To properly and safety dispose of an expired or damaged portable fire extinguisher, contact your local fire department to find out if they accept recycled extinguishers, or take extinguishers to a disposal site specifically for hazardous materials.

Unsure if your fire extinguisher is no longer safe to use? Some tell-tale signs are the age of your extinguisher and external condition, but there are other ways to know if it’s time to recycle or dispose of your portable fire extinguishers.

 How do I know when it’s time to replace a fire extinguisher?

 Keep in mind that you should always replace an extinguisher that has been used. However, if it has not been used, and it’s not over 10-12 years old, you may need to do an easy visual inspection to check for damage. Your fire protection company can also inspect all portable fire extinguishers in your building for signs of wear and tear or damage.


Here are a few key signs that it’s time to dispose of your fire extinguisher and get a new one:

  • Pressure gauge is in the yellow or red, meaning it’s low (if there’s no pressure gauge, a professional should inspect it)
  • External damage like a cracked hose or nozzle, broken handle, or missing locking pin
  • Missing inspection sticker or hang tag
  • Over 10 years old
  • Has been used before

3 methods for disposing of your fire extinguisher

 The three safest methods for fire extinguisher disposal are recycling it when empty, dropping it off at a fire department, or taking it to a specialty disposal facility.

  • Recycle the extinguisher if canister is empty. If an extinguisher is empty, you can simply throw them out with your recycling trash since they no longer contain hazardous materials. You may want to still check with your local recycling company about the best way to recycle the canister.
  • Call fire department if fully/partially charged. Some local fire departments accept portable fire extinguisher drop-offs. Call ahead of time before dropping off charged extinguishers.
  • Take extinguisher to hazardous waste disposal facility. If your local fire department is not accepting drop-offs, you can take the extinguisher to a hazardous waste disposal facility. Most cities and counties have their own local center for hazardous waste disposal. Look up centers in your area and schedule a drop off. Ask about hazard types and any restrictions before you go.

Why can’t I just throw away my extinguisher in the trash?

Depending on the type of fire extinguisher, most portable fire extinguishers contain powdered CO2. Other extinguishers may use water, halon, halon alternative clean agents, or dry or wet chemical. The bottom line is it’s just not safe to toss a charged fire extinguisher out with the trash.

Find out more

Fire Systems, Inc. is a local Atlanta fire protection company that’s been in business since 1986. As a premier leader in all things fire protection, we can help you come up with a detailed fire protection plan for your business. Our reputation and longevity in the industry allows us to work closely with local AHJs. We know what you need to not only comply with local fire codes, but also be ahead of the curve when it comes to innovative solutions in fire protection. Call us today at 770-333-7979 if you have any questions about fire protection. From portables to sprinkler systems, vehicle suppression to alarm monitoring, we do it all. Find out more on out website. We look forward to working with you.


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