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How to Clean Up Fire Extinguisher Residue

If you or an employee recently discharged a fire extinguisher to douse a blaze, you’re probably breathing a sigh of relief. Your quick response time has drastically reduced property damage and saved lives. Now, all you must do is clean up the fire extinguisher residue so your business can resume normal operation.

Here’s a quick explanation of the different types of fire extinguishers and how to clean up the residue they leave behind.


Cleaning Up Dry Chemical Fire Extinguishers

Dry chemical fire extinguishers are filled with foam and various chemicals used to fight fires. Monoammonium phosphate extinguishers put out Class A (ordinary), B (flammable liquids), and C (electrical) fires. Sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate extinguishers put out Class B and C fires only.

Dry chemical fire extinguishers leave behind a sometimes corrosive powder and therefore must be cleaned as soon as the fire department deems the building safe. Follow these steps:

  • Sweep or vacuum up loose residue.
  • Break down the silicone found in dry chemical fire extinguishers by spraying the remaining residue with isopropyl alcohol diluted by half with warm water. Let the solution work for a few minutes, and then rinse with water.
  • For monoammonium phosphate-based extinguishers, neutralize these dry chemicals by washing with hot water and baking soda. Let the solution work for a few minutes, and then rinse with water.
  • For sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate-based extinguishers, neutralize these dry chemicals by applying a solution of 98 percent hot water and 2 percent vinegar. Let the solution work for a few minutes, and then rinse with water.
  • Clean the area with soapy water and rinse.
  • Blow dry the area to remove excess water and let it finish air drying completely.

Cleaning Up Wet Chemical Fire Extinguishers

Wet chemical fire extinguishers knock out Class K (grease and oil) fires that spring up in commercial kitchens. They form a salt compound that crusts over the flames, cutting off the oxygen supply and cooling the area. Wet chemicals also put out Class A fires, making them the perfect addition to restaurant kitchens.

To clean up wet chemical fire extinguisher residue:

  • Shut off all cooking equipment in the area and put on rubber gloves.
  • Scrub away foamy residue from all surfaces with a cloth or sponge dipped in hot, soapy water.
  • Rinse with clean water and dry completely before powering equipment back on.

Cleaning Up Class K Fire Extinguishers

Class K fire extinguishers are designed specifically to put out grease fires. They spray a fine mist of wet chemicals such as potassium citrate, potassium acetate, or potassium carbonate to create a foamy, soapy layer over the blaze. This retains steam and vapors, absorbing heat from the fire to extinguish it.

To clean up residue from a Class K fire extinguisher, simply wash the area with soapy water, rinse, and dry.

Cleaning Up Clean Agent Fire Extinguishers

Clean agent fire extinguishers are used to put out fires in rooms with sensitive items, such as delicate artwork, library books, or electronic equipment. The firefighting agents dissipate into the atmosphere, leaving no residue behind. Therefore, they require no clean-up after discharge.

Schedule Fire Extinguisher Services in Houston, TX

Fire extinguishers require recharging after each use. Even if you only used a little of the fire suppression agent to douse the flames, restoring your extinguisher to full pressure ensures it will function properly the next time you need it.

To have your canisters recharged, or to schedule other fire extinguisher services, please contact Kauffman Co. at (713) 893-1090. We have been a leader in the fire protection industry for over 35 years, and we’re proud to serve businesses across the Houston, TX area.

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