Why Does Even the Smallest Fire Exintinguisher Discharge Necessitate a Recharge?

You should already understand how important it is to have properly serviced fire extinguishers in your office, but many people downplay the importance of having a fire extinguisher recharged after it has been used, especially if only a very small amount of extinguishing agent was released at the time. In fact, even the most insignificant of discharges can have a significant effect on the extinguisher itself, and will probably leave it completely inoperable.

How do fire extinguishers work?

It helps to consider how fire extinguishers work before diving into the importance of recharging them after each use. Connecting tank to handle is the valve and the valve stem. When you push down on the handle, the valve is pushed down and the extinguishing agent rushes out to combat the blaze.

Before the happens, the valve and valve stem should be clean. After it happens, a powdery residue will be left by the extinguishing agent, and that powdery residue will make it impossible for pressure to be retained inside the extinguisher.

How Does this Impact Performance?

You might release only the smallest blast from a fire extinguisher. You might then look at the pressure gauge and note that pressure still seems fine. The problem is that even the smallest amount of residue from a minimal discharge will usually result in a leakage. Very quickly indeed, the compromised pressure seal is going to allow the remaining expellant gas to leak away; even if there's plenty of extinguishing agent still left, there won't be able pressure to discharge it.

Even if the pressure gauge is fine right after use, it probably won't be in a day or two, and you might not bother to check it by then. But if you need to use the extinguisher during a future emergency, it's probably not going to work.

Make Sure Recharges Always Happen

Beyond the fact that pressure is lost from the extinguisher, you always want to make sure that enough extinguishing agent as possible is kept inside. Additionally, you'll probably find that failing to recharge violates fire codes, which could seriously come back to haunt you in the event of a fire.

Maybe you let off a small blast to demonstrate the extinguisher to new staff. Maybe someone simply discharged it by accident, or perhaps you had to fight a very small fire. Regardless, you always need to make sure that it is recharged as soon as possible.