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Did YOU really do a MANDITORY monthly fire extinguisher inspection as this guy didn’t

Fire extinguishers are generally looked upon as being a safety device, so not many people think about the potential dangers they hold.

A field mechanic was completing his weekly service vehicle inspection. He grabbed the fire extinguisher mounted in his truck and noticed that the powder contents had settled at the bottom of the canister. He tapped the bottom of the fire extinguisher with a rubber mallet to help loosen the chemical contents.

The fire extinguisher erupted (exploded) causing the canister to shoot towards the ground and the chemical contents to release into the workers face. The force of the discharge removed his hard hat and covered him with the powder chemical. A co-worker assisted him to the nearest eyewash station and began flushing his eyes, then was taken to the Fort McMurray Alberta hospital for further eye examination.

The workers injury resulted in a scratch cornea, and he is required to wear a contact lense to help with healing process and to eliminate further irritation and discomfort.

And INITIAL FINDINGS The fire extinguisher was being used within its specification and had been inspected by a qualified 3rd party within the required 12 month period (6 months).

Or the woman, hit in the head by a flying fire extinguisher yesterday morning.

Occupational Health and Safety experts said the valve of the fire extinguisher was damaged when it fell over – or was knocked over – and the sudden discharge of high pressure gas sent the cylinder spinning, then flying.

The cylinder spun around several times on the ground before becoming airborne in the south Taranaki tragedy.

It punctured the lower leg of a 54-year-old man while on the ground then flew through the air, hitting the woman in the head and smashing through a corrugated plastic window high in the wall.

Always think about wind direction when using these items too Some fire extinguishers spray powder. Other spray liquids. Others spray gasses. Some spray CO2 as a rapidly evaporating liquid-to-gas.

What it feels like depends a bunch on how close you are, or saids another way, how forcefully it hits you. We’re not talking rip-your-arm off forces, but a spray of powder, liquid, or gas in the eye could be injurious. etc. Dangers of Inhaling Fire Extinguisher Powder

Inhalation is one of the biggest dangers with fire extinguisher powder. It is very irritating to mucous membranes and may cause difficulties with breathing if inhaled in large enough quantities. Usually, in a small fire situation where you would be using one of the commonly seen extinguishers, there would not be enough dust to be breathed in. However, if it does happen, you should go to the hospital. The dust may coat your lungs on the inside, which can prevent oxygen from reaching the rest of the body.

Not all fire extinguisher powders are the same. They must be non-toxic in order to be safe for home and car use, but keep in mind that the powder may be irritating to skin and eyes. Avoid inhaling and certainly stay away from ingesting quantities of the powder. If you are in doubt as to the dangers, go ahead and call your local poison control or ER.  Most dry chemical fire extinguishers contain a chemical known as ammonium phosphate, It is designed to stick to everything to retard flames. Ammonium phosphate is the salt of ammonium and phosphate. It is a highly unstable compound with the formula (NH)PO. Because of its instability, it is an elusive and of no commercial value (except for scientific research). In addition to (NH)PO, a related double salt (NH)PO.(NH)HPO is also recognized. It too is unstable. The instability of these salts results of their facile decomposition with evolution of ammonia

And although  most fire extinguisher will Probably not freeze in cold weather . None of the most popular consumer fire extinguishers contain a liquid agent that will literally freeze, but if it got cold *enough* the extra viscosity could theoretically gum up the works of a dry chemical extinguisher.  Water based ones would be a problem if they froze. CO2 won’t freeze, and the dry chemical type probably won’t either.

All supervisors onsite should instruct and ensure (as per legislation in both Canada and USA) monthly proper fire extinguisher inspections. When an inspection is performed, a checklist should be used so any areas of concern or areas that needs special attention the next period can be noted. There are three areas of concern for the inspection.

  1. Mechanical parts – does everything pass a visual inspection?
  2. Extinguishing Agent – is the gauge needle in the green zone?
  3. Pressure – is the cylinder safe and effective for use?

Maintenance is another vital factor that needs to be regularly carried out on a fire extinguisher to prevent catastrophic events. A well-scheduled maintenance program will not only facilitate to make a thorough check of the canister but will also help to determine if it is effective to operate in the event of a fire.

During maintenance checks, you should make sure that the pull-pin is properly secured within the handle and tamper seal. Beside this, make sure that the manufacturer’s instructions listed on the tank are legible for perfect operation. It will also be beneficial to ensure that no major alterations have been made to the device as it could affect the performance of the unit.


Supervisors are responsible to facilitate and/or provide proper instruction to their workers on protection requirements and training

Proper selection of equipment

Conversant with proper regulations

  1. Ensure you are fully trained with operation and maintenance of fire extinguishers.
  2. Check Cylinder.
  3. Inspect cartridge puncture cap.
  4. Weigh cartridge.
  5. With cartridge removed, check action of puncture lever.
  6. Check hose and nozzle for obstruction.
  7. Check date of manufacture.
  8. Check level and condition of powder.
  9. Check fill-cap threads and gasket.
  10. Attach visual seal.
  11. Check Pressure Gauge.


Proper clean up after use or an incident is just as important


If you are cleaning up after a halotron fire extinguisher, you are already done. Halotron safely disperses into the air, leaving no mess behind. Though these are indeed easy to clean up, the chemicals they disperse are also safe to environment, which is why these are referred to as “Clean Agent” extinguishers.


If you used a fire extinguisher containing potassium bicarbonate or sodium bicarbonate, you can simply get your vacuum cleaner and vacuum away the mess. If you cannot vacuum for some reason, or do not own a vacuum cleaner, sweeping the residue away with a broom or a dry cloth will work just fine.


If you use a foam extinguisher, you will need to use lots of water to dilute and wash away the foam. Soak up the excess water with towels or paper towels when you are done.

Mono Ammonium Phosphate

If you use a mono ammonium phosphate fire extinguisher, also known as an ABC Dry Chemical extinguisher, you will need to scrub away the residue by hand. It is important to be thorough, as mono ammonium phosphate from tri-class extinguishers like this can damage sensitive equipment if allowed to remain.

Step 3 – Finishing

If there are any lingering patches of hard-to-remove residue or smells, you can use these techniques to get rid of them.

For small spots of chemical residue, mix vinegar with water and apply it to a rag. Scrub the spot you are having trouble with vigorously, and you should be able to get it out. This is an especially good technique for sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate.

Remember to check table 4.4 in the 2006 and table 4.5 in the 2013 the NFPA 10 to ensure that you fire extinguisher has not become obsolete.

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