After a Fire

Priority One

People are your first priority. Deal with any medical (including psychological) needs first. Make sure that anybody who needs to know that you are alright is informed.

Then you need to check for the damage to the boat, make sure it is secure, and then clean up the mess. There are two aspects to the damage caused by a fire:

  • The damage actually caused by the fire
  • The damage caused by the attempts to put it out – primarily caused by the fire extinguishers.

We took on the marine distributorship of the Go Earth Marine Fire Extinguishers precisely because they create far less mess and damage. This is especially important in the confined space of a boat.

The next section explains how to clean up. Note that powder fire extinguishers are particular problematic, as the powder goes everywhere, is potentially toxic, and acts as a laxative. Foam fire extinguisher chemicals are carcinogenic.

Cleaning up after discharging a fire extinguisher

Before you start the clean-up, ensure that the area is free of hazards. Then photograph and document everything and immediately contact your insurance company. Once the insurance gives the go-ahead, the clean-up can start.

Extinguisher Type Protective Clothing Needed
Go Earth Marine Fire Extinguisher Dust mask.
Powder extinguisher Dust mask, gloves, goggles. The chemicals in a powder fire extinguisher can be an irritant to lungs, eyes and throat. It must not be breathed in.
Foam, Wet Chemical Impermeable Gloves, goggles. The chemicals in foam fire extinguishers can be carcinogenic.

Cleaning Measures – these should only be done when the fire is completely extinguished and there are no other hazards. These measures below only include the effect of the fire extinguishers, and do not include cleaning up the direct results of the fire – that will require additional cleaning.

Cleaning Measures – these should only be done when the fire is completely extinguished and there are no other hazards. These measures below only include the effect of the fire extinguishers, and do not include cleaning up the direct results of the fire – that will require additional cleaning.
Go Earth Marine Fire Extinguisher 1.       Wear the recommended protective equipment

2.       Open the area to allow complete ventilation

3.       There should be little or no residue. If there is any, then gently wipe down all surfaces and wash any cutlery and crockery

Foam, Water additive, wet Chemical fire extinguishers
  1. Wear the recommended protective equipment
  2. Soak up the foam or liquid from the wet chemical or water extinguisher 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. Place all towels into a plastic bag and seal before throwing it away into the usual waste bin
Powder fire extinguisher
  1. Wear the recommended protective equipment
  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 that 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 residue of powder off furnishings, do not use copious amounts of water. There is a risk that any residue left may start to eat away at soft furnishings. Curtains should be washed if possible