Fire extinguishers are now used more than ever. Unfortunately, their maintenance is no less than a hassle. Especially, taking in the fact that their contents expire after a few years, whether it is used or not. These contents can also be toxic and must be disposed of properly. We’ll see what are the options to dispose of an expired fire extinguisher.
Fundamentals Of A Fire Extinguisher
There are several types of fire extinguishers. The most common type is a dry chemical. It sprays the fire with chemicals that deprive the fire of oxygen to put it out. It is the type found in most kitchens. Most dry chemical extinguishers are labeled with ABC. ABC labeled extinguishers are good for use in general materials (like wood to plastic or cloth), chemical and electrical fires.
Another type of extinguisher, and the one that is becoming quite common, is carbon dioxide. Since fire needs oxygen to burn and grow, replacing the surrounding air with carbon dioxide “drowns” the fire and it goes out. Carbon dioxide extinguishers are usually labeled for BC fires (chemical and electrical).
A third type is a foam extinguisher. These are mainly used in chemical fires that do not respond to dry chemicals or carbon dioxide.
Another fire extinguisher, which isn’t usually found in offices and homes, and is only available for “D” fires. These are made of flammable metals. This type of extinguisher usually contains fine sand powder or metal and is used to soften a fire that may not react to other extinguishers.
All fire extinguishers rely on a propeller to push their contents out of the hose and over the fire. Similar to how a whipped cream canister will “wear out”, it is the propellant in fire extinguishers that tends to expire.
Recharging Fire Extinguishers
Depending on the facilities in your community, you can have fire extinguishers recharged for a low fee. Check your fire extinguisher to make sure it can be recharged (some are for single use). Then, call your local fire department’s office and ask if they provide this service.
Disposing Single-Use Model Fire Extinguisher
If your extinguisher is a single-use model, you must dispose of it properly. This means you can’t throw it in the trash or at a local landfill. Expired fire extinguishers qualify as a hazardous waste due to its inner contents. To get rid of an old expired or empty fire extinguisher, call the Public Works department in your area or the health services. They can show you where to take your fire extinguisher or where and when you can leave it to be picked up by them.
Disposing/Recycling Of Fire Extinguishers: When The Life Of The Extinguisher Is Over.
Extinguishers have a shelf life of 20 years, after which one must proceed to dispose them.
But what happens to a fire extinguisher when its shelf life ends? Who manages the withdrawal of extinguishers that are no longer worth it? What to do with them?
There is no doubt that fire extinguishers can produce a huge amount of waste. And this waste must be managed effectively. In fact, there is a strict environmental regulation on waste management. This regulation affects fire extinguishing systems in general. Due to this, there are companies directly responsible for the removal of dust from extinguishers that are no longer useful. They manage everything right from their destruction to the recycling. They recycle old fire extinguishers using ecological methods that are under current regulations.
How Do You Recycle A Powder Extinguisher?
As we have already seen, when powder extinguishers are out of service they can be recycled. A fire extinguisher that can no longer be used for this purpose can be used to remove various materials.
First look for a company that specializes in both the removing and disassembling of the extinguishers. Of-course companies should follow the current regulations as well. People owning fire extinguishers must also maintain records in an annual report.
Disassembly of an extinguisher is a delicate process. This process shouldn’t be carried out by anyone except for a professional who specializes in it. Fire extinguishers are pressure mounted devices, and disassembly is a dangerous action. Therefore, companies involved in the recycling of fire extinguishers must have qualified and trained professionals.
Once the extinguisher has been disassembled its components are separated. These components are mainly steel, PVC, extinguishing agent (powder) and hose.
• With the steel obtained from the bottle, new steel bottles can be manufactured. The main advantage of recycling bottles is that the CO2 emission that occurs in the manufacture of bottles with recycled steel is three to four times less than using the traditional method.
• From the hoses, you get a product that is used to make floors, insulators, coatings, and much more.
• The PVC of the nozzles extracted from the extinguishers is used for the manufacture of a large number of products. Products such as containers, packaging, furniture, textile fibers, footwear, tubes, cables, etc are manufactured.
Can I Use An Expired Extinguisher?
Simply put, you should never use an expired extinguisher. However, with proper care and maintenance, your extinguisher should easily last 20 years. Technicians can help you determine if your fire extinguisher is still safe by performing a hydraulic test (removal and recharge) every five years. If your fire extinguisher is no longer safe, they can also provide you with a new one.
When Do You Need To Replace A Fire Extinguisher?
Your fire extinguisher must be replaced when:
• When the pin or the ring is without a seal and not in place.
• Its handle is broken or wobbly.
• The hose or nozzle is cracked, broken, or clogged.
• Seal around the neck weakens or decomposes, allowing compressed nitrogen to escape, which will reduce the pressure on the fire extinguisher and cause a malfunction.
• The chemical powder in your extinguisher cakes. If this happens, a fire protection service company can empty and recharge the extinguisher, so you won’t have to replace it.
• The inspection label is not readable.
A fire extinguisher is a residue
Filled with pressurized chemicals, fire extinguishers cannot simply be thrown away. We need to take certain measures to make sure it is safe.
If the extinguisher is not empty:
• Call an authorized company for the collection of fire extinguishers, the company will recycle it by separating the elements and depositing the waste.
If the extinguisher is empty:
• Squeeze its lever to make sure all the pressure is released.
• Remove the extinguishing head so that whoever gets rid of the extinguisher knows that all contents have been removed.
• Once its extinguisher is completely empty and its head detached, most recycling facilities will accept the steel body.