One of the frequently asked questions when it comes to fire extinguishers is, how long do dry powder fire extinguishers last?

Most of us have probably never even owned a fire extinguisher, let alone used one.

Fire extinguishers play a very important role in the event of fire. Their role is to extinguish a small fire before it takes hold and causes major damage.

Imagine if you reach for your fire extinguisher to put out a fire and it fails to activate. This can result in tragedy. Like any equipment, fire extinguishers can deteriorate or be damaged which can reduce their lifespan. They need to be regularly maintained in proper working order.

What are the different classes of fires?

When a house is on fire, it’s not only the timber walls and beams that are burning. Everything within the house can catch fire. This includes electrical equipment, gas heating systems, and more. Wherever there’s a fire, whether it’s an office, factory, car or anywhere else, there’s danger.

As a result, fires have been categorised into classes:

  • Class A: Flammable solids such as wood, paper, plastic, textiles
  • Class B: Flammable liquids such as petrol, oil, paint
  • Class C: Flammable gases such as LPG, CNG, butane
  • Class D: Flammable metals such as magnesium and titanium
  • Class E: Live electrical equipment such as computers, switchboards, TVs, cables
  • Class F: Cooking oils and fats such as chip pans, fryers

No single fire extinguisher is suitable for all kinds of fires.

What are the different types of fire extinguishers?

Most things are flammable. There’s not just the one kind of fire. Because of this, there are different types of fire extinguishers designed for specific classes of fires.

The most common portable fire extinguishers are:

  • Water
  • Foam
  • Wet chemical
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Dry powder

Each of these extinguishers are designed for specific purposes. For instance, the foam fire extinguisher is designed for use on class A and B fires.

What is a dry powder fire extinguisher?

A dry powder fire extinguisher (also known as a dry chemical powder fire extinguisher) contains a powder which is an extinguishing agent. When activated, the powder spreads easily and melts over flames.

It’s important to note, they’re designed for specific kinds of fires according to their ratings. Dry chemical powder fire extinguishers are rated as either ABE or BE.

ABE rating means they’re specifically for:

  • Wood
  • Paper
  • Textiles
  • Rubbish
  • Flammable and combustible liquids
  • Flammable gases
  • Live electrical equipment

BE rating means they’re specifically for:

  • Flammable and combustible liquids
  • Flammable gases
  • Live electrical equipment
  • Limited effectiveness on cooking oils and fats
  • Considered effective on ordinary combustibles

It’s important with any fire extinguishers to use the correct one according to the class of fire.

The benefits of dry powder fire extinguishers

One of the key benefits is their versatility. The dry powder contents are very effective in putting out many different fire classes. This makes them very handy for locations where there are also flammable gases and liquids.

They have other benefits as well. They’re powerful and work quickly to put out small fires. They’re compact, less expensive than some other types of fire extinguishers, and safer because of their usefulness in dealing with electrical fires.

Like any piece of equipment, they can fail for a number of reasons.

Can dry powder fire extinguishers expire?

Even though they don’t technically expire, or have a set expiration date, over time your fire extinguisher can become ineffective and fail for many different reasons. So in a way, you could say they expire if they’re not maintained properly.

When asking how long do dry powder fire extinguishers last, there are some things that can cause them to fail, including;

  • The powder has become compacted
  • Damaged or broken pin (which prevents handle being activated unintentionally)
  • Damaged critical components
  • Content leakage
  • Clogged hose
  • Pressure loss
  • The build-up of extinguishing agent inside hoses, gaskets, springs, and O-rings
  • Becoming obsolete

Under normal conditions, a dry chemical powder fire extinguisher should last between 12 and 15 years. To ensure long life, and avoid failure when activated, the extinguisher needs to be tested and maintained regularly. This includes being recharged after every use, which many people are unaware of.

Jim’s Fire Safety are experienced professionals

If you don’t know if your business is ‘fire ready’, call Jim’s Fire Safety immediately.

Jim’s Fire Safety are a team of expert technicians, highly experienced and renowned for excellent fire safety services like fire extinguisher inspection right across New Zealand.

Each and every technician is highly trained and up to date with the latest fire safety regulations. With Jim’s Fire Safety, you have peace of mind knowing your workplace is protected, and your fire extinguishers are ready in the event of fire.

Call the friendly team at Jim’s Fire Safety today, or fill in the online form for a free quote.