How to Dispose of a Fire Extinguisher

Almost every business in the United States is going to have several different fire extinguishers spread throughout, so what do you do when you have to get rid of them due to either age or use. Depending on how much of the extinguisher that has been used, the process of recycling them can either be very quick and simple or it can take a fair bit of time in order to do so legally.

If it has already been used, you can set the empty extinguisher in the recycling bin, but otherwise, you will have to take your extinguisher to either the local fire department or hazardous waste disposal location. Doing this should ensure that your extinguishers are safely disposed of.

There are several other steps besides just taking your old extinguisher because you can’t just arrive at your local fire department and request them to take your fire extinguishers off your hands. Below I will cover all of the details that will be needed in order for you to know when, and how to get your fire extinguishers disposed of both properly and legally.

When to Replace your Fire Extinguisher

First, If you ever end up using your fire extinguisher, then after that first use it needs to be replaced. Once it has been used, no matter how large the extinguisher may be, you should replace it. This is because once the pin has been pulled, the pressure inside will exit making it unusable after the first use.

You should also replace and dispose of your fire extinguishers after they are ten years old. The typical lifespan of an extinguisher is 10-12 years, but it is better to replace them earlier to avoid any possible mishaps caused by age. Letting your extinguisher get too old can cause damage to it like pressure loss or cracks beginning to form in the hose. Make sure to have your extinguishers inspected regularly to make sure there is no damage or dangers present with your extinguishers.

Other reasons that will make you want to replace your extinguisher include the pressure gauge being in the red or yellow (if you have no gauge, have a professional inspect it fairly often), damage liked a cracked hose, broken handle, or a missing lock pin, missing its inspection sticker or tag, or is over 10 years old. If any of these are present, it is strongly suggested that you dispose of your current extinguisher and replace it. (Source)

Where to Send Old Fire Extinguishers

If your fire extinguisher is completely empty, then getting rid of it is incredibly easy. Since it is empty, it is simply just a large metal can and can be placed into any recycling bin. However, make sure to prevent any problems by making sure the extinguisher is completely empty.

The easiest place to go to drop off your old or damaged fire extinguishers is at your local fire department. However, before just driving over to the nearest fire station, call and ask if they can give any information that might help you dispose of the extinguisher more easily. From there they will tell you how to empty your extinguisher if it needs to be empty before bringing it to them, or if it is alright to just drop it off. (Source)

If the extinguisher is not empty then another option you have is to take it to a hazardous waste facility so that they can carefully and safely recycle any reusable parts while preventing any damage to the environment and other people. This is because some extinguishers contain chemicals that can cause damage to the environment like those in the halon extinguishers and halon alternative extinguishers.

Where are Hazardous Waste Disposal Locations?

The vast majority of cities are going to have one or more different hazardous waste disposal facilities. Depending on how close you are to a large city, it could mean that the nearest facility could be anywhere from 10 minutes to several hours away. The easiest and quickest way to find your nearest hazardous waste disposal facility is to search, “hazardous waste disposal near me” in almost any search engine or you can search for them here.

Why Can’t I put a Fire Extinguisher in the Trash?

There are lots of different types of fire extinguishers and if you don’t know the specific type of fire extinguisher that you have with you then simply placing it into the trash can cause massive damage to the environment since some extinguishers are made with lots of chemicals. This isn’t true for every single extinguisher since the majority tend to either use CO2 or water, but since there are still a fair amount of extinguishers that use halon or halon alternative agents it can be risky to simply place them into the trash. (Source)

For those who do know exactly what type of extinguisher they have, then you do have the opportunity to simply just throw it into the trash or recycling bin at your own house. If your extinguisher is a water extinguisher then you can just go outside and use your extinguisher until it is empty. Then, just place the container into the trash or recycling bin. If it is a CO2 extinguisher, then take two heavy-duty garbage bags. Empty the extinguisher into the bags and place them in the trash. If you don’t know the type of extinguisher you have, be safe and communicate with hazardous waste or the firefighters. (Source)

Check your Local Laws

The easiest way to know what you should do with your old fire extinguishers is to check local laws. Between different towns, cities, and states you are going to have different legislation and thus, going to have different rules and regulations when it comes to disposing of fire extinguishers. To find these laws, the easiest way is to search “fire extinguisher disposal laws…” and finish with your state or city. So while I have covered the most basic and common methods of disposing of fire extinguishers, you may have other options available to you depending on where you live.

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