How to Properly Cleanup After a Fire Extinguisher Discharge

How to Properly Cleanup After a Fire Extinguisher Discharge

Amerex 589 Fire Extinguisher - Dry Chemical High Performance Compliance FlowThe fire extinguisher is a marvelous invention, and its use in successfully combating a fire before it spreads out of control is a major triumph. Also important after extinguishing the fire is properly cleaning up the fire extinguishment residue and taking the appropriate personal precautions in the process.

How to Safely Clean Up Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher Residue

The extinguishing agents (sodium bicarbonate, monoammonium phosphate, potassium bicarbonate) used in dry chemical fire extinguishers leave a corrosive powdery residue that can corrode metal surfaces if left in contact for very long and should be cleaned up as soon as possible.

Recommended cleaning strategies:

  • Any loose debris/product should be initially swept or vacuumed up to minimize dust and to reduce the amount of interventive solutions that will need to be used. The residue should then be placed in a bag for disposal.
  • Residue that has hardened and adhered to surfaces should be sprayed with a 50/50 solution of warm water and isopropyl alcohol. Let the solution sit on the hardened residue for a few minutes to allow it to dissolve, then thoroughly wipe it away with a damp material such as a cloth or towel.
  • To neutralize sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate residue, make a solution consisting of 98% hot water and 2% vinegar, apply it to the residue, and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it away with a damp material such as a cloth or towel.
  • To neutralize monoammonium phosphate residue, make a paste by mixing baking soda with hot water, and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it away with a damp material such as a cloth or towel.
  • A final cleaning with soap and water of all exposed surfaces, including any items to be used like cookware, should be conducted followed by a proper rinsing and drying.

Personal Protection Measures:

Because the fire extinguishment residue is a moderate irritant to the respiratory system and eyes, and a mild irritant to skin, precaution should be made to avoid eye, respiratory, and skin exposure. The use of personal protective equipment (goggles, face mask, and latex gloves) may be warranted, especially if dust is created or exposure is lengthy and/or in a confined space.

First Aid Measures:

Should exposure to the extinguishment residue occur:

  • Skin Exposure: Wash skin with soap and water. If a significant skin reaction occurs, seek medical attention.
  • Eye Exposure: Flush eyes with water until pain-free. If irritation returns or persists after exposure, seek medical attention.
  • Inhalation: Remove the person from the area into fresh air. If irritation or shortness of breath continues, seek medical attention.

cleaning up a fire extinguisher dischargeHow to Safely Clean Up Class K Chemical Fire Extinguisher Residue

Purple K dry chemical fire extinguishers with a potassium bicarbonate-based agent are used to combat fires where flammable fires my occur such as in industrial kitchens. The extinguishing agent is discharged as a mist to cool cooking surfaces and extinguish the flames. All cooking surfaces and cookware must be properly cleaned before being used again.

Recommended cleaning strategies:

  • With all power to the kitchen area shut off, use a sponge that has been submerged in a hot water and soap solution to clean the area and wipe away the residue.
  • All cookware, dishes, glasses, and utensils that have been covered with residue must also be wiped clean with the hot water and soap solution, and then washed as usual in a dishwashing machine.
  • Let all surfaces and cookware thoroughly dry before restoring electrical power.

Personal Protection Measures:

The fire extinguishment is considered a mild irritant to eyes, mucus membranes, and skin. Precaution should be made to avoid eye, respiratory, and skin exposure. The use of protective rubber gloves is recommended during clean up.

First Aid Measures:

Should exposure to the extinguishment residue occur:

  • Skin Exposure: Wash skin with soap and water. If irritation develops and persists, seek medical attention.
  • Eye Exposure: Flush eyes with water until pain-free. If irritation develops or persists, seek medical attention.
  • Inhalation: Remove the person from the area into fresh air. If irritation develops or persists, seek medical attention.
  • Ingestion: This unlikely exposure can be treated by giving 2-3 glasses of water to drink and induce vomiting.

How to Safely Clean Up Clean Agent (Halotron, Carbon Dioxide) Fire Extinguisher Residue

Capable of extinguishing Class A, B, and C fires with a clean, residue-free agent, Halotron and carbon dioxide is used to fight fires involving sensitive electronic equipment. There is no residue to clean up as the agent dissipates into the atmosphere. However, cleaning the areas affected with soap and water can help remove the smoky smell from the fire.

Common Questions:

Does the Brand of Fire Extinguisher residue matter?

Maybe. Manufactures of fire extinguishers provide Material Data Safety Sheets (MSDS) that list out the proper steps and guidelines for cleaning up their specific fire extinguisher agent. Additionally, the MSDS will provide the necessary safety requirements/guidelines to consider when dealing with their products. For your convenience, you can click HERE to view the different MSDS for the major fire extinguisher manufactures: Buckeye Fire, Badger, Amerex, Kidde, Ansul, and Pyro-Chem.