Reply by Ted Pagels

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Posted on Fire extinguishers in the shop

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Ted Pagels

63 posts in 3517 days

#1 posted 05-14-2010 12:24 AM


I’m a retired fire chief currently in the business of fire origin and cause investigations and woodworking as time permits.

Steven H above is very correct on most points he expressed. But, I would rather see a smoke detector installed in the shop (and on each level of the home) as opposed to fire alarms (there’s a BIG difference in the two). The smoke detector will sound sooner in a fire situation than a fire alarm device. Smoke kills most people in fire situations before the flames ever reach them if at all. I’ve carried dead people out of homes from very minor fires that smouldered without flames.

Recently I had a rash of fires caused by stain rags lying around left after work is completed. Many stains with linseed oil in them are capable of self-ignition under the right conditions indoors or out. Stain rags, pads or brushes should be disposed of in a pail of water outdoors.

READ THE LABELS!! Never use combustible or flammable (again a BIG difference in the two) liquids indoors for any reason the fumes normally are heavier than air, can and will be ignited by pilots on gas appliances or electrical sparks from others. Never allow projects coated with flammable or combustible finishes (paints, varnishes)to cure (dry) indoors without proper ventilation. If you have a fire because of this you did not have proper ventialtion.

Clever shop people could tap off their domestic water supply piping (with proper back flow prevention device) and install a sprinkler system which are heat activated. When heat reaches a sprinkler head it opens and sprays water on a fire. All sprinkler heads do not open at the same time like you see in the movies unless the HEAT reaches them all. Smoke does not set them off HEAT. The sprinkler heads disperse much less water sooner than a fire hose too many minutes later when the FD arrives as the fire keeps growing and growing and growing…....

I would like to meet you all someday as a fellow woodworker not as your insurance companies fire investigator.

-- Ted Pagels, Green Bay, WI

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