EXTENDED SERVICE - REFILLS AND RE-PRESSURISATION
The newly published British Standard BS 5306-9 incorporates two older standards, outlining all the requirements for the refilling, recharging and repressurisation of portable fire extinguishers.
BS 5306-3 was a key standard for architects, building owners and fire extinguisher service engineers. It ensures that fire extinguishers are correctly maintained and refilled, as well as ensuring there is adequate fire protection, throughout the building.
If your fire fighting equipment has been set off, whether in an emergency or by accident, we can refill, repressurise and relocate the extinguishers from whence it came and have it returned to service very quickly, thus ensuring your safety and well-being.
It is imperative that your equipment is replenished when it has been triggered; it may be the only means of escape and could potentially save lives.
5 YEAR EXTENDED SERVICE
Once a Fire Extinguisher has been in service for five years or more, it requires an 'Extended Service'; This will entail a discharge test of the Fire Extinguishing Medium to ensure that it would work in the event of a 'real fire' emergency. Once this has been proved to work correctly, we must then inspect the inside of the extinguisher to safeguard against any contamination of the body, the head, or any other part of the fire extinguisher. Following this, the extinguisher can then be refilled and re-pressurised and then go back into service for a further five years.
We can refurbish, refill, overhaul and recondition all types and sizes of fire fighting equipment to the current British standards BS 5306 : 3
10 YEAR OVERHAUL SERVICE
An overhaul only applies to carbon dioxide extinguishers
A carbon dioxide fire extinguishers requires a complete over-haul, after it has been in service for 10 years, from the initial date of installation, (or it's new date).
An over-haul comprises is a legal requirement for Co2 extinguishers, to ensure it is still compliant with British and European Standards.
An overhaul comprises of a discharge of the extinguisher to prove it would work in an emergency so we empty the contents of the extinguisher and then the body of the extinguisher is filled with water and pressurised to 2 x its normal working pressure.
It is then drop tested which entails dropping this pressurised canister down a 40ft tube, as you can imagine some extinguishers at this stage, split and break showing their weaknesses in the structure of the equipment..
Providing the body doesn't deteriorate in any way following the drop test the canister can then be resprayed, and refilled with Co2 gas where it can go back into service once more.
Due to the fact that the respray means it loses it's BS Kite-mark, it can only last in service for an additional 5 years from this overhauled date whereby it must undergo the same testing every 5 years hence.
Due to the expense of an overhaul it is often considered to be more cost effective and practical to purchase a brand new carbon dioxide which will last for 10 years from brand new, (out of the box).
HOW TO REFILL A FIRE EXTINGUISHER
The refilling a fire extinguisher is often the most cost-effective way of maintaining your fire protection equipment, especially when compared to the cost of buying new extinguishers. Many people believe that fire extinguishers are single only usage, but this is not the case, at all! Most types of modern fire extinguishers (those with metal bodies) can be refilled very easily with little inconvenience. Refilling often takes place on-site and typically doesn’t take very long for the extinguisher to be refilled and repressurised ready for service. This is not something that should be attempted by an untrained technician, even if the extinguisher is completely empty it may still contain residual gasses which could easily cause injury or death if not treated correctly.
Water fire extinguishers are easily refilled and repressurised on site using ordinary tap water. Once the extinguisher has been replenished with the correct amount of water, a water-tight seal must then be created by replacing the correct size of O-ring within the head of the extinguisher and a small amount of a hydrophobic sealant. It can then be repressurised by hydrogen gas, using a specifically designed valve, at this point the fire extinguisher will work once more to extinguish wood, paper, textiles, plastics, hay and straw fires.
AFFF Foam extinguishers can also be easily refilled with very little fuss, in a similar way to a water extinguisher, using ordinary tap water with an additive of AFFF solution prior to the pressurisation the correct size O-ring and a small amount of a hydrophobic sealant creates a watertight seal. AFFF has the benefit of being usable on flammable liquid fires in addition to that of a water fire extinguisher.
ABC Dry Powder fire extinguishers are not refillable on-site. The process is very messy and there are a number of additional processes including the filtration of the powder contained within the body of the extinguisher, to ensure that it remains pure, This safeguards its efficient operation in an emergency. Dry Powder must only be for outdoor use but can extinguish many more causes of fire.
Carbon Dioxide extinguishers are trickier still and for this reason we often complete a service exchange for this type of fire extinguisher (this means we bring one to you already tested and passed inspection, refilled and repressuirised etc). C02’s must be refilled by a licensed operator as the process is highly dangerous, any mistakes can be deadly, C02 canisters are pressurised to thirty thousand pounds of pressure, per square inch.
There is also additional testing which must be undertaken with Carbon Dioxide fire extinguishers when they get to the end of their ten-year lifespan. This is called an "Overhaul" or “Hydro-test”.
Hydro-testing requires the discharge of the C02 gas ensuring there are no blockages. After the extinguisher is empty having removed, cleaned, and replaced the head of the extinguisher it is refilled with water (H20) and then pressurised to 2x (twice) its normal working pressure. The over-pressurised canister must then be dropped from a height forty feet onto concrete. Providing the extinguisher survives the fall in-tact, without damage, it can be resprayed and refilled with C02 gas. It is then given a final inspection before going back into service. Co2 extinguishers are for Electrical items and flammable liquids only they are not recommended for fires containing wood, paper, textiles, plastics, straw and hay.
The refilling process can, in theory, happen indefinitely to all fire extinguisher types, until the extinguisher eventually fails at which point it MUST be replaced.
Once an extinguisher has had what is called an “Extended Service” (formerly known as a discharge test) or in the case of Carbon Dioxides an “Overhaul" (hydrotest), the life of the extinguisher is thereby extended for up to five years providing it is maintained, at least annually by a reputable company.
The refilling of a fire extinguisher must NEVER be attempted by anyone who is untrained or inexperienced, as there are safeguards that engineers must put in place before the head-cap assembly can be removed for it to be worked on. All extinguishers are pressurised and without the correct tools and knowledge and protective clothing, removing the head of any extinguisher could cause serious injury or in some cases be deadly.
Our engineers are regularly audited and must complete various training courses to ensure they can demonstrate that they how to complete refills, repressurisations overhauls and extended services according to the current British standard. Midland Fire engineers are also kept abreast of any changes to any operating procedures and also any changes which might happen at a governmental level which affect the fire industry as a whole.
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