All Replies on Fire extinguishers

  • Advertise with us
View richgreer's profile

Fire extinguishers

by richgreer
posted 04-19-2010 05:48 PM

« prev 1 2
84 replies

84 replies so far

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3652 days

#51 posted 04-20-2010 06:09 AM

Thanks for the reminder Rich. On my list.I have fire alarms everywhere, including my shop and have even performed fire drills with the kids. Mostly familiarizing them with the closest exits and the safest spots to exit if trapped upstairs. I have added the purchase to my outlook calendar.

Thanks so much for the post!


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View dmorrison's profile


151 posts in 3806 days

#52 posted 04-20-2010 07:07 AM

Have quite a few extinguishers in the house.
The shop has a Halon extinguisher at the door next to the flashlights.
Each car has a halon extinguisher.
One under the kitchen sink, away from the cook top and oven.
Bolted next to the floor at each bedroom door, just inside, we have a dry chemical extinguisher.
Also just inside each attic door is a large dry chemical extinguisher. Gas HVAC units are inside the attic in Texas.

Friend had a lightening strike on the HVAC exhaust stack and it blew the gas line off the HVAC which started a fire. He had an extinguisher in his attic. Which saved his house. We also keep a wrench on the gas valve all the time to shut it off. Cheap Harbor Freight wrench, but it’s always there.

We use and practice with Halon extinguishers in our aircraft training, they are oxygen depleting and can be dangerous in a confined space, but in an aircraft, fire is more dangerous. So I prefer Halon extinguishers.


View Toolz's profile


1004 posts in 4286 days

#53 posted 04-20-2010 12:47 PM

One in the shop, one in the kitchen, and one in the basement utility room

-- Larry "Work like a Captain but Play like a Pirate!"

View quartrsawn's profile


146 posts in 3757 days

#54 posted 04-20-2010 04:10 PM

Iodine…remember… Mecurichrome….? I think it was purple and by todays standards I’m sure its no good for you.

-- Nat - West Sayville,L.I., NY

View SnowyRiver's profile


51458 posts in 4024 days

#55 posted 04-20-2010 04:33 PM

Oh yeah…I remember both. Iodine used to really sting on an open wound, but Mecurichrome didnt so thats what my parents used to use.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Viking's profile


881 posts in 3739 days

#56 posted 04-20-2010 06:14 PM


Halon is being replaced by non-oxegen depleting systems like 3M Novec 1230 which is much safer in manned spaces. I am surprised that the aircraft manufactures have caught on to this.

Good Luck!

-- Rick Gustafson - Lost Creek Ranch - Colorado County, Texas

View Viking's profile


881 posts in 3739 days

#57 posted 04-20-2010 06:22 PM


Think it was the mecurichrome that stung like hell on a cut or bad abrasion. I remember the sting and we did not have iodine.

-- Rick Gustafson - Lost Creek Ranch - Colorado County, Texas

View SnowyRiver's profile


51458 posts in 4024 days

#58 posted 04-20-2010 06:28 PM

Rick…no, it was the iodine that stung…I never thought mecurichrome was doing anything but it stained your skin so you couldnt see what the wound was doing. The Iodine stung because Tinture of Iodine was disolved in a small amount of alcohol which actually caused the stinging.

Oh well, back to fire extinguishers.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3718 days

#59 posted 04-20-2010 07:03 PM

I haven’t read every post, but … on the list of “things to think about ….”

If we’re LUCKY, none of this will ever matter.

But … since all of this stuff is about when we’re REALLY UNLUCKY ….

Does everybody’s everybody (ie, family, neighbors, friends, etc) KNOW EXACTLY where these extinguishers are ???

Mine is on a shear wall, eight feet from the bottom of the stairs TO my shop. Mounted ON that shear (/wing) wall is that big billboard that says “FIRE EXTINGUISHER” With an arrow pointing down, directly at the bottle.

Just in case … I’m not in a position to deal with the situation ….

-- -- Neil

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4268 posts in 3708 days

#60 posted 04-20-2010 08:51 PM

Mercurichrome – reddish as I recall, having had it used on me multiple times. Not used any more.

Tincture of Iodine – ‘tincture’ means an alcohol solution or extract…....iodine is still used in various strengths, for various purposes, mostly not with alcohol however.

Gentian Violet – the purple stuff, antifungal, antibacterial. Not used much anymore, but still has occasional application. Really messy. Check out the ….........
Wikipedia Article

Silver Nitrate – good cautery agent for localized superficial bleeding, and as a treatment for excess granulation tissue. I use it for both of these purposes regularly. Usually available on the end of a long wooden stick, like a very long match stick. I have a box of this in every exam room.

When silver nitrate was used in a solution for treatment of burns it was a real mess, burn patient rooms were dedicated just for burn patients, partly because everything turned black eventually, meaning the walls, floors, etc. I remember those rooms when I was in training. Then it became available in a cream which was much better, and didn’t stain everything.

.........just a little background to confirm and enhance the previous comments…...............

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6709 posts in 3738 days

#61 posted 04-20-2010 09:35 PM

Greetings guys….. Sorry….. I didn’t mean to get a thread started on monkey blood. I figured some of you older fellows would remember. It’s all we had when we were kids back then. Anyway…. sorry, Rich. Didn’t mean to step on your post.

Ok….......... back to the fire putter-outters… Let’s hope none of us ever has to use one… the shop.

-- " Old age will sneak up on you too quickly, so stay as active as you can".

View Uncle_Salty's profile


183 posts in 3617 days

#62 posted 04-20-2010 10:07 PM

I teach school and I cover fire classification, fire safety, fire extinguisher type and usage in all of my classes. In addition, we discuss non traditional fire extinguishing methods with household products.

A fire extinguisher on each floor at home and one in the garage. Also one in my truck.

Not paranoid… just “prepareanoid.”

View Chris 's profile


1880 posts in 4535 days

#63 posted 04-20-2010 10:12 PM

I will stress to everyone again the importance of having extinguishers and fire/smoke detectors not to mention testing all of them and replacing when needed. If any of you have ever gone through or known someone that has gone through loosing their home in this way it can be very devastating to the family not to mention costly. A little knowledge and prevention can go a long way.

If you have the ability to do so have the fire alarm monitored as well as a security system please do so. I lost my home to arson… If I would of had both then the outcome may have been completely different.

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View dustyal's profile


1311 posts in 4019 days

#64 posted 04-21-2010 01:42 AM

... yes to all of the above, plus one on the boat with another first aid kit.

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

View rtree's profile


41 posts in 3511 days

#65 posted 04-21-2010 02:46 AM

I’m glad to see so many posts that indicate they have an FE. I had the interesting experience of having to use one at work about two years ago. We were cutting metal and about an hour later I went out into the shop and we had smoke. Our shop is about 5000SF so finding the source of the smoke wasn’t easy. We quickly determined that it was under a pallet in some sawdust. Evidently some hot metal had shot under the pallet and it took a while to get going. Just remember fires don’t always just burst out. Sometimes it takes a while. We just moved the pallet with the forklift and wet the area down. We didn’t need an extinguisher, but one of our over excited guys emptied one any way. We took the sawdust outside and really wet it down good. Now we do a walk through every hour or so even if no one is working out there. By the way. it took about two hours to clean up the powder. Thanks for bringing up the subject.

-- RT --- The older I get, the smarter my father gets. I should have paid more attention when I was younger.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4268 posts in 3708 days

#66 posted 04-21-2010 04:57 AM

I have a monitored fire alarm, CO monitor, and security system. But it is not gonna happen in the average household for financial reasons. But just having the battery operated alarms, they are pretty cheap, and the fire extinguishers, which are also pretty cheap, is a major step and will save lives and property. Most of my life I just lived with what everybody else has. Never really had to use it, fortunately.

Perhaps the most important thing is understanding what causes fires. There has to be a knowledgeable fireman on LJ’s who could probably speak up and really educate us. I watch the linseed products and the volatiles real close. But this is not something that I feel real competent about.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View PocketHole69's profile


79 posts in 3581 days

#67 posted 04-22-2010 07:09 PM

Ok Jim. I’m a firefighter and the head of the emergency response team for a company that specializes in industrial fire protection. Before switching to the industrial side I worked several years as a municipal firefighter.

First of all, the original posters assumption that the risk of fire in a wood shop is low is completely wrong. There are a number of hazards in the wood shop that are unique and in many ways more dangerous than other sources of fire in the home such as kitchens and garages (the two top problem areas in most homes).

In no particular order, these are:

1. Combustible Dust

Wood boards / chunks / pieces just burn and are easily controlled with extinguishers, or in a worst case scenario easy to get away from (run). In contrast, combustible dust in an unconfined area flashes and ignites nearby flammable surfaces, potentially setting fire to large portions (or all) of your shop. Combustible dust in confined areas (such as small rooms, dust collectors, paint booths, and tool enclosures) explodes.

Combustible dust explosions kill people. They are a top safety concern of OSHA with recent high-profile incidents such as the sugar plant explosion in Georgia. It doesn’t take much dust to do it either- as little as 1 pound floating around your shop in the air can provide the perfect fuel-to-air ratio for an explosion. The fact that many shops are in basements, utility rooms, and garages where there are ignition sources such as water heaters and furnaces nearby, as well as unshielded tools and frayed cords arcing is the perfect recipe for disaster.

Sources of combustible dust in the wood shop include sawdust, dust collectors, metal dust if you’re in to metal working, and lint / paper products.

The best defense against combustible dust is good housekeeping. Clean up after yourself and don’t let dust accumulate. Try to do your woodworking away from possible sources of ignition and open flame such as pilot lights.

Many will argue for dust collection in the shop, and a well implemented dust collection system can minimize the risk. However, dust collectors pose special hazards of their own and dust collector explosions can occur when a burning bit of sawdust gets introduced to a huge bag of floating dust inside the collector.

Most dust collector fires in industrial settings get out of hand when the dust collector ignites and explodes, and then because of bad housekeeping all the dust outside the collector, shaken up and sent airborne by the dust collector popping, gets ignited by the dust collector explosion. This one-two punch levels buildings, as the video linked below will show:

Combustible Dust: An Insidious Hazard
(Youtube, 30 minutes long. Probably more than you ever wanted to know about dust)

2. Paint / Stain spray in the air and buildup on surfaces

If you want to make something really damn hard to put out when it catches on fire, put about 10 coats of old paint or poly on it. Also spray painting creates the same hazards as combustible dust when in the air.

Use a paint booth or spray outside. Clean up your mess.

3. Metalworking

Metalworking creates metal shavings and dust. Metal shavings and dust burn when they get hot, and metal working is known to create heat.

If you have a metal fire you can’t put it out with a common Class ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher. They burn ridiculously hot so you might not even be able to approach them to drag whatever is burning out of your shop. Spraying water on metals fires usually causes an explosion because they burn so hot that they catalyze the water in to Hydrogen and Oxygen (a flammable gas and an oxidizer to accelerate combustion), causing a violent ignition.

If you work on metal with any regularity and don’t have a Class D fire extinguisher handy you’re asking for your house to be burnt down. Most municipal fire departments, and especially rural volunteer departments, are ill-equipped to handle a metal fire. At the very least you need to have a bucket of sand nearby so you can cover up and slow the combustion process and try to prevent radiant heat ignition of the rest of your shop until the fire department arrives.

4. Oily rags

Oily rags that contain oil, finishes, paint, etc. go through a process of biological and chemical decomposition that creates heat. This decomposition occurs everywhere, even in rags sitting on your workbench exposed. This is a tiny amount of heat- it normally just dissipates in the air and is not even noticed. The problem comes when they are stored in a closed container with other oily rags- the heat can’t escape. When the heat can’t escape it in turn speeds up decomposition, which in turn creates more heat, which in turn speeds up decomposition, etc. until the rags reach the auto-ignition temperature of the rags or chemicals they contain, causing them to spontaneously ignite.

The scary thing about this is you don’t have to be in your shop for it to happen- you can do your finishing, go to bed or work, and then 8 hours later while you’re sound asleep the rags can reach ignition temperature and light your house on fire. It might take days for rags to reach ignition temperature, and having your house burn down while you’re at work really sucks from what I’ve heard.

At the minimum you should store oily rags separate from other waste and remove them from your house when you’re done. Better is a metal can with a tight fitting lid that can contain a fire and starve any that might start of oxygen. Best is a OSHA approved container that is rated for storing oily rags- they really aren’t that expensive when you think about what is at risk (your home and your family)

5. Location

Where a fire starts in your home has a lot to do with if the fire department is going to be able to save your house and everything you own.

The two absolute worst places for a fire to start? The basement and the garage.

Where are many home workshops located? The basement and the garage.

When a fire starts in the basement you have about a 50/50 chance of losing your home, and even more so if your basement is below grade. Basement fires are hard to approach- heat rises so a firefighting going down a staircase to the basement is going to get cooked and may not be able to make it. Basement fires compromise the floor structure of the first level of your home, making firefighter entry in to your house a dangerous proposition. Some fire departments won’t even enter a home when there is a basement fire burning- they don’t want to see their men step on a soft spot in the floor and fall through in to an inferno.

Garage fires are dangerous for obvious reasons- people store flammable stuff in garages: paint, gas, chemicals, cars full of gas, etc. If garage fires are not quickly controlled they can quickly burn out of control, and with most garages attached to houses in the US the rest of the house is just one minimum code requirement wall away.

What can you do to minimize risk?

Those are the major threats. Here is what you can do to minimize the risk:

1. Have a fire extinguisher appropriate to the materials in your shop

You should have, as a minimum, a 5 lb. Class ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher in your shop. You should have one in the garage and kitchen too.

If you are working with metals, you should have some Class D extinguishing agent nearby.

If anyone is wondering what the fire classes are, they are:

Class A: Ordinary Combustibles (wood, paper, etc.)
Class B: Liquid Fuel Fires (paint, stain, gas, etc.)
Class C: Energized Electrical Fires (power tools, wiring shorts, etc.)
Class D: Metals Fires

Read up more on Fire Classes

2. Clean up after yourself

90% of workshop related fire threats can be negated by cleaning up after yourself. A dirty shop is not just messy, it’s unsafe. Your momma was right when she told you to clean your room.

Regularly clean up dust after working with wood products. Clean up spray booths and ventilate after spraying finishes. Take out your trash, and store oily rags properly.

3. Look around and realize what your hazards are

Do you have a pilot light nearby that could light dust next time you’re sanding? Do you have frayed cords or overloaded outlets that can arc and start a fire? Do you have exposed electrical wiring? Do you have a pile of oily rags in the corner by your wood pile?

What can you do to minimize the risk to your home and family? Everyone who’s house burnt down never thought it could happen to them, but one day everything they owned, their pictures, their memories, their pets, and sometimes even their family members were gone. Nearly every house fire I’ve been to could have been prevented. You owe it to yourself and your family to take a minute and minimize the risk of fire.

4. Install a fire alarm

Really, this is a no-brainer. You should have a fire alarm in your shop, in your kitchen, in your garage if different from your shop, and outside every bedroom on every story of your home. Central monitoring is great if you can afford it, but at the very least get one that will go off and wake you and your family up if there is a fire.

-- Jason, Atlanta, GA

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3718 days

#68 posted 04-22-2010 07:18 PM


[standing ovation, and big round of applause]

As a former volunteer, I trained in much of what you wrote, but … couldn’t have come up with it, at gunpoint.

Thank you SO MUCH—both for what you DO, and for what you DID.

I wish we had “sticky” threads on this forum…..

-- -- Neil

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3527 days

#69 posted 04-22-2010 07:59 PM

I have a fire extinguisher I keep in the shop. I also check the charge every 3 months along with the routine turning upside down and tapping with a rubber mallet to keep the powder from getting compacted. I also have a first aid kit, flashlight, and phone in the shop. Now for the next question how many have smoke and co2 detectors as well in their shop.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4268 posts in 3708 days

#70 posted 04-22-2010 08:35 PM

I second all of Neil’s comments. Great run down on what to look for. I am going to print this up (at work right now) and systematically go down the list. Think I could have better fire extinguishers, and better ways of handling oily rags. Right now I put them in an open bag and take them outside for a few days. A little messy, but safe, I guess. Think I will get a OSHA approved rag container.

This is just what I wanted to hear.

Thanks again…......


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View BreakingBoardom's profile


615 posts in 3625 days

#71 posted 04-22-2010 09:06 PM

PocketHole69, thanks for all the info. Isn’t there also a K-Type extinguisher for grease fires? Grease fires are a common type of kitchen fire and are to be handled differently too, correct?

-- Matt -

View David "Lucky Dawg" Brown's profile

David "Lucky Dawg" Brown

440 posts in 3536 days

#72 posted 04-22-2010 09:11 PM

The extungiusher is in my truck right outside the door!

-- dumpster diver delux

View PocketHole69's profile


79 posts in 3581 days

#73 posted 04-22-2010 09:24 PM

BreakingBoardom- Yes, there is a K extinguisher for kitchen fires involving cooking oils and fats. These are usually found in restaurants and the like and are part of huge fire hood systems over grills, etc.

Generally for the quantities involved in the average residential kitchen a common ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher is more than enough though. You just want to make sure you’re not using a Class AB extinguisher, which is usually water with some wetting agent added. Water + grease fires = bad juju.

Also, for most kitchen grease fires you can just put the pot lid on and avoid messing up your whole kitchen with a chemical fire extinguisher :)

-- Jason, Atlanta, GA

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3835 days

#74 posted 04-22-2010 09:29 PM

Is there an alternative to the mess of dry chemical? Sure, it beats the alternative, but it’s still a mess. Are CO2s practical for the homeowner?

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View PocketHole69's profile


79 posts in 3581 days

#75 posted 04-22-2010 09:37 PM


CO2 Fire extinguishers are only rated for Class B (liquid) and Class C (electrical) fires.

You really need something that will work on Class A (ordinary combustible solids like wood) for a wood shop.

They work by displacing oxygen, so you’d need a pretty large dump system to displace enough oxygen in a wood shop to put out a Class A fire. With that comes health concerns like suffocating yourself- that’s why most CO2 dump systems in industrial settings are required to have breathing apparatus posted in the displacement zone, audible and visual alarms, electronic countdown timers etc.

-- Jason, Atlanta, GA

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3618 days

#76 posted 04-22-2010 09:50 PM

I have to thank PocketHole for the very valuable addition he has made on this subject. Like Jim, I am going to go right down the list and make sure I am doing everything I can to minimize fire risk.

I’d like for people who have already commented on this topic and moved on to come back and read what PocketHole wrote. Perhaps a better idea is for PocketHole to start another topic with what he has written here. It would get more exposure that way.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3659 days

#77 posted 04-22-2010 10:47 PM

thank´s a lot Pockethole to explain it that way
I was knowing of dust explosions but didn´t connect it
with woodshops maybee becourse I nearly never use sandpaper
becourse of you I just favorated this blog so I can find it
later and print it out when I´m back where my printer is

be safe out there and take care all of you


View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4268 posts in 3708 days

#78 posted 04-23-2010 03:54 PM


Perhaps in the back of my brain I knew a few things about combustible dust, but other than exploding grain elevators, I never linked the explosiveness with accidents.

Some interesting things I discovered when I was in grade school and junior high, when I was interested in explosives, mostly as a way to drive amateur rockets, which I never got into very far, mostly because I didn’t have the money. I remember creating a flour dust explosion as part of a chemistry set experiement, although I probably gleaned it from the local library where I spent a considerable percentage of my young life. Can’t remember where I got the formula for gun powder, it wasn’t the chemistry set, but I read so many nonfiction books when I was young, that it had to be the library.

I also found out that you could substitute sugar for charcoal, while making gunpowder. Gunpowder made with sugar makes a pretty crude rocket fuel.

I also remember that the real amateur rockets, the ones that went many thousands of feet into the air were powered by rocket fuel with powdered aluminum as a major constituent.

That always struck me as strange, and the fact that powdered metal could explode never became a logical conclusion in my brain.

There is a disconnect in the average persons brain between dust and explosions, including mine. But by watching that video on combustible dust, I think I now have a permanent connection.

Today when I go to Lowes or HD for some MDF and other items, better fire extinguishers, and a way to temporarily store oily rags and paper is on the top of the list.

......and remember, your DC system does a pretty good job at vacuuming. I have two permanent vacuum house placements in my system, as well as a floor sweep. I routinely clean up the shop and the dust on things more than once a day, and sometimes multple times.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3718 days

#79 posted 04-23-2010 05:09 PM

Incidentally, for the oily rag thing….

1) When I finished … finishing … my last couple of pieces … I simply laid ALL the rags either FLAT out (no folds, no wrinkles) on the concrete shop floor or hung them over the stringers on my metal shop tool bases.

Then, I turned a shop fan on AND one of those in-the-window exhaust fans. I left them like that for about 48hrs.

At some point, I’ll launder them. Meanwhile, they are generally considered safe.

2) Another option: Take a standard 5-gallon bucket. Fill it halfway with water. Pour in a cup or two of laundry detergent. Mix thoroughly.

Throw oily rags in there. Make sure they’re submerged. Shake the bucket thoroughly, and KEEP the lid tightly closed.

Cleans them pretty well, too!

-- -- Neil

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4268 posts in 3708 days

#80 posted 04-23-2010 05:44 PM

Never thought of the can full of water. I too hang them up to dry, and I never stuff them together, unless I have them in a bag or can outsider of the house. It is just a pain to have that stuff hanging all over, so I thought I would go the approved route and get an OSHA can. My usual problem is the WATCO and such and the fact you wipe down the object after a coat. Rags that are worth reusing get the hung out to dry routine.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View PocketHole69's profile


79 posts in 3581 days

#81 posted 04-23-2010 10:32 PM

For what it’s worth, I keep all my flammable liquids and my oily rag container outside of my house in a small metal shed in the backyard. Flammable liquid storage cabinets are EXPENSIVE and I just can’t afford one right now so the best thing I could do was keep them outside of my living area where if there ever was a problem it would burn down a $500 shed, not a $150,000 house :)

I don’t have a dust collector yet, but when I’m done using my shop vac for dust collection and cleanup I dump it in the compost area outside too.

-- Jason, Atlanta, GA

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4268 posts in 3708 days

#82 posted 04-24-2010 01:34 AM

The only thing I can say about anything remotely flammable, is that they are all in metal cans. Otherwise, Alaska doesn’t present good options for outdoor storage. So I close everything up tight immediately after pouring, and tend to use small separate containers for brushing on with just the amount I am going to use, or less.

Picked up another fire extinguisher today, didn’t find a good oily rag can yet.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4429 days

#83 posted 04-26-2010 05:30 AM


-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View CL810's profile


3971 posts in 3532 days

#84 posted 05-02-2010 04:59 AM

Those of you who launder your rags please appreciate that your rags will have some level of contaminant residue on them after laundering. Take special care in drying the rags AND make sure the rags are COOLED DOWN, folded and put away properly.

I have a commercial laundry business and know dozens of laundries that have experienced fires because towels with some level of grease or oil contaminants were improperly cooled down, folded, and put away.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

« prev 1 2
84 replies

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics