Inspecting your fire extinguishers regularly will help ensure that they work properly if/when you need to use them. This article features an easy-to-follow overview of how to conduct your own extinguisher inspections.

Appropriate care and regular upkeep of portable fire extinguishers can help ensure proper operation and potentially minimize property damage during a fire. Annual inspections completed by a state-licensed contractor is the first step in proper extinguisher maintenance. Additionally, you should verify for yourself that your portable fire extinguishers are fully charged, in operable condition and in their designated places by conducting monthly self-inspections.

Monthly self-inspections should follow the steps below:

1. Location: Are all of the extinguishers properly mounted in their designated locations, clearly visible, and with no obstructions for their use?

fire extinguisher

2. Charge: Check the pressure gauge to verify that they are properly charged. The indicator should be within the green zone.

close-up of pin on fire extinguisher

3. Pull pin/tamper seal: Are the pull pin and tamper seal in place?

close-up of finger pulling pin on fire extinguisher

4. Condition of the canister and hose: Is the canister in good condition with no signs of damage, leaking or corrosion? Are the hose and nozzle in good condition with no signs of obstructions, cracking, or other damage?

man inspecting fire extinguisher

5. Rock: Have all dry-powder extinguishers been gently rocked from top to bottom, to ensure that the powder is not packing?

two fire extinguishers

6. Notate self-inspection: If all five checks are good, sign and date the service tag.

fire extinguisher with service tag

Self-inspections of fire extinguishers are easy and do not take very long. They should be completed monthly for every extinguisher and documented on their service tags. For more information on fire prevention, go to the Nationwide Loss Control Services website, where we also have an easy-to-follow infographic on how to properly use a fire extinguisher.

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