Fire safety is paramount in any commercial or residential space, and having functional fire extinguishers is a crucial aspect of a comprehensive fire protection plan. Regular maintenance and servicing, including recharging, are essential to ensure their effectiveness when faced with an emergency.

So what is fire extinguisher recharge entail? Read on to find out what recharging an extinguisher involves, when it should be done and how often they need to be recharged.

Why Recharge Fire Extinguishers?

Fire extinguishers are designed to combat fires by discharging their contents- whether that be water, powder, foam, CO2 or wet chemical.

But over time, factors such as environmental conditions, accidental discharge and prior usage can deplete their contents, rendering them ineffective in an emergency situation. Recharging fire extinguishers helps maintain their readiness and ensures they are fully functional when needed the most.

What is the Process of a Fire Extinguisher Recharge?

Depending on the type of fire extinguisher, the process may vary slightly; however, it generally involves the following:

  1. Inspection: Before recharging, the fire extinguisher is visually inspected to ensure it is in good condition and free from any damage or defects that could affect its performance.
  2. Emptying: If the fire extinguisher still contains any extinguishing agent, it needs to be completely discharged. This is typically done by activating the extinguisher until it is empty or by releasing the pressure through a controlled discharge.
  3. Disassembly: The fire extinguisher is disassembled to access the internal components. This may involve removing the head or valve assembly, as well as any other detachable parts.
  4. Internal Inspection and Maintenance: The internal components of the extinguisher are inspected for damage, corrosion, or any signs of wear. The discharge valve, dip tube, O-rings, and other parts are checked and replaced if necessary.
  5. Refilling: The appropriate extinguishing agent is refilled into the extinguisher. The type of agent depends on the class of fires the extinguisher is designed to handle. For example, a dry chemical extinguisher may be filled with a new supply of dry chemical powder, while a water-based extinguisher may be refilled with water or a water-based solution.
  6. Pressure Testing: When required (every 5 years for a portable extinguisher), the extinguisher cylinder is pressure tested. This involved hydrostatically pressurising the cylinder well past the working pressure. If the cylinder passes this test, it should be fine to safely hold pressure for another 5 years before it needs to be pressure tested again.
  7. Reassembly: After refilling and pressure testing (if required), the extinguisher is reassembled, including attaching the head or valve assembly and securing any other components that were removed.
  8. Inspection and Certification: Once the recharging process is complete, the fire extinguisher undergoes a final inspection to ensure it is in proper working order. This inspection may include checking the pressure gauge, verifying the seals, and conducting a functional test. If the extinguisher passes the inspection, it is typically tagged or labelled with a recharge certification indicating the date of recharge and the service provider’s information.

How Often Should Fire Extinguishers Be Recharged?

In accordance with Australian Standard 1851 Maintenance of Fire Protection Systems & Fire Equipment, all extinguishers have to be inspected every six months and must be recharged after every use (even if partially used). Fire Extinguishers need to be emptied, pressure tested and refilled every five years. However, while this is the Australian Standard, some extinguishers may require more frequent recharging, especially those located in high-risk areas or subjected to harsh conditions.

Who Must Carry Out Fire Extinguisher Recharging?

Recharging fire extinguishers can’t be done by just anyone; it must be carried out by a professional fire protection company.  As a leading fire protection company servicing Sydney for over 40 years, we offer cost-effective and efficient fire extinguisher recharging services that cater to the needs of businesses, industry and residential properties alike.

With our commitment to safety and compliance, we ensure that your fire extinguishers are recharged in accordance with the necessary regulations so you can be confident they will work when you need them most. Contact Betta Fire Protection today to schedule your fire extinguisher recharge.