For updates on the Sunshine Canyon fire, visit Boulder Office of Emergency Management status page.

Emergency Status
Jul 10

Fire Suppressant Safety Information

Below are suggestions and precautions for all categories of wildland fire chemicals and long-term retardants.

Retardant contains ammonia and will sting if it gets into cuts or scratches or comes into contact with chapped or sunburned skin.

  • Wash thoroughly with a gentle soap and water to remove all residues, as many of the fire chemicals can cause the skin dry out.
  • After washing, use a good-quality hand cream to minimize drying and chapping.

Pets & Other Animals

  • Shampoo thoroughly, as many of the products are very drying to skin
  • Use materials that will effectively absorb any puddles after shampooing, or in areas where animals may have access. Materials such as sand, soil, or other absorbents, should be used on any standing water or puddles.
  • Avoid ingestion of water – keep animals away from puddles.
  • If your pet appears ill after drinking from puddles or standing water, make sure your veterinarian knows that the animal may have ingested a fertilizer-based product.

Structures (wood/metal)

  • The red color of retardants comes from iron oxide (rust), which can be difficult to remove.
  • Wash retardant off as soon as possible. Some of these products may discolor metal.
  • Dampening a stained surface with water, and then scrubbing it with a wet, stiff-bristled brush dipped in borax has been effective.
  • Power washers may drive the red colorant into the surface of the wood and should generally be avoided.
  • Restrict water use to prevent puddles that may be attractive to pets.
  • Avoid leaving standing puddles of water by using absorbent materials, such as sand, soil, or other materials.


  • Rinse retardant off of vegetation. Avoid leaving standing puddles of water by using absorbent materials, such as sand, soil, or other materials.
  • Leaf burn may occur since retardants contain levels of fertilizer higher than what is often sold at garden stores. This causes vegetation and plants to appear dead after contact; however, they will generally recover and grow back – usually within one to two months.
  • As with any garden produce, wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly before using.