if the device is 10 years old, in excellent condition, and has never been used, get it refilled. The maximum time you should have a fire extinguisher is 12 years. 
  • Missing or broken parts - it is extremely unlikely that a fire extinguisher with any kind of damage can be repaired. Missing or broken parts will result in the device being disposed of.
  • Gradual pressure loss - this means that there is an issue with the device itself, and it should be discarded. Any kind of malfunction is unacceptable with fire extinguishers. 
  • Inspection tag missing - if there’s no way of checking when the product was last inspected and filled, it should be disposed of. If you cannot ensure its safety, don’t risk it.
  • Tested via use - these products should never be tested by being used. Even if a tiny amount of pressure was lost in a “test”, it will need to be refilled.

When You Should Get Rid Of A Fire Extinguisher

Get rid of a fire extinguisher if it is 12 years old (or older), or if it’s damaged in any way.

If you have a non-rechargeable product, discard it after one use.

In other scenarios where there are no faults, malfunctions, or broken parts, a fire extinguisher can simply be refilled and reused.

Disposing Of Old Fire Extinguishers

You should be able to dispose of your extinguisher by simply heading to your nearest fire station or recycling center.

However, you should always ensure that the product is completely empty before doing this.

Some places might not be able to take old fire extinguishers, so always call ahead to double-check this.

Using A Fire Extinguisher Properly

Simply put, think of the PASS acronym to use a fire extinguisher properly. This stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep.

P = pull the device off the stand it will be sitting on
A = aim the nozzle at the fire
S = squeeze the trigger to allow the product to release
S = form a sweeping movement over the area in flames.

Aim at the bottom of the flames to get them under control. Little good would be done by aiming at the tops of the flames, as they are not the source.

Once the canister is empty, you will then need to get yourself to a safe space.

To become a pro at using a fire extinguisher, you will need a little practice. However, let’s hope that never has to happen.

Final Thoughts

Fire extinguishers are a crucial part of safety today, and we need to ensure they are always in working order.

The difference between a refilled, properly pressured, and functional device can be life and death.

As such, the products that are rechargeable should always be refilled after every single use. Those that are non-rechargeable cannot be refilled, and should be discarded after use.

Refill your extinguishers at your closest fire department or certified fire equipment business. Not doing so can have terrible consequences, both financially and otherwise.