Vandalism Using Stolen Fire Equipment Needs To Be Extinguished

Graffiti vandalism has sunk to new lows in the last decade with unauthorised spray painting and tagging remaining a curse for many local councils, businesses and residents who have to foot the bill to remove graffiti on a regular basis.

In recent years graffiti vandals have upped the stakes and have now turned to using fire extinguishers as giant spray cans, allowing them to spray vandalism quicker and across wider areas than ever before. Timothy McDonald of the ABC has said “One man’s vandal is another’s graffiti artist. But if someone fitting either description wants to use a fire extinguisher to tag a wall, they won’t have much trouble finding detailed instructions on the internet.”

If a graffiti vandal succeeds in refilling a fire extinguisher with paint and re-pressurizing it – hopefully without injury – they’ll be able to spray a lot of paint onto a wall in a very short time. The vandalism is usually pretty simple, because the fire extinguisher empties out in a matter of seconds, but the letters are often huge. For those who clean it off, such as The Graffiti Eaters, a local expert graffiti removal company, it can be a terrible mess to deal with as vandals know it’s easy to do and that it’s very hard to get off when placed in difficult-to-reach places, as access equipment and safety gear is usually required in the removal process.

The hire of access equipment and use of industry-leading safety equipment can increase the cost of graffiti removal and is why we strongly suggest to lock or at least keep fire extinguishers and other similar items well out of reach of potential vandals.

The dedicated technicians of The Graffiti Eaters are getting called out to more and more jobs where fire extinguishers have been used and this has also included paint sprayed by similar items such as ‘super-soaker’ water pistols, spray bottles and more.

The popularity of using fire extinguishers to spray graffiti vandalism is growing at an alarming rate with Lachlan MacDowall, an expert on graffiti who works in the Centre for Cultural Partnerships at the University of Melbourne saying “Fire extinguishers have been used for some time to spray graffiti and have become part of a long tradition of improvisation among graffiti vandals.”

So using fire extinguishers to spread graffiti on buildings and other assets seems to be part of a larger trend of trying to produce implements for graffiti out of everyday objects. MacDowall also said that vandals “who use fire extinguishers are partly reacting to the increasing legitimacy of street art. He says some artists don’t like the fact that street art isn’t as dangerous as it once was.”

In Australia today we have a lot of opportunity for people to undertake graffiti in a legal context and also there’s a lot of custom made spray paints where you can get easily interchangeable nozzles of different sizes and a massive range of colours, so there is a sense that graffiti perhaps has become a little bit too democratised or a little bit too easy. It will for the meantime remain an illegal fringe activity that causes frustration and negative consequences but for many people using the fire extinguishers is another way to remain ‘on the edge’ of acceptable societal behaviour.