How to Properly Recycle a Fire Extinguisher

November 10, 2023

Fire extinguishers are essential safety devices in homes and workplaces. However, there may come a time when you need to dispose of one. This could be due to a fire extinguisher that is expired, one that has been damaged, or simply one you no longer need. Disposing of a fire extinguisher requires careful handling to ensure the safety of yourself and the environment. In this blog post, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to properly recycle a fire extinguisher.

Before considering disposing of a fire extinguisher, check the label for its expiration date. This can be found on the back or bottom of the cylinder. If on the bottom, it may be a 2-digit number. For instance, if is says “12” then the extinguisher was manufactured in 2012. Most fire extinguishers have a gauge or tag that indicates when they should be replaced. If the extinguisher is still within its expiration date and is in good working condition, keep it or have it serviced instead of disposing of it. If not, continue reading below for How to Properly Recycle a Fire Extinguisher.

Step 1: Check for Remaining Pressure

Before you dispose of it, it’s crucial to depressurize the fire extinguisher completely. This step is essential to prevent any accidental discharges during the disposal process.

  1. Stand the fire extinguisher upright in a well-ventilated area.
  2. Pull the safety pin to enable the handle to be squeezed.
  3. Aim the nozzle away from people, animals, and anything flammable. Squeeze the handle to discharge any remaining extinguishing agent.

Here’s a video demonstrating how to discharge a fire extinguisher.

Step 2: Remove the Valve Assembly

The valve assembly contains various components, including the pressure gauge, which may not be suitable for regular disposal. It’s essential to remove these components for separate recycling or disposal.

  1. Use a wrench to loosen the valve assembly from the body of the fire extinguisher.
  2. Carefully separate the valve assembly and the body, ensuring not to damage or puncture to the extinguisher’s cylinder.

Step 3: Empty the Extinguishing Agent

Fire extinguishers typically contain dry chemical powder, foam, or other extinguishing agents. It’s essential to dispose of these materials correctly and per local regulations.

  1. Pour the extinguishing agent into a sealable, labeled container. Be sure to follow your local guidelines for hazardous waste disposal.
  2. Rinse the interior of the fire extinguisher with water to remove any remaining residue, then pour out the water.

Step 4: Recycle the Fire Extinguisher

Now that the fire extinguisher is depressurized, the valve assembly is removed, and the extinguishing agent is safely contained, you can recycle the cylinder.

  1. Contact your local recycling center or hazardous waste disposal facility to inquire about their specific regulations for fire extinguisher disposal.
  2. Follow their instructions for either recycling the metal body (if possible) or disposing of it as hazardous waste.

Step 5: Properly Label the Container

If you have collected the extinguishing agent in a container for disposal, label it clearly to indicate its contents. This is important for the safety of waste handlers and the environment.

  1. Write “Fire Extinguisher Residue” or a similar label on the container.
  2. Include any additional information required by your local disposal facility.

Disposing of a fire extinguisher is a responsible and safety-conscious action. Furthermore, by following these steps and adhering to local regulations, you can ensure the extinguisher is correctly decommissioned while minimizing environmental impact. Safety should always be a priority during this process, so exercise caution when depressurizing the extinguisher and handling its components. Remember, recycling or properly disposing of a fire extinguisher is good for the environment and necessary to maintain a safe living or working space.

Contact us at 662-892-8723 if you need assistance. You don’t need a portable fire extinguisher license to dispose of an expired extinguisher properly, but we’re always happy to perform this service if you need assistance.