It’s a small price to pay for a piece of equipment that can save lives, but a fire extinguisher cleanup can be messy.
It’s important to ensure there are regular fire drills in the workplace and at home so that your employees, colleagues or family members know what to do in the case of an emergency, including how to use your fire extinguisher.
How to Clean up Fire Extinguisher Discharge
If you’ve had to use your fire extinguisher, but are now faced with the somewhat daunting prospect of cleaning up the chemicals or powder released into your home or work space, simply follow Fire Action’s tips below to ensure your cleanup is as hassle-free as possible.
The chemicals in fire extinguishers can vary depending on their function. As such, it is important to use the right cleaning method for the different types of fire extinguisher, saving you time and energy in the long run.
Checklists for how to clean up fire extinguisher discharge for either a wet or dry chemical extinguisher are below.
Wet Chemical Fire Extinguishers
Wet chemical fire extinguishers are flexible and effective, containing a liquid agent to reduce flames and cool hot surfaces, so are often used in kitchens. The discharge from this type of fire extinguisher is reasonably straightforward to remove, as you can use plenty of water to scrub any residue away.
How to clean up after a wet chemical fire extinguisher:
- Wear protective equipment, including impermeable gloves and goggles.
- Soak up the liquid or foam with paper towels or old rags that you can throw away.
- Wash the area thoroughly and scrub all surfaces – you might have to use plenty of water with foam extinguishers.
- Place all paper towels or rags used into a bag, then seal and dispose of it into the usual waste bin.
Dry Chemical Fire Extinguishers
Dry chemical fire extinguishers are compact and portable, making them ideal for a range of domestic or commercial environments. However, using water-based cleanup methods can actually turn the dry chemicals into a paste and make them much more difficult to shift.
How to clean up after a dry chemical fire extinguisher:
- Vacuum or sweep the affected area.
- Use a damp cloth to clean any leftover residue (avoid using large amounts of water).
- Place all powder from the vacuum into a bag, seal and then dispose of it in the normal waste bin.
If your fire extinguisher contains monoammonium phosphate, make especially sure to scrub away all residue, as it can be corrosive if allowed to remain.
Fire Extinguisher Damage
Whilst the chemicals in fire extinguishers are non-toxic, they can still pose some health risks to humans and animals, as well as to the environment.
Some fire extinguisher discharge effects to be aware of include:
- Inhalation – chemicals used in fire extinguishers may cause nasal and throat irritation, and those with medical conditions such as asthma may experience further respiratory difficulty. If in doubt, seek medical treatment.
- Powder on your skin – rinse immediately with water, and consult medical attention if any symptoms persist.
- Prohibited chemicals from drain systems – only water based extinguishers are safe to discharge down normal drains; the chemicals can be extremely hazardous to the environment.
- Pets – try to keep your pets out of the way during your cleanup operation, but if they inhale or get any chemicals in their fur, take them to the vet immediately for treatment.
For everything you need to know about fire extinguishers, as well as fire extinguisher maintenance and servicing, the Fire Action experts are on hand to help. Get in touch with our friendly team today.