Do Fire Extinguishers expire?


Every building in the UK can benefit from having a fire extinguisher, but it’s important to have the right type of extinguisher and to keep it well maintained. If you’ve got the wrong type of extinguisher, or if it doesn’t work properly when you need it most, you’ll be unable to prevent a fire from spreading.

In this article, we’ll answer the question: how long should a fire extinguisher last? But we’ll also give you more tips about how to check your fire extinguishers and what maintenance is required to keep them in top condition.

Red fire extinguisher on a wall and elevator with open doors

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How long should a fire extinguisher last?

Fire extinguishers can last for anywhere between ten and twenty years if properly maintained. The lifetime of an extinguisher can vary depending on the manufacturer and style, but all extinguishers can have their life extended by proper care and maintenance.

You might not be aware of the date you first got a particular fire extinguisher, which is why they come with a date on them.

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How to find the age of an extinguisher

You can find out the age of your fire extinguishers by checking the actual unit itself for a manufacturing date. This will indicate when the unit was created and gives you some idea of whether you need to have them replaced or maintained in some way.

There are a number of places where you might find the manufacturing date and therefore determine the age of the unit. Look for the dates in these places:

  • Around the neck/upper body of the unit
  • Around the area on the body just before the base
  • Dead centre on the body of the unit

There may also be a date on the silver head of the unit (where the body connects to the handle) in some cases, but this is not the full manufacturing date of the entire extinguisher.

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When should you replace your fire extinguisher?

It’s best to speak to an expert if you’re concerned about the fire extinguishers in your building, but there are signs which mean they will need your immediate attention as opposed to waiting for your next fire risk assessment. These signs include:

  • The extinguishers were made by someone no longer in business
  • The nozzle or hose have become blocked or deteriorated
  • The locking pin is missing or is not sealed
  • The handle is broken or has too much give
  • The maintenance record is not up to date


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Fire extinguisher maintenance requirements

Hopefully you never need to use a fire extinguisher, and many people won’t, but this means units need to have maintenance periodically to keep them in full working condition just in case you do ever need it.

According to the law, you must have extinguishers serviced once a year by a professional (BAFE or equivalent) to ensure the working order of all your units. During an inspection, the following things will be taken into account:

  • The visual state of the unit
  • The date on the unit
  • Pressure and weight
  • Pin condition
  • Hose condition
  • Legible instructions
  • Signs of tampering

Once this is complete, your records can be updated and you will be advised on whether you need any fire extinguishers replacing within your building.

Every commercial building needs two fire extinguishers per floor – as outlined in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – this is unless the space is too small (something Scutum Group can advise upon during a Fire Risk Assessment). With this in mind, it’s important to keep up to date with fire extinguisher maintenance. 

To learn more, or to arrange for your extinguishers to be maintained by our expert technicians, call us today on 020 3124 1632. 

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