Environmental, Health and Safety Services

Inspecting Portable Fire Extinguishers

What types of inspections must be done of Portable Fire Extinguishers (PFE's)?

PFE's must be visually inspected monthly. If the PFE is located in an area where there are severe hazards, abnormal temperatures, a corrosive atmosphere, or potential for damage, it must be inspected more frequently. PFE's are also subject to periodic testing as described below.

Who is responsible for Portable Fire Extinguisher (PFE) monthly checks and periodic testing?

The monthly review of PFEs located in common areas (hallways, lobbies and office suites) are conducted by Facilities Staff for academic and administrative buildings and Housing and Dining Services staff for residence halls and dining halls.

In areas that have restricted access (laboratories and other limited-access research areas), the monthly review must be performed by designated laboratory personnel. The Principal Investigator, Laboratory Manager, or Supervisor is responsible for assuring that these monthly reviews are performed and documented as required.

Annual maintenance reviews and periodic testing of PFEs are performed using term contracts administered by Facilities and Residential Life / Student Programs. Contact EHSS Fire Safety at 231-9068 for further information.

How do I perform a monthly inspection on a Portable Fire Extinguisher?  

Portable fire extinguishers must be ready for use at all times.  The following conditions should be reviewed for all types of extinguishers:

  • Ensure that the PFEs are mounted on the hanger or bracket and that the hanger or bracket is securely anchored.

  • If located within a fire extinguisher cabinet, make sure the cabinet is NOT locked.

  • Ensure that access to the PFE is not obstructed and that the PFE is not obscured from view.

  • Visually examine the extinguisher to make sure there is no obvious physical damage, leakage or a clogged nozzle.

  • Check the pin and plastic seal on the handle.  The pin should be secured into the handle with a plastic tie, indicating that the Fire Extinguisher has not been previously discharged.

  • For Carbon Dioxide and other extinguishers that do not have a pressure gauge, check for fullness by weighing or by lifting it up to check its 'heft' or fullness.

  • For ABC type extinguishers, check the gauge (see below) to verify that the arrow is in the green area, indicating that it is has the appropriate amount of pressure to discharge the extinguishing agent.

  • For ABC type extinguishers, remove it from the bracket and tip it upside down. The agent inside the extinguisher will settle and pack as hard as a rock over time. Turn the fire extinguisher upside down a few of times to break up the agent inside.

  • Check to make sure that the Fire Extinguisher has been inspected within the last year by the vendor.  If all of the above criteria are acceptable, initial and date the monthly inspection tag.

If there are any discrepancies that you cannot fix, or if the PFE is missing either the annual or monthly inspection tag, contact Facilities Services at 231-4300. If you have general questions related to this inspection process, please contact EHS Fire Safety at 540-231-9068.