Fire extinguishers are designed to last but they will eventually need replacing. Certain fire extinguishers are now illegal to own or fall outside the scope of the BS5306 Code of Practice for extinguisher maintenance. They can also be damaged or become corroded over time. Your maintenance engineer will identify and condemn extinguishers which are deemed unusable, obsolete or beyond repair.
Recycling your Fire Extinguishers
Under no circumstances should you just throw a charged fire extinguisher in the bin. It is a pressurised container and is potentially dangerous if crushed and the contents can be a hazard to the environment. In any event it is more responsible to recycle.
Compare the cost of New for Old
As extinguishers get older the cost of maintenance and repairs can become significantly more expensive. Given the low cost of buying new fire extinguishers from Fire and Safety Centre you should consider if the ongoing cost of maintenance and restoration is cost effective compared to replacement with modern new extinguishers.
In some Regions Local Authorities and Privately owned recycling centres will accept charged fire extinguishers. Fire extinguishers contain different substances depending on the risk to be protected and the chemicals so used are potentially harmful if emptied or discharged into open drains and watercourses. It is therefore important that they are disposed of safely and when possible recycled. A registered ADR Recycling Centre (not most scrap yards) will arrange for the canisters to be stripped and the metals recycled. If the extinguisher is charged they will also either arrange safe disposal or capture the chemicals for reuse using specialist companies.
Discharging Obsolete extinguishers
If you are a Business you have a statutory duty of care to ensure the safe disposal of any waste you create. It is illegal to discharge chemicals into open drains and watercourses. AFFF foam extinguishers should only be discharged into a sealed drain to prevent contamination of ground water. ABC Dry powder can be safely incorporated into landfill, preferably in sealed containers, although it is bio-degradable. CO2 fire extinguishers and all other chemical-based fire extinguishers are best sent for recycling as the content can be recovered and reused. Only water extinguishers can be safely discharged into an open drain or onto open land.
Special Requirements for Halon Extinguishers.
Whether you are a homeowner or business if you own a Halon fire extinguisher these should be taken for recycling immediately. Since 2003 it has been illegal to own, use or deliberately discharge Halon extinguishers other than for very specific applications (see our Advice pages on Types of Extinguishers for more info on Halon and Halon substitutes). Halon has been linked to Ozone depletion and is now a restricted substance. Halon canisters are normally colour coded British Racing Green so are easy to identify. You should contact your local environmental health department for advice on disposal.
Halon substitutes include our FE36 Automatic extinguishers. In some applications e.g. clean rooms and electronics Carbon Dioxide provides an effective alternative.