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Guide to Fire Extinguisher Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance

Guide to Fire Extinguisher Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance

Portable fire extinguishers are our first defense against small fires. You likely have one nearby. Ensuring it works when needed is crucial. With proper fire extinguisher inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM), extinguishers can be reliable and long-lasting. This guide covers NFPA 10, Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers, to keep your extinguisher ready.

In 2023, a fire extinguisher training session fatally injured a young student. This tragic incident likely occurred because the trainers did not follow fire extinguisher inspection protocols.

Fire extinguisher inspection

The requirements divide into three sections: inspection, maintenance, and testing. Each section includes procedures, qualifications, frequency, and recordkeeping.

Fire Extinguisher Inspection Procedures

Inspection is the easiest way to ensure your extinguisher is reliable. Follow these steps:

Fire extinguisher inspection
Luggage Weight Scale
  • Ensure it is in its designated place.
  • Verify the extinguisher is visible or has clear signage.
  • Confirm easy access to the extinguisher.
  • Check the pressure gauge is in the operable range.
  • Ensure it is full by lifting or weighing it. To gain more accuracy, use a portable luggage weight scale.
  • For wheeled extinguishers, check tires, wheels, carriage, hose, and nozzle.
  • For non-rechargeable extinguishers, test the push-to-test pressure indicators.

Qualifications for Fire Extinguisher Inspection

Inspections do not require certification. Any knowledgeable person can perform them. However this person will require some training to understand how to do it.

Frequency of Fire Extinguisher Inspection

Inspect extinguishers when installed and monthly thereafter. Inspect more frequently in areas prone to rust, impact, or tampering.

Record-keeping for Fire Extinguisher Inspection

Maintain records of monthly inspections by tagging the extinguisher or using paper/electronic files. Record the month and year of inspection and the inspector’s name. Keep records for at least 12 months.

It is advisable that there also be an inspection of the inspection. Too often I see that inspectors simply sign the tags without event checking the extinguishers. Have a good auditing practice in play. Make certain that the hydrostatic pressure testing takes place according to the dates on the extinguishers.

Maintenance Procedures

Maintenance involves procedures from the manufacturer’s service manual and includes:

  • Mechanical parts of the extinguisher
  • Extinguishing agent
  • Expelling means
  • Physical condition

Complete this with an external examination. Internal examinations may also be required as detailed in the service manual.


Maintenance must be performed by a certified person, who has passed an acceptable test and is familiar with NFPA 10 requirements.


Conduct an external maintenance examination yearly, during hydrostatic tests, or when indicated by an inspection discrepancy. Internal examinations are required every 1-6 years, depending on the extinguisher type. For example, a dry chemical, stored pressure extinguisher requires an internal examination every 6 years.


Attach a tag or label to the extinguisher showing:

  • Month and year of maintenance
  • Person performing the work
  • Agency performing the work

For internal examinations, attach a verification-of-service collar with the same details around the neck of the container.

Hydrostatic Testing Procedures

Fire Extinguisher Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance
Fritz-Emde Brand Example.

Hydrostatic tests start with an internal and external examination. Strip the extinguisher to the shell and hose. Fill it with water at a specific pressure. Then dry, reassemble, and recharge it. If they find leakage, distortion, or coupling movement, the cylinder fails the test and must be condemned.


Hydrostatic testing must be done by trained, certified individuals with the correct equipment and facilities. Be aware that not all testing companies in Thailand are following NFPA-10 so choose carefully. My recommendation is to speak with Kiwi Resource Protection. This is because I know with certainty that they conduct all fire extinguisher servicing to NFPA standards. Their technicians are also trained to this standard.


Hydrostatic testing intervals vary by extinguisher type, either every 5 or 12 years. Refer to NFPA 10 Table 8.3.1 for specifics.


For low-pressure cylinders, attach a label with:

  • Tester’s name
  • Test date
  • Test pressure

For high-pressure cylinders, stamp the tester’s ID and date onto the cylinder’s shoulder, top, head, neck, or foot ring.

This guide provides an overview of extinguisher ITM, but it does not cover all NFPA 10 details. Requirements vary by extinguisher type. Consider electronic monitoring as a replacement for monthly inspections. If you are not certain how to develop fire extinguisher protocols, let us help.