This is a tale of a poor little Honda and a fire extinguisher. One fine day at the auto detail shop an insurance company dropped a bombshell on us. Couldn’t these guys ever call first? One of their clients had their car vandalized. The young woman that owned the car had parked it for the night – but she had left the sunroof partially open. Well, some “good Samaritans” had a grand idea – they took a fire extinguisher and sprayed its full contents into the car. Everything was white – it looked like a snowstorm had hit.
This presented a rather big problem. The dust from fire extinguisher powder is not very safe to breath, so the car was not safe to drive. The insurance adjuster was seriously considering calling the car a complete loss.
We were his last hope to save a big chunk of money. I decided to take on the challenge. The first thing to do was get the guys into some protective gear. I had them put on rain suits, rubber gloves, goggles and breathing masks. I didn’t want any of that stuff to get into their lungs or on their skin. Too toxic!
How Do You Clean Up After a Fire Extinguisher Discharge?
The first step in this job was to grab the shop vacuums. I put one guy on each side of the car. We had the Hepa filters on the vacuums so that no particles of the dust would escape into the rest of the shop. The guys started vacuuming from the top down. The stuff was everywhere – from the headliner to the air vents and everything in between. They must have spent an hour vacuuming. They even had to take long paint brushes to the vents to loosen up the crud so it could be sucked out.
Once we had vacuumed out as much of the dust as possible, it was time to do an interior auto detail. Even at this point I kept the guys in the protective gear just to be safe. We cleaned the headliner, dash, vents, doors, seats and carpets. Just to make sure we got every last speck of the dust out, I had the crew do the job twice. I didn’t want to have the car dry and then find more of the stuff hiding inside.
Who would do this type of thing? I mean who walks around the streets with a fire extinguisher, anyway?
Saving the Insurance Company a Ton of Money
Once everything was dry and checked over, it was time to call the insurance guy back and have him come and look over the car. He showed up with the car owner. I think the owner was really hoping the car was going to be totaled – maybe it would have been nice to get a new car out of the deal. Well, no luck there. We had done it. The insurance adjuster was simply blown away. He couldn’t have been happier. We had just saved his company literally thousands of dollars. My “big” bill didn’t look so bad.
I had quite a bit of experience working with insurance companies. I even taught classes for one of the major insurance carriers on how auto detailing could keep claims costs down. I guess we proved ourselves on this one. Bring it on.