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Having a fire extinguisher in your home or business is a very important fire prevention tool. But, what happens if you have to use the fire extinguisher? Traditional, dry chemical powder fire extinguishers leave behind quite a mess after use and will cause damage to your health, electronics, and appliances. Aside from dry chemical powder, common extinguishers have historically included water and carbon dioxide fire extinguishers; however, seldom does anyone have carbon dioxide extinguishers any longer and rarely does anyone use a water fire extinguisher in their home. Traditional, dry chemical extinguishers require significant clean-up and are likely to cause multiple types of damage – over and above the fire. Because dry chemical extinguishers are hygroscopic, they absorb water. This means the powder can cake into a solid shell around the material it was spared onto. Chiseling the residue off can cause even more damage to your property. Furthermore, this powder is corrosive to electronics, wiring, and appliances. The discharge, which is typically ammonium phosphate, is also an irritant to the eyes, skin, and lungs. And, keeping in mind that the substance is hygroscopic (water absorbing), you definitely don’t want that getting into your lungs!
Like we said, most dry chemical fire extinguishers contain a chemical known as ammonium phosphate, which is known to be highly corrosive and very unpleasant to get in your eyes, breathe in, get in an open wound, and will greatly amplify any negative effects of a fire. Of course, it is better to have a dry chemical extinguisher than nothing; however, you need to understand that you are spraying a very fine (finer than flour!) corrosive powder that will get everywhere. Truly everywhere! We’ve heard from customers that had basement fires, that they found dry chemical powder in their attics after fires! It can truly create such a mess.
With that in mind, if you do use a dry chemical fire extinguisher, our recommendation is to bring in a professional disaster/emergency clean-up service provider. If you decide to clean the mess up yourself, make sure that you are wearing protective clothing and are in a well-ventilated space with the windows open. Vacuum up, bag, and place the residue from the fire extinguisher in a dumpster away from your home or office. Try to avoid sweeping the discharge indoors as the chemicals can get mixed up in home dust and fire residue – also, you’ll want to avoid kicking it up into the air as much as possible
While cleaning, be sure to wear a surgeon’s mask or some other type of dust-mask to save you from the pain of breathing in the powder. A shop-vacuum can be used to clean up fire extinguisher residue outdoors, but it is better to use a special HEPA vacuum for indoor clean up that will not disperse the chemicals and the dust into the air. Do not add water to chemical water extinguisher discharge. Water can make the powder pasty, more corrosive, and harder to clean. After the surfaces that were sprayed with the fire extinguisher have been cleaned, give the surfaces a neutralizing wash of vinegar or alcohol depending on the chemicals used in the fire extinguisher.
Why is STOP-FYRE a cleaner, safer, and more effective choice? A STOP-FYRE fire extinguisher is a clean agent fire extinguisher, which is safe on machinery, electronics, and skin. It leaves behind no corrosive residue and/or powder. When you use one, the only mess to clean up is what was caused by the fire. Again, there is no mess left behind by STOP-FYRE, so you will be able to get up and running much faster than if you use a traditional, dry chemical powder extinguisher. You’ll also save on the cost of a professional clean-up service after using a traditional, dry chemical powder extinguisher.