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Fire extinguishers

Best protection for workshop

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David P Williams15/05/2017 15:45:20
902 forum posts
309 photos

My workshop is a converted single garage attached to the house. Like most of your workshops I suspect, it contains models, wood and plastic materials, fuel, paint, thinners, machinery, soldering and battery charging areas, etc.

I have realised that some form of fire protection would be a good idea, but am a bit baffled by the different types of extinguisher available. Anyone out there with the expertise to make sensible recommendations please?

Braddock, VC15/05/2017 15:59:44
1647 forum posts
82 photos

Dry powder, may be mucky but you can aim it at all sorts of fires and you won't be electrocuted if there's electrical power in the way neither will you be asphyxiated like some other extinguishers.

Rather than servicing them they are cheap enough to replace when they reach their sell by date.

The best advice too offer, from a personal safety viewpoint, if it's anything more than a bin fire shut the door pdq (from the outside, timothy)and 999 it. Make sure your home insurance is up to date and relevant.

Edited By Braddock, VC on 15/05/2017 16:00:57

Martin Harris15/05/2017 16:44:09
9262 forum posts
245 photos

If you do use an extinguisher, stand between the exit and the fire - you don't want to blow the fire towards your escape route!

Stuart Z15/05/2017 16:53:54
390 forum posts

I recently updated my dry powder extinguisher for a new one as I saw the original was some years out of date. Interestingly I still haven't found out where you dispose of old extinguishers as the local council won't let me dispose of it in their tip and told me to take it to the Fire station. The people at the fire station told me that was wrong and I have to send it back to the manufacturer - I can't locate where that might be but seems an awful phaff!

Still, I agree with Braddock, VC, anything big is not going to be stopped by a few seconds burst from a typical household extinguisher.


Dave Hopkin15/05/2017 16:55:04
3672 forum posts
294 photos

The best advise would be to contact the Fire Prevention Officer at your local Fire & Rescue station - s/he will do an professional assessment and tell you what you actually need

David P Williams15/05/2017 17:30:09
902 forum posts
309 photos

Yes Dave I realise that would be the proper route to take. I guess I was just wondering what the rest of you do - do you do anything? Do you have extinguishers or just hope ll will be OK as I have done up to now.

I looked at the dry powder extinguishers as they seem to cover most of the fire classes we have in our workshops, but they make a heck of a mess and British Standards apparently does not approve them for indoor use.

These new water mist extinguisers look like the best bet, although they are a fair bit more expensive.

Denis Watkins15/05/2017 17:51:45
4327 forum posts
104 photos

For me Dave, like most I think, in the event of a fire I prefer to have something useful to make an initial effort

So I bought a number of one shot, dry powder, electrical/ petrol etc fire extinguishers, with one in the workshop, one in the car, for down at the field

And the rest delt out to my close family for their cars

You need something in the event of fire prevention, then otherwise, if you cannot win quickly, get out !

Phil 915/05/2017 18:41:09
4287 forum posts
251 photos
Posted by Dave Hopkin on 15/05/2017 16:55:04:

The best advise would be to contact the Fire Prevention Officer at your local Fire & Rescue station - s/he will do an professional assessment and tell you what you actually need

this seems the best advice. there maybe steps you can take to prevent a fire in the first place. An extinguisher is only any good after a fire has started and you are there to use it. If you are in the workshop and you are not doing anything stupid a fire is not that likely to happen and if a small fire did start you should be able to deal with it even without an extinguisher, As already stated If it is so big you cant deal with it get out and dial 999

a fire blanket may also be useful but om no expert

Edited By Phil 9 on 15/05/2017 18:42:59

onetenor15/05/2017 19:26:26
1901 forum posts

CLEAN UP Brush Vac and damp cloth as much dust as you possibly can for starters. This should reduce any chance of a fire spreading should on start. If one does get out and call the brigade out. This advice was given to me by our fire protection officer. Don't try and fight it as the toxic fumes can see you off in seconds.If you have access to a good hose play the water on things from the outside but at as safe a distance as you can.unless there are things that could explode inside.

David P Williams15/05/2017 19:40:13
902 forum posts
309 photos

All good advice I guess, but I'm with Denis - I'd rather have something that I can have at least an initial go with. I did work for an extinguisher manufacturer about 45 years ago, and did the tests and demonstrations. Favourite at that time was BCF - now banned.

Ther is no fully manned fire station within 30 miles of where I live, all the local ones are volunteer. The response time from the nearest one would be at least 25 mins on a good day and probably longer. The house will be gone by then.

So yes, I take sensible precautions to prevent a fire in the first place, but stuff happens doesn't it.

Don Fry15/05/2017 21:00:40
4557 forum posts
54 photos

My experience of small dry foam units are they are too small. I am talking about the things about a foot long and 4 inches in diameter. You spay on the base of the fire, run out of extinguisher, and the fire reignites.

ok for a bin on fire, or once when I set a quarter scale triplane I was building alight. But a fire needs water to cool it. And a bit of knowledge on what to spray water on. Can't help subscribing to the take steps option. In the opposite direction.

Martin Harris15/05/2017 21:54:22
9262 forum posts
245 photos

Beware of fires in bins - fire an extinguisher into a bin full of flammable material and you'll blast flaming fragments all over the workshop. I suspect a fire blanket would be the better option but I only did basic fire training.

Braddock, VC15/05/2017 21:57:10
1647 forum posts
82 photos

Another way to tackle the fire is to have your highly flammables kept out of the area. This is what I did when the council sent freebie wheely bins for recycling. My old plastic dustbin sits outside with several flammable tins and bottles of fuel, thinners paint etc, the dustbin is definitely waterproof as the tins have not corroded and some of them have been out there for at least 4 years. Also have an isolation switch near the way out so electrics can be switched off.

Rodents love electrical cable insulation and electrics are far and away the biggest fire source when you're not in the workshop. It doesn't help, though, if you share the space with the freezer....

Incidentally don't go spraying water all over the show, water and electrics = dead firefighter.

I take the point that donald makes but if the fire is beyond the capabilities of such a small extinguisher, you're in the poo already. If the brigade is 25 mins away the quicker you call them out the better.

I said right at the start dry powder extinguishers are messy, but they aren't in the same league as even a smallish fire.

I used to be a ship's engineer and have been involved with extinguishing major fires, two things stick in my mind, there is ALWAYS some neglect involved in the cause and the second is how very hot it gets and very quickly, too.

robert chamberlain27/12/2018 05:06:12
139 forum posts

I have always been told that theses dry powder types had an anti- coagulant agent mixed in to prevent them from turning into a solid cake. Don't know if this is true or not but tomorrow I am going out side to blow a 10 year old one to find out for sure. It is a slow day and I am retired ,always looking for the "fun factor" in life. In fact, I have always used a hard rubber mallet to bang on them from time to time to try to break em up. Got the mallet years ago to install hub caps securely on my car. I'll try discharging that on too. Time will tell, -------------Bob

Jason Channing27/12/2018 05:15:42
148 forum posts

The coagulant is typically 0.5% cabosil. A very large proportion of the remainder is Sodium Bicarbonate which is messy but not harmful.If you visit certain places BCF is still available,

Piers Bowlan27/12/2018 07:23:30
2118 forum posts
53 photos

Something sometimes overlooked in a garage is a smoke alarm. Cheap as chips and if it gives you even a couple of minutes warning (whilst you popped into the kitchen to make a brew) then that might be the difference between minor damage and a serious fire.

Chris Walby27/12/2018 07:59:08
1196 forum posts
297 photos

Can we take a step back and just ask a couple pertinent questions.

Number one priority is detecting if there is a fire, if you are in the shed then you will probably know, but the area is left unmanned for very long periods - Personal safety is always the most important factor. So a smoke/heat detector is a very good idea. Very few people die being burnt to death as opposed those that are harmed by the smoke.

Assuming you are in the shed/garage and you notice something is on fire, time is of the essence. Your fire extinguisher should be positioned next to the door (exit route) that way you can decide if you are going leave or try and tackle the fire. At least you still have your exit route available.

IMHO fire extinguisher choice is based to two factors, firstly how good it is at putting the fire out and secondly the extent of the clean up!

Foam - will work well with the wood etc products, covers and cools, minor issue with electrical equipment but if you have an RCD better than watching your shed burn down!

Power - works with almost all types of combustible materials, but the power is not too healthy in a confined space and makes a huge mess

CO2 - Don't bother it will blow the combusting materials everywhere and just make things worse!

BCF - I you can get it is my preferred choice as it works on most types of combustible material + safe on electrical equipment. Creates very little mess although the down side is its ozone depleting and can turn toxic as part of the extinguishing process. Good news you don't need as much for it to be effective

Bottom line

  • Make sure you can get out and raise the alarm
  • Smoke/heat detector
  • Time is of the essence

I would say you have 60 seconds to put it out or leave, anything longer and the fire would not be put out with any fire extinguisher.

Assuming the worse, you could really help the fire brigade with a list of combustible materials. Things like fuel, thinners and compressed gasses (LPG/blow lamp cylinders) can produce very unwelcome effects for the fire fighters who will be doing their best in very hazardous circumstances.

Paul Marsh27/12/2018 08:13:31
3963 forum posts
1190 photos

I just bought another one last week. Strangely, WHitchurch Models had them for sale, so I bought one. HAve one each in the kitchen, Caravan, each shed and the bedroom workshop.

Brian Cooper27/12/2018 08:38:44
536 forum posts
26 photos

Spinning the clock back about 30 years, I had the misfortune to have a car fire in a garage which was attached to my house.

I had parked the car and had got out but was tinkering around with something unrelated to the car before going indoors. .After a minute or two, I became aware of a burning smell and when I looked at the car, the interior was slowly filling with smoke. . I was curious. . I had a fire extinguisher on the wall, so I grabbed it and went to investigate... As soon as I opened the car's door, the in-coming (new) air turned the smoke into flames......... and it was frightening how quickly it took hold.

Realising that my puny fire extinguisher was completely out-classed for the task facing it, I left immediately, told the family to get out of the house, and called the Fire Brigade. They were on scene very quickly and soon had the fire under control but the car and the garage were completely destroyed.

My advise on detecting a fire would be to call the Fire Brigade.... seconds count... and get out. .Only fight the fire if you have your back to a 100% decent escape route. If you mange to put it out yourself, the Fire Brigade won't mind. Plus, they will make sure the fire is completely out.


Paul Marsh27/12/2018 08:48:10
3963 forum posts
1190 photos

I worked at a small company , just two offices - back in the 90's. I noticed that there were no fire extinguishers around, and suggested we get two.

Lesley, the secretary said why? She said " we don't need them - there is no fire".

I thought she was joking, but she wasn't. Not a very bright individual...crying

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