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When I see fire extinguishers these days they seem to have some form of the yellow beaded tie as shown in this photo.

Fire extinguisher tied up

What purpose does this serve? It looks to me like it prevents the pin from pulling out. Hardly something you'd want in a fire. I've never had to use a fire extinguisher in real life, so please forgive my ignorance. Shouldn't the yellow tie be cut off?

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6 Answers 6

up vote 13 down vote accepted

The plastic ties are a tamper evident device, which lets you know if the fire extinguisher has been used. It also helps to prevent the pin from accidentally becoming dislodged, and potentially lost. They have a very low breaking strength, and can easily be broken by twisting (or pulling, but more difficult) the pin from the extinguisher.

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Speaking from recent experience: if you grab the pin and tug firmly, it will work: the pin will come out. (I have strong hands. YMMV.) –  Jay Bazuzi Jul 3 '13 at 19:15
    
I'd seen similar ties used to bundle electronics cables, and they definitely do not have a low breaking strength, hence my confusion. Thanks. –  duozmo Jul 13 '13 at 18:02
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@Aphex5 If you're using them to bundle electronics cables, they're probably not the same product (even though they may look the same). –  Tester101 Jul 14 '13 at 0:22
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I believe it's there to indicate that the pin has never been removed... to separate a factory new extinguisher from another.

I have removed the plastic tie from all the extinguishers in my home.

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must have a lack of pesky, inquisitive middle schoolers... –  HerrBag Jul 1 '13 at 16:37
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Another possibility, if this extinguisher's tag has a number or date (or if the tag is a form of color-coding), is that this may be used to indicate when the extinguisher was last inspected as part of a regular inspection and maintenance plan. This is typically performed annually, beginning with the date of installation.

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This can be true but more just supports Tester101's answer. Inspection tags are typically tamper-resistant/tamper-evident devices that are removed and replaced at time of inspection. I would highly suggest removing old/multiple tags, keep the current one, if the inspectors failed to removed them. –  Jason Jul 1 '13 at 20:08
    
@Monso: if you are using this extinguisher at home, then it is Ok to remove an inspection tag. If this extinguisher is not in a home, I would leave the tag. –  user7116 Jul 1 '13 at 20:11
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More of a FYI but there are alternatives as well, some companies are switching their residential lines to use plastic pull pins that has a smaller resistance to pull out that it sounds like some people would prefer. Personally it was just the one I happened to pick up a few years ago so I have one at my house.

Here's some example photos of the Kidde FA110 enter image description here enter image description here

I needed something more than a comment to post an image.

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As others have said, it is a tamper indicator. The reason fire extinguishers have tamper indicators is that they must be recharged after each use:

Extinguishers must be recharged after every use. Ask the dealer about the extinguisher and how it should be serviced and inspected. A partially used unit might as well be empty.

You'll find this sort of warning in just about any fire extinguisher manual. Once a fire extinguisher is partially discharged, it will lose pressure over time:

DO NOT FUNCTIONALLY TEST THIS FIRE EXTINGUISHER. (Testing or any use may cause the extinguisher to gradually lose pressure over a period of time and make the extinguisher ineffective.)

Since not everyone reads the manuals, they can't be expected to know this. The pressure gauge is not necessarily a reliable indicator of whether or not the unit has been discharged. The tamper indicator will tell you whether or not your extinguisher needs to be tested or recharged.

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This isn't true about 100% CO2 extinguishers, but that is like 1% of the market. –  Jason Jul 2 '13 at 14:50
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The ties are there to make sure that the pin is harder to pull out. When tanks are filled the pins are put into place and then the ties are put on so that the pins don't bounce or wiggle out.

You get them with the ties in place because they don't want pins coming out during shipping or whatever.

You see them on walls and under cabinets "ready to use" with the ties because the people putting them up there are too ignorant to think about the ties or they have had people "accidently" play with them and want to make this harder.

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You are supposed to leave the ties in place. You will not find a fire extinguisher that is serviced regularly by a company without these. –  Steven Jul 1 '13 at 19:59
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