Not long ago, a wheel loader operator noticed a small fire, grabbed his fire extinguisher from his cab, dismounted, pulled the pin, and squeezed off a steady stream of nothing but air.
The fire continued to burn. It was later determined the constant motion and jarring of his machine had caused the dry chemical within his fire extinguisher to pack tightly together. When he squeezed the handle, it stayed inside in a nice, nearly solid, cake.
The same thing could happen with a fire extinguisher mounted on or near a forklift, baler, shear, or other piece of equipment that is constantly vibrating the floor or ground around it.
To prevent this ISRI Safety recommends the following:
- When performing your monthly fire extinguisher inspections, make sure to take each extinguisher off its mount and give it a shake or two. You should feel the chemical shifting inside. If you don’t, have it checked by your fire extinguisher service company.
- Even if you have a third party that performs your monthly inspections, be sure to inform them of your inspection requirements because the responsibility ultimately falls to you.
- Avoid surprises. Take the time each month to do a thorough inspection of your fire extinguishers. They are there for a reason and could be the difference between a little inconvenience and a big loss.