When a fire extinguisher is purchased from a web site it will probably be delivered by courier in a van and it is therefore not possible to ‘commission’ it before it is sent out as it could be damaged, discharged or have lost pressure en-route.
British Standard 5306-3 recommends that extinguishers be commissioned on-site by a competent person.
British Standards are recommendations, not legal requirements, however the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states that any equipment (such as fire extinguishers)
should be subject to a suitable system of maintenance and be maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.
The procedure for commissioning is as follows:
- Attach the discharge nozzle (if not already attached)
- Check the tamper device is intact;
- Check the pressure gauge is in the green (if fitted);
- Check the extinguisher for corrosion or damage;
- Weigh the extinguisher and record on the maintenance label.
A Note of Warning on ‘Pre-serviced’ fire extinguishers
Occasionally, you may come across the practice of online fire extinguisher retailers offering pre-serviced fire extinguishers. What they offer is the inspection of the extinguisher in their warehouse and the addition of a maintenance label on the extinguisher. Sometimes they even claim that this service is in accordance to BS5306.
However, this practice is NOT in accordance to BS5306 for very good reasons.
Damage to extinguishers like loss of pressure, loss of extinguishing medium, bent handles and hoses which make the extinguisher inoperable do not occur whilst the extinguisher is in the warehouse but all of these issues can occur in transit to the customer after the supplier has already declared the extinguisher ‘fit for operation’.
This puts lives at risk, especially if suppliers do not protect extinguishers adequately for shipment. BSI has therefore changed the standard BS5306 to require an ON SITE commissioning for all extinguishers installed under BS5306. This entails a full check of the extinguishers as they arrive on site and the correct weighing, preparation and certification of the extinguishers. Only then can you use the certification document as proof that you have taken your responsibility in accordance to your fire risk assessment seriously.
Pre-servicing or pre-labelling is therefore not permitted any longer. If you require your extinguishers to be installed in accordance to BS5306 you must have the extinguishers commissioned on site or alternatively you can have them installed and commissioned on site by a servicing company. BS5306 conformity is always required if you are a business or landlord or if you have to carry out a fire risk assessment.