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How nobody cut themselves on the broken glass shards is a mystery 

Door lock and facing smashed
Guides kit rifled through

Powder even on the stage

10 Kilograms of powder

Church Hall Break In - 2 July 2015 

Report and photos - Jim Paterson

Just like snow. Hall covered in fire extinguisher dry powder
Six am  is a little early for my alarm call and the phone ringing with a call from Bonnyrigg police station could only herald bad news. I met two police officers outside the church hall on Thursday 2nd July to see a smashed window and the main door swinging open in the breeze. As we entered the full extent of our uninvited guests became apparent.

The small side room had been shoulder charged  to break the simple yale lock, which ripped the lock keeper and door facing clean off the wall. For what? An old upright piano and some chairs, used by the choir for practice sessions. Some of the Guides equipment had been thrown about, no doubt to see if there was anything interesting. No chance of that, only games equipment and craft materials.

It was then I noticed a light white dust covering the vestibule corridor leading to the hall. 'It gets worse' reported one of the police officers. Opening the doors into the main hall one would have thought it was Christmas rather then mid summer. Everywhere was covered with a fine white powder, which I soon found out was from two of the dry powder fire extinguishers we have in the new kitchen and around the hall. Floor, tables, chairs, everything covered in this talcum powder like finish.  The two extinguishers contained 10 Kilograms of powder, that's 22lbs in old weight, a lot of powder.

The police dog team had been through to pick up a scent of the culprits, so it was down to us to clean the place up for our invited guests, for use on Sunday morning after the service for tea, coffee and a chat.  We found out later that a similar breakin of the South Church hall had occurred on the Tuesday evening.

Despite the holiday season Agnes Ovenstone managed to round up a team of ladies to help with the cleaning of all the mess. We gathered first thing Friday morning so that the dust cloud in the hall could settle.

Dry powder fire extinguishers, while not toxic, contain ammonium phosphate and ammonium sulfate, which can irritate skin, so we used gloves and avoided inhaling any fumes. we vacuumed up the residue, taking several loads to suck up the 10 Kilograms, and then washed all the floors and tables. The chairs were carried out into the garden and washed down, all 100 or so of them.

Whoever let the fire extinguishers off would have had difficulty avoiding inhalation of the powder, which is one of the biggest dangers with fire extinguisher powder. It is very irritating to mucous membranes and may cause difficulties with breathing. So along with getting it on their skin, it may have left them with an irritating legacy. Difficult to have any sympathy, as they should not have been there, or done it in the first place. I hope the lessons have been learned. The police took the empty extinguishers to check for fingerprints, so if you were one of the culprits you may receive a knock on your door sometime soon.

All cleaned up, ready for use again
A big thanks to Agnes Ovenstone, Margaret Black, Helen Sutherland, Dorothy Paterson, Christine Jackson, Margaret Barry, Carole Lough, who did sterling work, and our regular cleaner Sheena Andrews who cleaned out the kitchen. If the congregation had not been told of the break in they would have been non the wiser. In fact the place was probably cleaner than it normally is having been washed from top to bottom.
Penicuik: St. Mungo's Parish Church (Church of Scotland). Scottish Charity No SC005838