How to Spot Non-Compliant Verification of Service Collars on Fire Extinguishers
What if you think you have a functional fire extinguisher, but then you find out, during an emergency, that they’re not? It’s like walking on a tightrope that suddenly snapped!
Fire extinguishers are your last defence in case of a catastrophic fire. Having a faulty one is endangering your life. That’s where the Verification of Service Collar comes into play. It’s a small collar that wraps around the neck of the extinguisher to prove that it has been properly serviced — tested and guaranteed to function well. Unfortunately, many service providers cheat their customers by not servicing the extinguisher correctly, sticking an invalid, or over-sized service collar, and then charging them for the service.
Why is it so important to have these collars?
The collars were implemented in the 1990s to ensure that fire protection companies do their jobs appropriately. The growing number of service providers cutting corners became too risky to ignore. Cheating the customers by sticking a label on the extinguisher without properly servicing them is not only unethical but also life-threatening. Implementing the use of collars slowed this from happening. The collars verify that the fire service companies do their jobs ethically and responsibly.
What does a proper fire extinguisher service look like?
The importance of having a fire extinguisher is clear, but having a dysfunctional one is dangerous. When a fire extinguisher is brought in for service, the technician:
- Disassembles the extinguisher
- Performs a hydrostatic test (if required) — done by filling the cylinder with water and pressure testing it to ensure its integrity
- Inspects & cleans the nozzle, valve, and threading for cracks, rust, and other possible weak points
- Reassembles the fire extinguisher (this is when the Verification of Service Collar is added)
- Fills the tank with the right amount of the required chemical
These steps are crucial to guaranteeing equipment functionality and integrity. Skipping any part of the process is compromising the safety of the customers and their employees. It also speaks of the service provider’s quality of work and integrity.
How to spot invalid service collars?
Oversized collars: Unfortunately, some companies cut corners by using an oversized collar and fitting it over the gauge in the handles, instead of taking the extinguisher apart. They will give it a couple of squirts of nitrogen to bring the gauge back up into the green, put the nozzle back on, hang the tag, add a new seal, and even charge the customer for a hydrostatic test. This is a degradation of the industry and a risk to the customers.
It’s impossible to put the right collar on if they don’t take the extinguisher apart. If the work is done properly, the Verification of Service Collar should be too small to be removed over the top of the gauge or the handles.
Tampered collars: In the case of the bulletin from the Office of the Fire Commissioner, one company was caught cutting the collars and taping them back together underneath to make it look like they hadn’t been separated. This is unethical and incredibly dangerous; it’s damaging the industry as a whole and frustrating for the customers who trust these companies to do the work right.
It’s crucial to ensure that when customers get their fire extinguishers refilled and correctly serviced, the right type of collar is put on them. This proves that the fire extinguisher will work as intended when needed.
How to verify that your extinguisher has been properly serviced?
It’s not easy to detect if an extinguisher has been correctly serviced or not, but knowing what to look for can help you have peace of mind.
Service collars are a small but essential tool for ensuring that service providers do their jobs responsibly. It’s crucial to have functional fire extinguishers in case of an emergency, and having these collars guarantees that they will work as they should — and save lives in case of fire.
Check your fire extinguishers, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Your safety is non-negotiable. Bison Fire Protection’s team of certified technicians does the work with the highest level of quality and integrity. We take our work seriously because life safety is a serious matter.
For service and repairs, call our office today.
For more fire extinguisher tips, watch our YouTube tips here.