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How Do I Clean Up After a Fire Extinguisher Discharge?

If a fire starts, an attempt to tackle the fire using a fire extinguisher is often made. However, even if the fire itself does not cause much damage, the use of fire fighting equipment can have consequences of its own. Depending on the extinguisher used, a powder or wet residue can be left behind after the unit has been discharged. Below are a few helpful tips to help with cleaning up any mess that remains:

Protective Equipment Required

Powder Extinguishers

Dust mask, gloves and goggles should be worn as the chemicals in a powder fire extinguisher can be an irritant to the lungs, eyes and throat.

Foam, Water Additive, and Wet Chemical Extinguishers

Impermeable gloves and goggles should be worn as the chemicals in some foam-based fire extinguishers can be carcinogenic.

Cleaning Measures

Powder Fire Extinguishers

  1. Wear the protective equipment as listed above
  2. Use a vacuum cleaner to clean up the powder residue, or a brush to sweep it away if you do not have a vacuum cleaner
  3. Place all the powder from the vacuum cleaner, or any which has been swept up, into a plastic bag and seal it. Dispose of this bag in the usual waste bin
  4. Use a damp cloth to clean any powder residue off furnishings but do not use large amounts of water. There is a risk that any residue left may start to eat away at soft furnishings. Curtains should also be washed if possible

Foam, Water Additive, and Wet Chemical Fire Extinguishers

  1. Wear the protective equipment as listed above
  2. Soak up any excess foam or liquid residue with either paper towels or old towels that can be thrown away
  3. Wash the area thoroughly with water and use paper towels or an old towel to soak up any excess
  4. If possible, wash other contaminated fabrics such as curtains, carpets and soft furnishings
  5. Place all towels into a plastic bag and seal before throwing it away into the general waste bin