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Library: Standards: BS 5306-3:2017



   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 5306-9
   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 5306-3:2017 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This standard, published October 2017, fully replaces BS 5306-3:2009, which is withdrawn.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 hazard 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 or duty holder in Scotland, and is the person defined by this term in legislative structures within UK legislation”.

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 2017 revision of the standard sets out3 the necessary practice of commissioning of new fire extinguishers. These 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.

Note that in the previous version of this part of the standard, no maintenance schedules were provided for extinguishers with a plastics body shell which were to be condemned. Issues could thus arise for any newer types of extinguishers with non-metal bodies made from plastics, aramid fibres, etc. This new version now also covers newer extinguishers with non-metal bodies which are treated broadly the same.6.

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

Extinguisher Type At Least Monthly At Least Annually9 Additional Requirements
Age 5yr Age 10yr Age 15yr Age 20yr
Water & Foam (& Water-Based) Visual Inspection 7 Basic Service 8 Extended Service 8 Extended Service 8 Extended Service 8 Advise Replacement10
Powder (non primary-sealed only) Visual Inspection 7 Basic Service 8 Extended Service 8 Extended Service 8 Extended Service 8 Advise Replacement10
CO2 Visual Inspection 7 Basic Service 8 - Overhaul 8, 11 - Advise Replacement10
Class D Extinguishers12 Visual Inspection 7 Basic Service 8 Extended Service 8 Extended Service 8 Extended Service 8 Advise Replacement10
Class F Extinguishers13 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 Visual Inspection

The responsible person (or their nominated representative), should undertake a visual inspection at least monthly7 (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 within the green zone; and
  • has seals/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. The responsible person should record these results (e.g. in a fire logbook)7.

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 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 5306-3:2017 details19 requirements for the process by which extinguishers should be recharged following their complete or partial discharge, making reference to the standard BS 5306-9.

Replacement of Components

BS 5306-3:2017 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 5306-3:2017 requires21 that extinguishers that are found to be defective are to be categorised and marked as “Condemned” or “Corrective Action Required”. 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 safe and warning labels affixed were so required22.

Evaluation of Fitness for Service - Condemned Extinguishers

BS 5306-3:2017 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 conditions, including24:

  • 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;
  • for metal-bodied extinguishers
    • 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;
  • further examples for any extinguisher with a non-metal extinguisher body

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;
  • no instructions 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 5306-3:2017, clause 3.15.
  2. As per BS 5306-3:2017, clause 3.6 and Annex I.
  3. As per BS 5306-3:2017, clause 5.1 and Annex A.
  4. As per BS 5306-3:2017, clause 10.2.4.
  5. These include: soda acid extinguishers, extinguishers with a riveted body, extinguishers with a non-metal body manufactured prior to the year 2002, extinguishers that require inversion to operate, and non‑refillable extinguishers that have reached their expiry date..
  6. See BS 5306-3:2009 clause 9.2.3 and BS 5306-3:2017, clause 10.2.4. For non metal bodied extinguishers, it is now only those manufactured prior to the year 2002 that have no maintenance schedule provided. Trademarks are the property of their respective owners - Kevlar
  7. As per BS 5306-3:2017, clause 11.2.
  8. As per BS 5306-3:2017, clause 6.3, 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 5306-3:2017, clause 6.3, Table 1, note B.
  10. Extinguishers should be replaced at 20 years because BS 5306-3:2017 clause 6.3, Table 1 would otherwise necessitate an extended service or overhaul for the extinguisher which is already coming to the end of its life. It is therefore often 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 also a legal requirement under the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000.
  12. Class D extinguishers are typically powder extinguishers and typically 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 typically water-based extinguishers and typically 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 5306-3:2017, clause 6.3, Table 1, note D.
  16. As per BS 5306-3:2017, Annex B (normative), table B.1, actions numbers 9 and 16.
  17. As per BS 5306-3:2017, Annex B (normative), table B.1, action number 12.
  18. As per BS 5306-3:2017, clause 11.1 (e).
  19. As per BS 5306-3:2017, clause 8.
  20. As per BS 5306-3:2017, clauses 8 and 9.
  21. As per BS 5306-3:2017, clause 10.1.
  22. As per BS 5306-3:2017, clauses 10.2.1 and 10.3.
  23. As per BS 5306-3:2017, clause 10.2.1.
  24. As per BS 5306-3:2017, clause 10.2.2.
 



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