Safe operation and maintenance of portable firefighting equipment
The category of portable firefighting equipment includes fire blankets and portable extinguishers, which due to their mobility enable their use directly in the place of danger. They are particularly useful in the first phase of a fire, when it is possible to immediately activate the extinguisher and move with it. The blanket is a specialised non-flammable sheet of fabric with a surface area of approximately 2 m2It is used to nip a fire in the bud by cutting off the supply of oxygen to the burning object.
However, they cannot be used for large or developed fires. It is worth remembering that proper maintenance of a fire extinguisher contributes significantly to its effective use when needed. From this article you will learn how to maintain handheld fire extinguishers using safety principles.
Types of fire extinguishers available on the market
Handy firefighting equipment It must be lightweight and easy to use so that anyone in a hazardous situation can use it without difficulty. Due to the composition, i.e. the content of the extinguishing agent, fire extinguishers can be divided into
- powder extinguishers - contain a low toxic extinguishing agent;
- snow extinguishers - these are filled with liquid carbon dioxide;
- Water-foam (dust) - the extinguishing agent is foam made from a concentrate of foaming agent and water;
- Mists - contain demineralised water;
- for a clean agent - there is FE-36 gas inside.
Frequency of maintenance
The regulations in force require that each building must be equipped with hand-held fire-fighting equipment. In accordance with §3.3. of the Regulation of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration of 7 June 2010 on fire protection of buildings, other structures and areas) "technical inspections and maintenance of fire-fighting equipment and fire extinguishers should be carried out at times and in a manner consistent with the instructions established by the manufacturer, but no less frequently than once a year". Maintenance activities can be categorised according to the obligation of frequency.
Basic maintenance must take place once a year, while extended maintenance and refilling (if necessary) should take place every 5 years for powder, water, foam and water-based extinguishers. For originally sealed powder extinguishers which are permanently under pressure, their refurbishment should be done every 15 years. Extended maintenance does not apply to fire extinguishers with Fe-36 gas and snow extinguishers.
Every 10 years any type of fire extinguisher must be overhauled and refilled, obviously this must be done more often if the validity of the agent used is shorter.
How to carry out basic maintenance
Basic maintenance should be carried out once a year, unless the manufacturer's instructions require this to be done more often. Replacement of extinguisher parts does not exempt from the obligation to perform maintenance or change their frequency. When undertaking basic maintenance, the first step is to recognise and identify the extinguisher by the marking on the tank. Inspection requirements include:
- verification of protection against unintentional start-up,
- checking the pressure sensor or connection to verify the internal pressure condition,
- examining whether there are any signs of corrosion, dents, gouges or damage visible to the naked eye,
- weighing according to the supplier's instructions,
- verification of hose and nozzle condition,
- checking the legibility of the instructions for use,
- assessing the condition of the propellant tank.
During extended maintenance, the person or body carrying out the maintenance shall combine basic and extended inspection procedures during which particular attention shall be paid to elements such as
- blood pressure monitor
- extinguishing agent
- head, valves / indicators / hose with nozzle
- threaded connections