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Library: Standards: BS 5306-3:2009



   British Standards :
   BS 5266
      BS 5266-1
      BS 5266-7
      BS 5266-8
   BS 5306
      BS 5306-1
      BS 5306-3
      BS 5306-8
         BS 5306-8 B
         BS 5306-8 C, D
         BS 5306-8 F
   BS 5499
   BS 7671
   BS 5839
     BS 5839-1
     BS 5839-6
   BS 7937
   BS EN 2:1992
   BS EN 3
   BS EN 54
   BS EN 671
     BS EN 671-3
   BS EN 1869
   BS EN ISO 9001
   BSI’s PAS 79

BAFE Schemes :
   SP101 & ST104
   SP203-1

Other Items :
   CE Marking


Introduction

Below is a summary of good practice and the key points of the parts of BS 5306-3:2009 relating to the commissioning and maintenance of portable fire extinguishers. Readers are referred to the British Standard itself for full details and reminded that this is a summary only.

This standard, published July 2009, fully replaces BS 5306-3:2003, which is withdrawn.

This document is broken down into the following sections:

Throughout, references to the pertinent parts of the British Standards and/or other legislation have been included as footnotes.

Definition of “Responsible Person”

The Standard defines1 the responsible person as being “the person or persons responsible for, or having effective control over, fire safety provisions adopted in or appropriate to the premises or building or risk where an extinguisher is installed” noting that “[f]or the purposes of this part of BS 5306, the term “responsible person” includes a nominated representative, and is the person defined by this term in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005”.

Please see the corresponding notes on ‘Responsible Person’ on our Fire Safety Order and Fire (Scotland) Act pages.

Most commonly, the responsible person will be the employer, landlord, etc.

Please note that that the term ‘person’ is a legal term in this context and, in addition to referring to an individual, it may equally refer to an incorporated company, a partnership, etc.

Definition of “Competent Person”

The Standard comprehensively defines2 the necessary elements of competency to undertake the maintenance of fire extinguishers. The definition refers to qualifications (obtained from a BAFE recognised independent examination body), induction training, ongoing training (leading again to the passing of an examination), experience, tools, etc.

Under the standard, and under current legislation, it is the duty of the responsible person to ensure the competency of those undertaking maintenance.

Commissioning Service

The 2009 revision of the standard introduces3 the necessary practice of commission of new fire extinguishers. New extinguishers are now required to be properly comprehensively commissioned by a Competent Person (as defined - see above).

Maintenance Overview

Other than those extinguishers for which the standard provides no maintenance schedule4, 5 which should be condemned4, portable fire extinguishers should be maintained as set out in this standard.

The maintenance cycle for extinguishers should consist of the following key stages:

Extinguisher Type Weekly At Least Monthly At Least Annually9 Additional Requirements
Age 5yr Age 10yr Age 15yr Age 20yr
Water & Foam (& Water-Based) Weekly Check 6 Visual Inspection 7 Basic Service 8 Extended Service 8 Extended Service 8 Extended Service 8 Advise Replacement9
Powder (non primary-sealed only) Weekly Check 6 Visual Inspection 7 Basic Service 8 Extended Service 8 Extended Service 8 Extended Service 8 Advise Replacement9
CO2 Weekly Check 6 Visual Inspection 7 Basic Service 8 - Overhaul 8, 11 - Advise Replacement10
Class D Extinguishers12 Weekly Check 6 Visual Inspection 7 Basic Service 8 Extended Service 8 Extended Service 8 Extended Service 8 Advise Replacement10
Class F Extinguishers13 Weekly Check 6 Visual Inspection 7 Basic Service 8 Extended Service 8 Extended Service 8 Extended Service 8 Advise Replacement10
Halon Now an offence to possess Halon extinguishers14
Excluded Types4, 5 Must now be condemned5
 

The Responsible Person’s Weekly Check

The standard notes that the responsible person (or their nominated representative) should undertake a brief check of the extinguishers at least weekly6. This should check whether the extinguisher has been operated or damaged.

The Responsible Person’s Visual Inspection

In addition to the above brief weekly checks, The responsible person (or their nominated representative), should also undertake a more rigorous visual inspection at least weekly7 (or some higher frequency if determined by risk assessment7), and should check7 that each extinguisher:

  • is located correctly;
  • is unobstructed and visible;
  • has its clean and legible operating instructions facing outward;
  • has not been operated, is not obviously damaged, and is not missing parts;
  • has a pressure gauge (where fitted) that reads in the operable and safe range; and
  • has seals and tamper indicators that are not broken or missing.

The responsible person should arrange any corrective action required7. Where there is any doubt, the responsible person should arrange for the extinguisher to be examined by a Competent Person7.

Basic Service by Competent Person

The basic service by the Competent Person, should be conducted at least annually8 (± 1 month9) (or some higher frequency if determined by risk assessment15).

The specifics of the basic service are too complex to list here (and the reader is referred to the British Standard for full details), but will include, depending on extinguisher type, the following:

  • External examination for signs of corrosion, dents, splits, gauges or other damage.
  • Examination and checking of pressure indicating devices.
  • Measurement of pressure, weight, etc. to ensure that there is the correct amount of both medium and propellant gas.
  • Checking of all applicable parts to ensure good working order (this will include removal of the safety pin, BS 5306-3:2009 compliant pull-tag and other anti-tamper indicators, which, in many cases, will need replacing16).
  • Mandatory replacement of washers, ‘O’ rings, seals and diaphragms for horns, nozzles, hoses and valves whenever these components are removed17.

In addition to the basic service of the equipment as above, the Competent Person is also required18 to make any recommendations to ensure adequate and appropriate cover in compliance with BS 5306-8.

Extended Service & Overhaul

Except for CO2 extinguishers and a few certain other exceptions, the extended service is normally carried out after the first five years, and then at five yearly intervals thereafter (as shown on the table above)8. This should be arranged at the time of the basic service.

In the case of CO2 extinguishers, the overhaul is carried out after the first 10 years8.

In addition to the procedure followed for the basic service, the extended service includes more rigorous checks including discharge tests or, in the case of CO2 extinguishers, hydraulic pressure tests. The schedule for this work is as per the table above.

Recharging of Extinguishers

BS 5306-3:2009 details19 requirements for the process by which extinguishers should be recharged following their complete or partial discharge.

Replacement of Components

BS 5306-3:2009 sets down20 the requirements for replacement components and extinguishing media. Specifically, it stipulates that only those supplied or specified by the manufacturer of the extinguisher, or equivalents, should be used.

Evaluation of Fitness for Service

BS 5306-3:2009 requires21 that extinguishers that are found to be defective are to be categorised and marked as “Condemned” or “Not maintained”. In both cases, the extinguisher should be made safe and marked accordingly, along with the reason(s) for that assessment22. The extinguisher should also be removed from its designated place, and made safe22.

Evaluation of Fitness for Service - Condemned Extinguishers

BS 5306-3:2009 requires23 that extinguishers with a “major defect or defects which make it unsafe for use, and which cannot be rectified during maintenance”, should immediately be made safe, removed from its
designated place, and marked “condemned” together with the reason for this assessment.

It goes on to give examples of indicative conditions24:

  • corrosion, wear or damage to threads of any pressure retaining part;
  • corrosion of welds;
  • extensive general corrosion or severe pitting;
  • dents or gouges in the body;
  • fire damage to the body or body fittings;
  • any split in a plastics lining;
  • lifting or detachment of a plastics lining from the body;
  • corrosion of the metal body under a plastics lining;
  • corrosion of the metal body under a zinc or tin/lead lining.

Further reasons include the following (unless rectified by fitting of appropriate components)24:

  • overpainting or application of any other coating, film or colouring to any plastics component that could be subject to pressure;
  • UV degradation of plastics components;
  • illegible marking or operating instructions;
  • instructions not in English.

Additionally, all extinguishers for which the standard provides no maintenance schedule4, 5 should also be condemned4.

Full Copies of Standards

The British Standards are covered by copyright and are not available freely. However, these can be purchased at British Standard Online or alternatively, some libraries may carry copies of the more common standards.

Footnotes and References
  1. As per BS 5306-3:2009, clause 3.15.
  2. As per BS 5306-3:2009, clause 3.6 and Annex A.
  3. As per BS 5306-3:2009, clause 4 and Annex B.
  4. As per BS 5306-3:2009, clause 9.2.3.
  5. These include: Soda-Acid Portable Fire Extinguishers; Portable Fire Extinguishers with riveted body shell; Portable Fire Extinguishers with plastic body shell; Portable Fire Extinguishers that require inversion to operate; Non-refillable Portable Fire Extinguishers that have reached their expiry date; and Extinguishers manufactured after 2002 which do not carry a CE mark (excluding refurbished extinguishers).
  6. As per BS 5306-3:2009, clause 5, note 1.
  7. As per BS 5306-3:2009, clause 5.
  8. As per BS 5306-3:2009, clause 6.1, Table 1. The ages shown here are typical. Refer to the table, and specifically note (c) for detailed requirements.
  9. Tolerance of ± 1 month, from the minimum annual requirement as per BS 5306-3:2009, clause 6.1, Table 1, note B.
  10. Extinguishers should be replaced at 20 years because BS 5306-3:2009 clause 6.1, Table 1 would otherwise necessitate discharge-testing or refurbishing the extinguisher which is already coming to the end of its life, and is therefore economically unviable (the cost of discharge testing or refurbishing is usually a large proportion of the cost of replacement).
  11. The requirement for stretch testing CO2 extinguishers after 10 years is actually a legal requirement under the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000.
  12. Class D extinguishers are powder extinguishers and treated thus in the British Standard. These details assume that the extinguisher in question is not a primary-sealed extinguisher.
  13. Class F extinguishers are water-based extinguishers and treated thus in the British Standard.
  14. The Montreal Protocol, its amendments in the 1990s, EC Regulation No 2037/2000 [1], The Environmental Protection (Controls on Ozone-Depleting Substances) Regulations 2002 [6] and The Environmental Protection (Controls on Ozone-Depleting Substances) (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2003 have led to all Halon extinguishers being illegal to possess after 31st December 2003 except for the “critical uses” (as listed by Annex VII of EC Regulation No 2037/2000 [1]). These “critical uses” are very much the exception and, in those cases, this document does not detail the maintenance schedule required.
  15. As per BS 5306-3:2009, clause 6.1, Table 1, note D.
  16. As per BS 5306-3:2009, Annex D (normative), table D.2, actions numbers 11 and 17.
  17. As per BS 5306-3:2009, Annex D (normative), table D.2, action number 13.
  18. As per BS 5306-3:2009, clause 9.4.1.1 (c).
  19. As per BS 5306-3:2009, clause 7.
  20. As per BS 5306-3:2009, clause 8.
  21. As per BS 5306-3:2009, clause 9.1.
  22. As per BS 5306-3:2009, clauses 9.2.1 and 9.3.
  23. As per BS 5306-3:2009, clause 9.2.1.
  24. As per BS 5306-3:2009, clause 9.2.2.
 



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