Wheeled fire extinguishers explained

25 April 2019 by Robert Thilthorpe, FIA Technical Manager

Think you know it all when it comes to commissioning and maintaining fire extinguishers?  What about mobile and wheeled fire extinguishers?

Mobile and wheeled portable fire extinguishers are typically larger and heavier than the average portable fire extinguisher, due to their larger capacity.  These wheeled giants are designed for when portability is necessary, for example on construction sites, industrial complexes, or processing plants. Their wheels mean that the extinguisher can easily be moved to the source of the fire.

Which may lead to the question: if the extinguisher is mobile, where should it be located?

Well, that depends on the hazards and risks at the site.  The location for the extinguisher should be suitable, and if sited in a corrosive/ hazardous environment the effects should be considered with reference to corrosion and legibility of instructions (a box or cover may be necessary). Additionally, if the extinguisher is installed on marine vessel it is subject to specific regulations on maintenance.

When it comes to actually servicing a mobile or wheeled fire extinguisher, there are a few key points.

Firstly, the ‘responsible person’ (as named by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005) should ensure that a basic service is carried out at 12 monthly intervals. The maintenance intervals for a basic service can be done within +/- 1 month of the required service date, allowing for some flexibility. Intervals should be taken from the date of installation or the last basic service. Additionally, the length of intervals may be shortened on the recommendation of the service provider, where inspection deems it necessary.

Secondly, an extended service should be carried out at 5-year intervals for powder and foam units.  Again, it is the responsibility of the ‘responsible person’ to ensure that the extended service is carried out at the proper intervals, with the same rules about the scheduled service date being +/- 1 month as described above.

Both the basic service and the extended service have different procedures, which are outlined in the FIA’s updated guide, ‘Code of Practice for the Maintenance of Mobile Fire Extinguishers manufactured to BS EN 1866’.

Commissioning the wheeled fire extinguisher is done in five simple steps: an external examination of the extinguisher; then a check on the operating instructions (are they legible and in English?); a visual inspection to check the extinguisher has not been used; filling the extinguisher according to the manufacturer’s instructions (if needed); and finally the maintenance label should be affixed in an appropriate position, and the details should be completed.

It is important to note that any labelling that is applied to the mobile fire extinguisher should not obscure any marking required by BS EN 1866.

As with all servicing, communication between the service provider and the responsible person or client is key.  

A written report should be completed, and the service provider should advise the responsible person of any mobile fire extinguishers that have been condemned or are missing; if any permanent replacement mobile extinguishers are required as a replacement; of any additional mobile fire extinguishers required to ensure that the level of cover at the premises is appropriate for the risks present;  that any replacement or additional mobile fire extinguishers should be provided as soon as possible; and of the responsible person’s obligation under fire legislation to provide an appropriate level of fire –fighting equipment at all times.

For further information about servicing and maintenance of wheeled and portable fire extinguishers, including a step by step guide to each procedure, download the FIA’s updated guide, ‘Code of Practice for the Maintenance of Mobile Fire Extinguishers manufactured to BS EN 1866’, available free of charge in the Publications Library.