Most renters and homeowners keep a fire extinguisher near the garage, kitchen or anywhere where it is quick and easy to grab in an emergency.
If you recently had to use your fire extinguisher or there is no tag on your fire extinguisher to indicate when you bought it, then you may be wondering whether you can use it again.
We take a look at how often you can use your fire extinguisher, and how to dispose of it safely.
Can You Reuse A Fire Extinguisher?
Whether you can reuse your fire extinguisher again depends on the type of extinguisher you have. There are non-rechargeable and rechargeable fire extinguishers.
The non-rechargeable fire extinguisher cannot be refilled which means that it can be used only once.
If you are trying to use your non-rechargeable fire extinguisher more than one time, it is likely not going to be safe and effective in fighting a fire.
Even if you are trying to test a fire extinguisher which cannot be recharged, it has to be replaced.
This is because the pressure is reduced already with one time use, making it a lot less effective when needed in an emergency.
This is the reason why it’s important not to test a fire extinguisher by using it.
It’s better to ask a fire safety technician to check the fire extinguisher for safety.
In comparison, rechargeable fire extinguishers can be refilled several times.
However, the same rule as with non-refillable fire extinguishers applies: you will need to refill it after every single use.
This can be done by a qualified fire technician at your local fire department according to the fire extinguisher’s service manual.
Commercial properties and businesses need to refill their fire extinguishers at least once a year to ensure the safety of staff and the property.
Commercially used fire extinguishers as well as private use canister fire extinguishers should have a label or sticker that indicates when a fire extinguisher was last serviced and refilled.
Although you can reuse most brands of fire extinguisher several times, it’s best to replace a fire extinguisher after around 10 years.
After this time, the fire extinguisher typically shows its age with broken pins or missing handles.
If your fire extinguisher is damaged, then you will need to replace it immediately.
It’s essential that you do not try to refill the fire extinguisher yourself. In order to recharge a fire extinguisher you will need special equipment and tools.
In addition, a fire extinguisher is a highly pressurized canister which means that it can release high-speed pressure, if not handled correctly.
How Many Times Can You Reuse Your Fire Extinguisher?
Every fire extinguisher can be used at least one time. If you have a non-reusable fire extinguisher, then you can use it only once.
For re-usable fire extinguishers, you can use them several times until you notice any damage or 10 years have passed (when it’s time to replace the fire extinguisher).
The exact number of times that you can reuse your extinguisher can be found on the label of the canister.
If your fire extinguisher does not have a label or any paperwork, then you can also check with your local fire department, who will be able to take a look at your fire extinguisher and give advice.
The length of time that you can use your fire extinguisher also depends on how well maintained it has been over the years.
You will need to make sure that the canister is not dented and that there is no pressure release.
You also need to check that the pin, handle and nozzle are all in their correct position.
If you notice these parts are broken or missing, then it’s best to replace your fire extinguisher.
As part of your annual check, you should also check the expiration date. This is usually indicated on either the label or the body of the canister.
Most fire extinguishers do not go out of date, as they do get either used or replaced before their expiration date.
However, it is best to check to make sure that the fire extinguisher is in good shape in case you need to use it.
Also make sure that you know how to use your fire extinguisher. As mentioned, you should never use a fire extinguisher to test it.
The extinguisher’s manual will give you some information on the exact use. However, you will also be able to find more details about how to use a fire extinguisher properly at your local fire station.
How Do You Dispose Of A Fire Extinguisher?
When it is time to dispose of your fire extinguisher, it’s essential that you do so safely.
Fire extinguishers are pressurized canisters that may explode when not handled correctly.
In addition, the extinguishing fluid inside the canister is a chemical which needs to be disposed of safely, so as not to pollute the environment.
The recycling center is typically the first point of call when dropping off an empty fire extinguisher that cannot be used again.
Before you drop the fire extinguisher at your local recycling center, you need to make sure that it is empty. In order to check this, you can simply use it.
You also need to remove the tags, labels and pin at the top of the canister.
If you are not sure where else you may be able to drop off your empty fire extinguisher, then just check in with your local fire department or fire authority.
They will be able to give advice on what to do with the canister.
Although it’s a very good idea to refill your fire extinguisher, not all fire extinguishers can be reused.
As a rule of thumb, a refill station or your trusty fire safety technician will be able to tell you whether you can recharge your fire extinguisher or if you will need to replace it.
You can also contact your local fire department for more advice on how to use a fire extinguisher.