What Do I Do With My Old Fire Extinguishers?
By Wayne Spivak, Branch Chief – National Training Department,
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
invariably happens. In fact it's almost common-place. One would be
amazed at how much this has become such a common occurrence.
happens every time I teach a safe boating course. It happened just the
other day, by e-mail. It is that e-mail that has prompted this
happens? I'm asked "What do I do with my old fire extinguishers?"
extinguishers manufactured in the past decade come in three varieties,
water filled, gas filled and chemical filled extinguishers. With the
exception of chemical filled extinguishers, both water filled and gas
(CO2) filled extinguishers are inert, and are not harmful.
The dry chemical variety can cause irritation, so extra care should be
taken with these units.
fire extinguishers may have been charged with chemicals such as carbon
tetrachloride or halon. If in doubt, contact your local fire
department or fire extinguisher service companies (found conveniently
in the yellow pages).
common denominator in the three different types of fire extinguishers
mentioned is the fact that they each container is under pressure.
Without pressure, when you squeezed the activating trigger, nothing
would happen. This is why, on most units today; there is a pressure
today's units are also rechargeable. This means for a small amount of
money, usually a fraction of the cost of a new unit, you can have your
fire extinguisher emptied, checked and re-filled.
get back to the inevitable question. You don't want the old fire
extinguisher. What do you do with it?
foremost, contact your local fire department, sanitation department or
environmental protection department and find out what your local laws
stipulate. Some locals consider fire extinguishers as hazard waste.
Others won't permit you to put fully charged extinguishers in with the
you may be able to dispose of discharged extinguishers. If you are
permitted, here's the chance to practice what we hope you will never
have to do, use the fire extinguisher.
when you use a fire extinguisher, you point at the bottom of the fire,
and spray with a left to right (or right to left) motion using short
bursts from the fire extinguisher.
under pressure, if crushed, can explode. Once the unit is discharged,
there is no potential of an accident should the extinguisher be
crushed during the disposal phase.
To learn more about what to do during a
boating emergency, why not take a boating safety course! The United
States Coast Guard Auxiliary has a variety of boating courses geared
for all levels of boating knowledge. You can contact your local
Auxiliary Flotilla by either calling your local Coast Guard unit or
visiting the Coast Guard on the web at
http://www.uscg.mil/default.asp or the Coast Guard Auxiliary at