Fire Equipment Inspections: Here’s what you need to know

Fire Equipment Inspections: Here’s what you need to know

As every facility manager knows, proper inspection, testing and maintenance (ITM) of fire equipment is a cornerstone of building safety. 

As per NFPA 10, fire equipment is required to be inspected during installation, on a monthly basis thereafter (every 31 days) at minimum, and once annually by a licensed fire extinguisher maintenance contractor.[1]

In one case from 2019, an Alberta fire protection company and a number of businesses that hired them were slapped with over $100,000 in fines for allowing "unqualified and uncertified persons" to install portable fire extinguishers and fire protection systems. Fines for first-time violations of the fire code by companies and individuals start at $100,000 and/or 6 months in jail, and can reach up to $500,000 for later offenses. As a Property Manager, you can protect yourself and your company by asking your fire protection company for proof of accreditation before an installation takes place, and by booking an appointment with a local fire prevention officer to ensure your fire equipment is not in violation of code requirements.[2]

The frequency of fire equipment inspections will depend on the potential for rust, damage and interference at the location where it is installed.[1]

Look out for these potential sources of environmental stress that can damage and reduce the efficacy of fire extinguishers:

  • Locations that make extinguishers susceptible to mechanical injury or physical damage

  • Severe hazards

  • Exposure to extremely high or low temperatures

  • Exposure to corrosive atmospheres

Here's a checklist of things to look for when inspecting fire extinguishers and hoses at your property:

  • Located in an appropriate, designated place

  • Hung on a bracket or in a cabinet

  • No obstruction to access or visibility

  • Check to ensure pull pin is in place; look for broken or missing tamper seals

  • Examine for obvious physical damage, corrosion, leakage, or a clogged nozzle

  • Pressure gauge reading in operable range >> fully charged (If applicable)  

  • Fullness (determined by weighing or hefting)

  • Operating instructions on nameplate are legible and facing outwards

  • Hose is in proper position and operable condition, connected to valve and nozzle

  • Nozzle is free and clear of debris

Annual maintenance inspections of your fire equipment must be performed by a licensed professional. Fire extinguishers must undergo service and/or hydrostatic testing once every 5 or 6 years; 12 years for dry chemical extinguishers in conjunction with 6-year internal examinations; or immediately after use. [3] During the inspection, the licensed professional will check service dates to determine if a 6-year or hydrostatic test is due.

Landlords and building staff at smaller commercial and residential buildings may not have much difficulty keeping track of these ITM schedules, but for large properties, facilities and high-rise buildings, having a reliable system for inspecting and maintaining fire equipment is essential to meeting code requirements and ensuring locations aren’t being missed ‒ particularly since fire extinguishers have been cited as the most frequently missed workplace inspection item by industry professionals.[4]

There are several reasons inspections for fire equipment and other items are missed all too often ‒ one of the most common being obstructions blocking extinguishers & fire hose cabinets from view of inspectors ‒ and business closures accompanied by changes in building occupancy due to the COVID-19 Pandemic have caused routine inspections to fall by the wayside in violation of regional fire codes. Beyond the penalties associated with these violations, a report from the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) states that 40% of businesses do not reopen following fires or other disasters, and another 25% fail within a year from when the fire/disaster occurred.[5][6] This means that compliance with code requirements is essential to the future operation of your company.

Digital solutions for fire equipment ITM can further help prevent missed inspections and ensure compliance by:

  • Providing maps with pins on remaining equipment locations during a round of inspections

  • Eliminating human error through NFC microchip technology; no accidental mismatching i.e., between northeast and north mechanical rooms on a floor

    • Note: Unlike barcodes, NFC inspection tags remain functional even in imperfect conditions i.e., if they get paint or dust on them, all weather conditions, etc. 

  • Creating an automated ITM schedule and log that will meet legislative requirements; no need to sign paper tags and a fire log book

  • Sending email notifications for near-due and overdue inspections and service dates, and for deficiencies at Equipment locations

To learn how Tap Report can digitize and simplify your fire equipment inspections, please contact us at

More from Tap Report: 5 Reasons Inspections Get Missed by Honest Workers; Fire Emergency Systems in High-Rise Buildings; Is Your Fire Watch Program Up To Code?; Top 8 Benefits of Digital Inspections