Disposal Process for Used, Expired Fire Extinguishers

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BROWNSVILLE - Having a fire extinguisher at home can potentially save lives and property. If an extinguisher has already been used or is expired, many are unaware of the process to dispose of them. 

CHANNEL 5 NEWS met with Brownsville EMT-firefighter and training specialist Robert Perez. He said most households' fire extinguishers should be disposed of after their first use. 

"It has to be in the green pressure level. The marker on the extinguisher is going to have a green and a red, and once you extinguish, it goes to the red," he said.

Perez said there won't be enough pressure in the fire extinguisher for its next use. According to him, getting rid of a used or expired  fire extinguisher can be a fairly simple process. 

"Expel the rest of it out, yourself outside in an area where you can expel the powdery residue out. Let it sit for a few days, try it again and see if it has any pressure inside the tank that's still expelling power. If it doesn't, then it's safe to put in the garbage," he said. 

Perez said people can simply put the extinguisher in the trashcan and let the garbage service do the rest. 

"The cost involved in refilling them will override the cost of replacing them," he said. 

We also reached out to Brownsville's city landfill administration to find out how they handle the disposal of fire extinguishers. 

Brownsville Landfill coordinator Jose Maldonado said people who already pay a garbage fee can dispose of them at the landfill at no cost. 

He stressed tanks must be completely depressurized. Otherwise, they could combust at the landfill. 

Maldonado said the tanks are then set aside with other metals to be sold to recycling companies. 

Perez said household extinguishers have a shelf-life of six years, unless specified by the manufacturer. 

Any commercial extinguisher should always be re-inspected and re-filled by a licensed professional after each use. Otherwise, they should be inspected every year. 

Perez said most homes do not have a fire extinguisher. He advised there should be at least two in every home, one near the kitchen and one in the garage. 

Most household extinguishers can be found at hardware and major retail stores. The tanks cost range from $10 to $40. 

Perez added used fire extinguishers should not be taken to the fire department for disposal. 


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