Why do I need to service fire extinguishers
Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 employers are required to ensure their premises are "equipped with appropriate fire-fighting equipment". In order for the fire extinguishers to be appropriate not only must they be of the correct fire class for the hazards present but also be in a servicable condition. BS5306 - Fire Extinguishing Installations states that most fire extinguishers should be serviced annually, this is to ensure they will operate as intended should they need to be put to use.
The British Standard defines two types of service, annual and extended service. The extended service needs to be undertaken every 5 years during the extinguisher's useable life (this can be up 19 years - at 20 years it is recommended that the extinguisher is replaced). The annual service being completed each year between extended services. BS5306 also requires that new extinguishers are commissioned when they are installed. This is essentially an annual service to ensure that the extinguisher will operate if the need arises for it to be discharged. Depending on the type of extinguisher it is not always cost effective to undertake extended servicing, as the labour involved can exceed the cost of a new replacement. Dry powder extinguishers are an example of an an extinguisher for which it is not cost effective to undertake extended servicing.
Note: P50 fire extinguishers do not require servicing during their 10 year lifespan. They can be factory-recharged at the end of this period.