What kind of fire extinguisher for home shop?
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  1. #1
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    Default What kind of fire extinguisher for home shop?

    Well, my garage remodel is nearing completion. Preparations for my business license are getting in order and one thing my city wants is a fire extinguisher in the garage with the machine.

    So, what the heck kind should I get?

    I'll have a TL-2, small(er) saw, drill press, grinder, and a smallish cleaning tank (but I don't know what type of cleaning fluid I will use).

    And various spray cans of degreasers, WD-40, grease, coolant, etc.

    Any advice? Just class ABC?

    I don't see myself machining combustible materials, therefore, don't think I need a class D.

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    Ti is considered combustible, often overlooked. I'd say say the city and your insurance Co. may be calling the shots, you should probably ask them. Opening a can of worms, I know esp. re. insurance, but it's probably better than having a claim denied if anything should ever happen. Watch what they want for OSDS too.

    JR

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    Here the fire department would answer that question for you. I have a 16. Lb 4-A, 60-B:C, two actually, since my shop is a walkout barn with two floors. They are rechargeable.

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    I like having a CO2 fire extinguisher as a backup in addition to what your jurisdiction requires. If you had an electrical fire the CO2 will leave no residue. The dry chemical type makes a big mess.

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    A water hose and spray nozzle nearby work's great, too!

    I had to put out a grass fire outside the shop started by a side grinder.

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    Err on the side of caution.
    Had a forklift at the shop (adjoining shop to mine, actually). Was over there when and the guys were trying to get the old POS started. Wire to the starter got way hot, caught the 60 years worth of accumulated grease, hydraulic fluid, engine oil and spiderwebs on fire. Turned into a real fire amazingly quickly. I ran over to my place, grabbed two extinguishers, got back just in time for the two other guys to realize they didn't have any way to put the fire out. Emptied both of them to get it out, THEN went around stomping out some cardboard that had caught on fire. Wouldn't have taken much more of a fire to get out my last extinguisher.
    Hate to think what would have happened if I wouldn't have been around that day. The powder was a mess, but a melted building would have been worse.
    Having an extra extinguisher handy doesn't hurt anything. Having one too few would really suck.
    And a water hose.
    My minimum would be one by the machine, one by the exit door.
    Last edited by motojoel1; 08-30-2012 at 10:09 PM. Reason: bad spelling

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    The requirements vary widely between fire districts (and insurance companies). Metal working shops are considered high hazard. If you ask they'll probably say minimum of a 10# (something like 4A-60BC rating) at the building entrance and additional as required such that they aren't more than 50 feet apart.

    Do keep in mind a 10 pound unit will only give about 20 seconds discharge. Since this is a home shop probably two units placed by the overhead door and the entrance door would suffice.

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    I'm sitting here reading this thinking you probably need a class D.

    But then again I've spent my last couple days on magnesium castings. Ones I had done before and used the chips to make a white hot fire in the parking lot.

    So, tried getting a nice little magnesium white hot burn off going here, and no luck. Just shitty smolder.

    This is from about 5 minutes ago. Chips in a coffee filter, cleaned and dried, a light handful, just sitting there smoldering. Pretty disappointing.



    Kind of crappy, got a few white flare ups, basically little sparks.

    So I hear, magnesium fires do not like water, so just a few minutes ago, I take my water bottle out there to that smoldering pile, from about 10 feet away, and squirt some water
    on it.

    Wouldn't you know, you really do need a class D extinguisher. That pile exploded in white hot sparks. Literally exploded, about 8 feet in all directions.

    A bit counter intuitive. Water on a fire, in some cases it apparently doesn't work too well.




    My advice on the extinguishers, you have a local extinguisher place, talk to them, they will certify and charge and blah blah blah. They will know what
    the fire inspector wants to see. Finding somebody that has the ability to deal with a class D, damn near impossible, that's why I don't have one,
    just big buckets of sand.

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    The dry powder ones make a mess it's true.

    Story: last place I worked, they had the researchers go out and test run extinguishers. They used the cut off bottom of a 50
    gallon drum with some kerosene in there, lit up so we could practice.

    First couple of folks got a full size CO2 bottle. They each emptied the bottle and it put out the fire.
    Then they slipped the next person in line a half-used CO2 bottle. So he starts to put out the fire, the
    bottle runs out and it kicks right back up, big as before.

    THEN they pulled out a dry powder extinguisher, smaller than the CO2 ones. They had the next five guys in line
    put out the fire with the same unit, one after the other.

    I was a convert. My shop has the dry powder in it. Kitchen however has a halon unit on the wall.

    Mount the extinguisher near an exit. That way when you get to it, you can make a choice - grab it and use it,
    orjust GET OUT.

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    Yup, dry powder is very effective.

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    I'm a big believer in fire extinguishers, having had to use a couple now and then. Is the shop separate from your home, in an out building? Wooden structure? CO2, is nice, no residue, puts out flammable liquids and safe for electrical. Not very effective on wood. It will put out flames on wood, but doesn't significantly cool the wood so it flames back up when air hits it. ABC, good for most things and cheap. If you are in a wooden structure, I'd recommend a water extinguisher, in addition to an ABC type. be sure to put antifreeze in it if it gets below freezing in the winter.

    Ti and Mg, is really not that big of hazard, if you machine it in a way that forms bigger chips and you practice good housekeeping. I'd keep 5 gallon bucket of dry sand around for those two, be sure to put a lid on it so it won't get wet and keep cats or dust out of it.

    They are cheap enough that I'd get an ABC dry chemical, a water extinguisher, and a big bucket of dry sand. If the fire involves flammable liquids, use the ABC. If it involves wood or paper, water. If electrical, ABC dry chemical. If you can afford it, put a CO2 in the mix. When in doubt, start with the ABC. The mess they make pales in comparison with a full fledged fire that involves the fire department. If you're really concerned about a potential mess, consider a foam extinguisher. It is messy too, but not with powder.

    Put an ABC in you kitchen and garage as well. Read up on how to use all of them that you have. I've been fortunate to have a safety course in fire extinguishers at my work, so I got to see first hand the pros and cons of the various types.

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    I love this site, you guys are all so experienced!

    Thanks for the heads up about calling the insurance and fire department too. I will be doing that for sure.

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    I have a ten pound ABC dry chem in my basement by the exit, plus a water charged beside my woodstove. And in the shop/garage one more ten pound ABC by the exit door.

    Last winter I forgot to close the damper on the woodstove caught the chimmly on fire grabbed the dry chem stuck the nozzle in the chimney clean out pointed up and discharged. put the fire right out.

    Most regulations require the extinguisher be at the exits. If you have more than one exit have an ABC by each one.

    At work we have ABC's all over the place. The regulation here is no matter where you are you should be able to see atleast one extinguisher. I think that is a company policy rather than a code. A shop I worked in had the standard ABC's then by the cnc machinees they had the halon type for use on the machines. ABC will destroy a machines electronics over time. (still better than a burnt down building)

    3 most important rules.

    1. contact your local people and find out what the codes are.

    2. never block access to your extinguisher.

    3. see number 2 again!!!!!

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    I have 3 of the 8lb ABC's, 1 in the shop, 2 by the wood stove. Well worth the $40.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kenh View Post
    Yup, dry powder is very effective.
    Purple K!!

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    The one you will never have to use.

    Purple K (super potassium permanganate) isn't usually available in domestic fire extinguishers, you have to go for a commercial/industrial model $$$$$ but worth it if you ever need one. I have 5 ten pounders (not purple K) in my house and shop. Better safe then sorry.

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    I do not have a copy of the code right handy, but the number, size and type of extinguisher is dictated by the size of the occupance and the type of the occupancy. As an example take my church,type of occupancy is assembly, size of Sanctuary is just around 4000 square feet. It requires one(1) 10 pound ABC or two (2) 5 pounders, one at each end in order to achieve the required extinguisher rating. We did a little overkill and put in two 10 pounders, 1 by the entrance and 1 by the emergency exit behind the alter. For a machine shop of similar size, the code would require two (2) 10 pound ABCs or one 20 pound ABC. Purple K is usually found in cartrige opperated unita and is only has a BC rating (electrical and flamable liquids) so you would need a water extinguisher as well. That is not a bad idea if you do any welding. Little spot flares from slag on dust and missed combustables ( dropped prints and travelers) do well with water plus it is easier to recharge yourself if you have a compessor, Placement of extinguishers is also dictated by code. Travel distance from any point in the occupancy to an extinguisher is not to excede 75 feet. So one at each exit and if needed one on a stand or on a column in the middle of the shop should do it. My personal preferance is for CO2 and pressurized water to get the required rating for inside and ABC for the outside loading dock/parking areas. Pricing for these is as follows: PW $111.00, foam &180.00, CO2 10lb $237.00 15lb $268.00 (most commonly used), ABC 10lb $90.00 andClass D metalx $439.00. If you are looking for the current Halon equivalant that will cost you $375.00 for an 11lb unit. This has the same BC rating as the 10 or 15 lb CO2 units. The current Darly Catolog is the source of the pricing. Hope this helps

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    I know a guy who works for an insurance company and does fire prevention inspections at big companies. He says he always suggests a couple of CO2 fire extinguishers and to use them FIRST as they may very well take care of the fire without the mess.

    Steve

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    One thing that hasn't been said is get at least one BIG ABC unit. One big 20 lb one is better than 2 10 lb, because if the 10 lb doesn't put the fire out it can flare up big while you are running for the second 10 lb unit.

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    Dry powder gets everywhere. Just letting you know.

    I have several extinguishers of the type recommended by the fire inspector. One very large one centrally located and several small ones "strategically" placed. Figure why have to run around with heavy objects in an emergency.

    Wanted to get one of those joke ones that spray fake snakes.

    Also, Kidde extinguishers are made in mexico. The place that does my yearly check says they have a lot of problems. Also the cheaper plastic head ones are non serviceable. So buy quality. Skin grafts are expensive.


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