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Inspection & Maintenance for Aircraft Fire Extinguishers

In the world of general aviation, fire extinguishers are a commonly overlooked piece of safety equipment. Even when an extinguisher is installed, maintenance is often neglected. Which begs the question, when should fire extinguishers be visually checked? When should they undergo maintenance? At what intervals?

We will answer all this and more so keep reading!


All fire extinguishers should be inspected & maintained regularly in accordance with NFPA No. 10, “Portable Fire Extinguishers.”

These inspection guidelines ensure that your extinguisher is in good working order so it is ready in case of emergency.

If you do not inspect and maintain your extinguisher it could be damaged, or (if very old) leak out. Meaning, it won’t work when you need it most. Do not put yourself if this situation!


Upon installation, extinguishers should be inspected and weighed, recording the weight on the provided inspection tag.

Monthly Inspections are quick and easy ways to ensure your extinguisher is in proper working order. Fire extinguishers must be inspected when initially placed in service and at minimum 30-day intervals or more frequently if circumstances dictate. Persons performing 30-day inspections are not be required to be certified.

Check the following:
  • Extinguisher is undamaged
  • Nozzle is unobstructed
  • The gauge pressure is in the operable (green) range
  • Lockpin and tamper seal are in place
  • Operating instructions are clearly visible
  • If the inspection reveals a deficiency in any of these conditions, corrective action must be taken.

Annual Maintenance

Extinguishers shall be subjected to maintenance not more than one year apart or when specifically indicated by an inspection. Maintenance is a thorough examination of the extinguisher, covering mechanical parts, extinguishing agent and expelling means. The extinguisher must also be weighed and recorded on the inspection tag.

It is intended to give maximum assurance that an extinguisher will operate effectively and safely, and should be done professionally. Most authorities require special tags be attached to the extinguisher to verify this service.

Further clarification from NFPA states:
“The annual maintenance of portable extinguishers, per NFPA 10, may begin from the date of installation. While not specifically stated in the standard, it is assumed that the extinguishers were installed in good working order and in accordance with NFPA 10. Therefore, they do not need to be subjected to the annual maintenance procedures for a full year.”

Six-Year Maintenance

Every six years, aircraft fire extinguishers that require a 12-year hydrostatic test shall be emptied and subjected to applicable maintenance procedures.

This should be done professionally and involves a thorough inspection and the replacement of certain parts.

When these maintenance procedures are performed during periodic recharging or hydrostatic testing, the six-year requirement shall begin from that date.

We received the following additional information from NFPA regarding six-year maintenance:
The six-year internal inspection must be performed relative to the previous internal inspection. Under typical circumstances, when an extinguisher remains fully charged from the date of manufacture, this must occur six years after the date of manufacture, regardless of the installation date.

If, however, the extinguisher was discharged and recharged at 3 years after the date of manufacture, the next six-year maintenance would then occur 6 years later (i.e., 9 years of the date of manufacture), since the recharging procedures include an internal inspection.

Similar to the hydrostatic test, this inspection may be performed any time within the year of the test interval. Note that this does not affect the timing of the next hydrotest.”

Twelve-Year Hydrostatic Test

All rechargeable H3R Aviation fire extinguishers require a 12 year hydrostatic test performed by a certified technician per NFPA 10.

Simply stated, the hydrostatic test confirms the integrity of the cylinder, and at the 12 year mark, is performed in conjunction with the 6 year maintenance.

NFPA has provided us additional information regarding the twelve-year hydrostatic test:
“Hydrostatic testing of portable extinguishers must be performed from the date of the last hydrostatic test, as stamped on the cylinder. Note that Section permits this test to be conducted any time within the year of the test interval and that it may be scheduled to coincide with the annual maintenance for that year.”


What happens if you’ve installed an extinguisher on your aircraft but neglected maintenance for an extended period of time?

1.)  Check the date of manufacture, on an H3R Aviation extinguisher you can find the four-digit year along the lower right side of the nameplate.

2.) Refer to the last required maintenance for the age of your extinguisher. For example, if your extinguisher nameplate says 2016 and it’s 2022, your extinguisher is six years old. You need to have the six-year maintenance done professionally.

3.) Keep track of your inspection and maintenance moving forward. Per NFPA, you can record your inspection and maintenance on the tag or digitally. Keep it somewhere you can easily access, this will make it easier to keep track of where you are at in the maintenance cycle.


The inspection and maintenance requirements we outlined above follow NFPA 10, which most manufacturers follow. However, we cannot speak for other companies and there are some exceptions for disposable extinguishers. You should always check your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer.


As a pilot, you are already used to following maintenance schedules and inspection procedures for your aircraft.  Now that you know what to do adding extinguisher maintenance to your checklist should be a breeze!

Not only will you be prepared but also you will be able to fly with the confidence that you are ready for any fire that might take place, whether it is in-flight or on the runway.

If you have any questions about our extinguishers you can always reach out via e-mail at or call 800-249-4289.

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