Several companies have begun selling service free fire extinguishers and a number of our clients have asked whether there really is such a thing and whether they can dispense with the annual maintenance visit.
At the moment just one company manufactures service free extinguishers but the extinguishers are sold on by a number of other suppliers under their own brand name. Whatever the brand name the model name or number model will always identify a service free extinguisher by the inclusion of the identifier – P50.
Currently these extinguishers are advertised at around £150 each (3-4 times the cost of a standard extinguisher) but are advertised as having a lifetime cost less than standard models because they do not require an at cost annual service and have an extended working life. Normally they come with a 10 year guarantee and a life expectancy of 20 years. At the end of the guarantee period sales literature says that they need to be refurbished by an engineer accredited by the manufacturer to extend their useful life for another 10m years. Always follow the routine in your supplier’s instructions.
While these extinguishers are described as service free they still require annual and routine inspection (and maintenance if shown to be required). Typically suppliers advise-
- A monthly visual check
- For damage and
- To confirm that the two pressure gauges both register in the green sector.
- An annual inspection, details of which should be recorded, to
- Visually check for damage and
- To check the operation of the two pressure gauges using a magnet. The magnet is used to draw one of the pressure gauge indicators to zero – in the red sector. When the magnet is removed the indicator should return to the green sector. If it doesn’t the extinguisher is faulty and will be replaced free of charge.
When P50 extinguishers are purchased the supplier’s British Association of Fire Engineers registered engineers will install the extinguishers free of charge and also train nominated personnel to carry out the monthly checks and yearly inspection.
- The maintenance and inspection regime does not require the knowledge and skills of a fire protection engineer though most supply companies will still offer that option should it be required.
It is said that all major insurance companies have approved P50 fire extinguishers as service free fire extinguishers. The relevant sections in British Standard 5306-3:2009 which sets out requirements for fire-extinguisher servicing states that a competent person needs to maintain all extinguishers and that the competent person should be able to carry out the procedures as defined by the manufacturer. The manufacturer and suppliers clearly states that only a visual inspection is required so in house checks meet the requirement of the British Standard. Nonetheless some suppliers recommend that purchasers of P50 extinguishers should inform their insurance providers that they are using these extinguishers and describe the maintenance regime so that a note can be added to their files.So these extinguishers are not exactly service or maintenance free; they still have to be checked and kept in proper working order. The checks are very simple and basic and provided they are recorded they can be done in-house. They do, however, remove the need to pay for the annual maintenance and service visit by a fire protection engineer. Contact Peninsula online for advice on this issue, or call us on 0844 892 2772 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.