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Fire Safety In The Shop

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Posted January 16, 2014 - 11:14 PM

I'm still getting settled in my new place out here in Goshen, OH and right now my workshop is in my 2 car garage which is where my tractors and other equipment is stored, along with some things left over from the move we made last year. I keep about 5 to 10 gallons of gas on hand because whenever I can catch a good price I buy at least one 5 gallon can's worth. It occurred to me that a good idea would be to see if I can find one of those flammable liquid storage cabinets somewhere for a reasonable price, say at an industrial sale, so that I can store my gas cans, lube oil and other dangerous liquids so they're protected from any sources of ignition, such as my grinder or chop saw. Does anyone else do this?


I hope everyone has a good ABC fire extinguisher in their shop, because those can handle just about any small fire that might pop up on you. If you've never actually used an extiguisher before, I reccommend you visit your local fire department and ask if they can give you a short course in the proper way to use the extinguisher. I'm not a firefighter myself, but I've had extinguisher training and once had to use one when my wife had a grease fire start in an old electric stove.


I define a small fire as one that is less than 32 sq feet or a 4x8 sheet of plywood. Anything larger is dangerous to take on by yourself unless you have a clear path of escape to the outside. Another good item to keep around the shop is a bag of clay kitty litter or other industrial type absorbent to soak up spills of flammable liquids. I know some people like to use sawdust or newspaper, but that's just adding another fuel source.


One the things I truly dislike about my garage is that the only exits are the two big doors and as soon as I can afford it, I'm going to bring in a metal building to use as a shop for working on equipment and an open sided shed to store my tractors in, so the garage can hold our cars as it was designed to do.


Finally, I once again reccomend a visit to your local fire department to chat with them about your fire safety needs. In addition to what I've already mentioned and what others have said in this forum, it's helpful to know where the nearest hydrant is as well as any local water supply that they can use if need be. Last week a lady lost a $4 million mansion over in Indian Hill, OH because the fire spread too fast and her house was way back a long drive with no hydrant close to the structure. I'm fortunate in one way because my garage sits over a cistern that still holds water, although acess to it in the case of a fire in the garage would be a bit difficult. But at least its there in case it's needed for my house or one of my neighbors.


Well, that's my $1.50 worth. Anyone else want to add something?


Dave :thumbs:

Edited by WH55, January 16, 2014 - 11:15 PM.

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#2 farmer john OFFLINE  

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Posted January 16, 2014 - 11:51 PM

very good idea about the fire cabinet, i dont think you would have to worry to much about oil though, i use an old industrial tool box and keep it outside, the fire extingusher in the shop is a must, my friends thought i was nuts because i have a large extingusher mounted in my bedroom right at my head board , my wife gave me the look too when she came home and saw i had ruined her decor, i simply explained most fires happen at night and i am going to make sure our kids get out one way or the other if something happens, this is where it needs to be, not hidden in a closet or in the shop where i cant get to it, she sees my point now

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#3 lyall OFFLINE  



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Posted January 17, 2014 - 12:33 AM

I live in a small town here in Iowa

after years of the fire extinguisher setting around for long periods of time it is best to have your fire extinguisher checked.

the local fire dept. will check it for free or very little cost 


I lost a house it a fire back in 91


so I have several fire extinguisher around

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#4 zippy1 OFFLINE  

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Posted January 17, 2014 - 12:52 AM

I've got three extinguishers in the shop, and they are checked every six months by a professional. Money is not a factor when it comes to safety.

I would NEVER store gas cans inside a shop, garage that is connected to my house. Not even my separate shop. Years ago a buddy of mine lost his house because of such foolishness. All of my fuel related cans are in an small out building. Hey if that burns down, I'm only out $200 for the building and the price of the containers.

Seen the damage that could have been avoided. Call me paranoid, or anal, but there is no way in heck I'm taking a chance. 

Good topic to bring up Dave, one that's over looked to often.

By the way, we also have extinguishers in the house. :thumbs:

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#5 WNYTractorTinkerer ONLINE  


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Posted January 17, 2014 - 01:00 AM

Mine are stored in an out of the way cabinet on the other side of the barn where nothing flammable will be next to them..  I nearly burned down my old shop working on fuel lines on my old Chevy truck!!  I got it out quickly but next thing I knew I was getting fire extinguishers, a fireproof lock box and so on..  As far as how big a fire gets I won't be sticking around with the tape measure if it gets out of hand!!  '2 & screw' is my mantra-->  If it ain't out after 2 extinguishers push it outta the shop if you can!!  Save yourself is the priority there!  Good topic!!

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#6 Bill 76 ONLINE  

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Posted January 17, 2014 - 03:46 AM

No such thing as having to many fire extinguishers around the shop or the house,I got the huge ones (25#) in the shop.I hung them in differnt areas,because if I have the garage door shut the only way out is the service door and if a fire started in that area I can grab one and try to knock down the fire enought to get myself out of there.Fire cabinet is a must for me,got mine for a song  from a body shop that was closing down and thats where all the spray cans and paint ect.is kept,

And the plus is when I close it up the shop looks neater.Check craigs list for one -around here they pop up about once a week.

Ain't no such thing as a little fire---Just bigger ones.    Nothing can make your heart pound harder.


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#7 Alc ONLINE  



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Posted January 17, 2014 - 06:46 AM

This is a good topic ,  I think it's time for new extingushers for my garage ( are they dated ? ) maybe by the walkthrough  door a large one  ,  and maybe  small ones to mount on my cart that hold the mig welder and chop saw and  weldiing cart

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#8 IamSherwood OFFLINE  


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Posted January 17, 2014 - 08:09 AM

Important topic. Thanks for the reminder.

Here's another reminder. Be careful with those oily rags. They can

spontaneously combust.


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#9 JDBrian OFFLINE  


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Posted January 17, 2014 - 11:22 AM

A neighbor of my sister was working in his garage shop welding an exhaust system on his classic car project. It was winter and the garage door was down. A fire/explosion occurred and he was badly burned. I spoke to him a few months after it happened and he described not being able to get the garage door open, he went to the man door and it was held closed by the pressure of the heated air in the burning garage. He then returned to the garage door and managed to get it open. All this time he was on fire!

   The second door may not open in this situation if it opens inward, which is the normal way to install them.  This is something I had not imagined as an issue, but he nearly died because of it. So, if you are welding, grinding etc keeping the garage door open is a good additional precaution.

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#10 Kurtee OFFLINE  


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Posted January 17, 2014 - 01:03 PM

Fire safety is a big issue. Extinguishers are a good investment. Never thought about one over the bed
tho. This could serve double duty. An intruder could be blasted with the dry chemical. If you have ever had a nose full of that you know that it is not fun. A blast in the face would change my perspective. Back to the fire thing. My fuel is stored in a shed in the back yard and kept away from welding and grinding. One thing that I do when welding is to get out my garden hose before starting the welder.

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#11 HDWildBill OFFLINE  


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Posted January 17, 2014 - 02:07 PM

A good reminder Dave.  The extinguishers in the shop are about due to be checked and it wouldn't be a bad idea to get a couple more for the new shop.  The cabinet is a good idea, I'll have to look into getting one.

#12 WH55 OFFLINE  

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Posted January 18, 2014 - 03:41 PM

Fire safety is a big issue. Extinguishers are a good investment. Never thought about one over the bed
tho. This could serve double duty. An intruder could be blasted with the dry chemical. If you have ever had a nose full of that you know that it is not fun. A blast in the face would change my perspective. Back to the fire thing. My fuel is stored in a shed in the back yard and kept away from welding and grinding. One thing that I do when welding is to get out my garden hose before starting the welder.


You are right about the dry chemical stuff, Kurtee, I have COPD and when I used that one on the stove fire it took me several hours to get it out of my system. And I must confess I never even thought of storing the gas outside. The kind of cabinet I'm talking about could just sit outside just as easily as in the garage. You wouldn't even need a building for it if you didn't want to build one. The garden hose is a good idea when welding or flame cutting and another thing you can use is a garden sprayer with water in it. I used to scrap out used railroad maitnenance equipment back in 2002-03 after I was laid off and would use on of those to put out grass fires caused by the molten metal that hit the ground. I also kept a large dry chemical fire extinguisher on my truck when I was doing that, in case some hydraulic fluid or fuel trapped in the plumbing were to catch on fire. I also had a fireproof welding blanket with me to protect anything that I didn't want damaged. 


The best piece of safety gear any of us has is our brain and it is important to think everything through before you start any sort of project. I've had several occasions when I was in a hurry and nearly injured myself because I didn't stop and think first. I think most accidents are caused by someone getting in a hurry and not taking the time to think about what they are doing. These days I'm only good for about 15 minutes worth of physical exertion and have to stop and catch my breath. That forces me to break down jobs into steps and decide how I'm going to proceed. Haste makes waste is really true. :smilewink:



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#13 OldBuzzard ONLINE  



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Posted January 18, 2014 - 04:25 PM

Safety is one reason I've quit using those plastic cans and now use these:



I have a Yellow one for my Diesel fuel and a Red one for gas.


Not only are they safer for storage, but they are a heck of a lot more user friendly when it comes time to fill a tank.

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#14 Sawdust OFFLINE  

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Posted January 18, 2014 - 07:31 PM

I keep one in my work truck as well. When I do plumbing I sit it near by just in case. I've never had to use it for myself but twice for others on the road. Thanks for the topic...a good one.