> Workshop fire on weekend. Be warned! - All MetalShaping <
All MetalShaping

Go Back   All MetalShaping > General Metal Shaping Discussion > Shop Safety
  Today's Posts Posts for Last 7 Days Posts for Last 14 Days  

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
  #1  
Old 09-10-2017, 11:16 PM
berntd berntd is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: New South Wales Australia
Posts: 55
Default Workshop fire on weekend. Be warned!

Hello

I was curtting sheet metal with my angle grinder in my workshop at the bench.

Minutes later I smelled a wood fire kinda smell but saw nothing. I thought it was hazard reduction burning going on outside by the bushfire brigade - which there actually was.

A bit later, i noiced a haze in the workshop and immediatly knew that I have a problem.

The room filled with smoke, from the top down as I was desperately looking for the source.

I always have an extinguisher and a bucket of water ready right nerxt to the bench for these sort of issues.

I was not able to find the source of the smoke. It just got denser by the seconds. I started getting desperate and pulled stuff from the bench and out of the shelves onto the floor.

Nothing. I then sloshed water from the bucket around in the hope of achiving something but still nothing.

I then thought I will drowse / sprinkle the whole shop in water so I ran outside to get a hose and I connected it to my rainwater tank and switched on the pump, ready to run back in with the hose and start watering.

The damn pump would not start. It just sat there buzzing!!!

At that moment I realised that this workshop and shed are likely to burn down so I dashed off to the house to call the firebrigade.

For some reason, they tried to keep me on the line and asked how am I doing etc. I had to pull myself away and try and at least do something.

I went back in a last time to see if I can start salvaging something. The place was pretty full with smoke and stank terribly.

Then, I saw flames going up the plywood on an unrelated bench in the far corner of the workshop.

Pumping with adrenalin, I ran back out and filled my bucket with water from the backyard swimming pool. Thank god for that pool!!

I extinguished it just as the firebrigade arrived.

Far out, that was really close!!!

It was a rag that smouldered and eventually set the workbench top and wall on fire.

I have no idea why the rag cought alight as it is quite far from the bench and I tested it yesterday, only very few angle grinder sparks can land there.

It was not an oily rag but just an old dry rag.

I am prepaped for stuff like this as fires do happen occasionally when welding in cars etc but what's the use one canno find the source.

I now can't work in the shop properly because the smell lingers and every time I grind something, I keep thinking it is burning somehwere again.


I am having mental trouble believing that this rag could be set alight at such a distance and with only a very few sparks dropping down onto it. It was behind a bench grinder (out of view) so no direct path for the sparks to even get there.


Lessons learned?
1) In case of a fire, the usually reliable equipment like hose, pump etc. may not work.
2) It is a lost cause if one cannot find the source of the fire.
3) Do not build a workshop out of timber or at least add cladding or coatings (paint?) that is not flammable.
4) Keep ALL rags in a box with a lid or cover. Do not leave them lying anywhere. And I mean anywhere!
5) Who knows??

Who else has had this sort of thing happen?
__________________
Best regards
Bernt
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 09-10-2017, 11:41 PM
crystallographic crystallographic is offline
MetalShaper of the Month October '14 & April '16
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Western Sierra Nevadas, Badger Hill, CA
Posts: 2,602
Default

Bernt,
I am SO very glad you are safe and your shop is safe. So close!
Too close!

I have had fire start outside from a big abrasive metal saw, and I caught it just in time.
Rags smoldering - yes and slosh with water.

No fire in shop - so far -- so lucky, still.

Again - SO glad you and your shop are OKAY !!!
__________________
Kent

http://www.tinmantech.com

"All it takes is a little practical experience to blow the he!! out of a perfectly good theory." --- Lloyd Rosenquist, charter member AWS, 1919.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 09-11-2017, 05:06 AM
Oldnek Oldnek is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Ulladulla, Australia
Posts: 1,237
Default

Glad to hear Bernt all is well and nothing to serious. It could of been a major in a very short period of time, and even that feeling of panic through your body when you can smell it but don't see it when your trying to find the source.
I haven't been in a situation where I have set fire to anything at home or in the shop, the only thing that came close, was when I was Welding a new section of roof to fill in a removed Air Con Unit from a Ex Volkswagen LT35 Ambulance,
I was using the MIG to tack it in place and sparks set foam insulation on the inner rear 1/4 panels alight. Plenty of smell and black smoke, but couldn't see where it was coming from, until I saw the paint on the outside starting to tarnish and the panel getting hot, then I flooded the 1/4's with the hose.
So i know how the panic attack feels.
__________________
John
EK Holden V8
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 09-11-2017, 12:58 PM
geelhoed geelhoed is offline
Meet Hosts
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: hastings mich
Posts: 225
Default

Rags can smolder for a long time. I always try to keep an eye on stuff like that in the shop!

Andy Geelhoed(guesswork)
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 09-11-2017, 05:44 PM
cliffrod cliffrod is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Spartanburg, SC
Posts: 851
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by berntd View Post
Hello



Lessons learned?
1) In case of a fire, the usually reliable equipment like hose, pump etc. may not work.
2) It is a lost cause if one cannot find the source of the fire.
3) Do not build a workshop out of timber or at least add cladding or coatings (paint?) that is not flammable.
4) Keep ALL rags in a box with a lid or cover. Do not leave them lying anywhere. And I mean anywhere!
5) Who knows??

Who else has had this sort of thing happen?

Point number 1 says it all.

About 25 yrs ago, one of my best friends caught on fire along with a Sportster that he was working on. It's a very bad idea to try to start an engine with NO exhaust pipes or manifolds to take it out for quick test ride in the parking lot. It's very easy to light any loose flooded fuel, melt a fuel line and create massive problems... This was in the service dept at the old local HD dealership, wooden floors, somewhat timber framed old building. Solid black smoke framing him holding up the bike by the handlebars, illuminated by a ball of deep orange 100% gasoline flames. The melted fuel line was simply pouring out gas, feeding the flame faster than it could burn up into the tank. Not cool. he later said he didn't want to drop it because he was trying to not burn down the whole world.

When you see all the "experts", literally 15+/- people, running around like a bunch of circus clowns and screaming like school kids (not kidding) in a panic, it's hard enough to get them out of the way to help. But when two of the first three serious fire extinguishers that I alone used simply go "pffft" and nothing comes out, it's WAY not cool.

Being July in South Carolina with no a/c, he was working somewhat in front of a fan. It was almost impossible to see it in all the black smoke, but it also kept blowing the fire back up every time I got it almost extinguished. Eventually, after a 4th fire extinguisher and 3-4 oil spill booms of quick dry hastily cut open to smother the end of the fire, I got both him, the bike and the decades-long-oil-soaked floor put out.

While the "experts" returned and started to clean the shop, I helped him outside at his request to his van for immediate beer therapy- one for each hand while he held his fully scorched & split-skinned 2nd & 3rd degree burned fingers & hands under water in his ice chest being careful to not get any water in either open beer. I supervised and opened several for him, plus 1-2 for me. The bike had little significant damage and his burns eventually healed fine, which has ever since been credited to the immediate beer therapy.

In between things, when I was inside helping clean up, I looked at the two dead fire extinguishers. Both had gauges reading in the green with recent up to date inspections and were identical in age & condition as the ones that worked. I had to run all over the entire shop and then showroom and then behind counter to find 4 of them on the fly. Know what is where and what else is where in case it doesn't go well.

The point is, don't be naive to think that the one fire extinguisher, hose, bucket of sand or whatever is going to save you life, shop or otherwise. You will be wise to waste a few fire extinguishers PRACTICING how to use one before it is a life or death situation, as well as practicing as best you can what to do if it doesn't go well.
  1. Never trust the gauge on ANY fire extinguisher at face value. Assume it will NOT be any good, no matter what the gauge or inspection tag says. Know where another one is, Plus another. Plus another...
  2. Can you find another fire extinguisher or a hose that reaches/doesn't leak or yanks apart when you jerk it trying to go too fast or ???
  3. Little fire extinguishers run out very quickly. they also don't reach very far.
  4. Big ones sometimes still aren't big enough. 2-3 big ones sometimes still aren't enough.
  5. CO2 versions are different than dry chemical, much different patterns and action in use. Some only have water in them, which are of limited use if not useless or a liability sometimes. Know what they look like before it goes bad.
  6. Most people have never used a fire extinguisher for any reason, much less in a literal life & death, "omg my (blank) is on fire!" situation. Practice before it happens,as well as what to do afterwards. Things don't always go well.
  7. nowadays, what are you or someone else going to do when the cell phone or interweb doesn't come to your rescue? No signal, wrong location, ??? maybe a chatty operator answers the phone like mentioned above? You should know that one of the fastest ways to get the authorities to your place is to call 911 from a landline or from a cell, say "I need help" & your address, say little or nothing else and then hang up. If you don't answer when they call back, they will send someone to check asap. Might not be the fire dept, but they will send some authority immediately- especially in smaller communities.
  8. Have some kind of contingency plan, multiple layers of contingency plans if you can.

Some people simply cannot handle bad situations without panic or freezing. Know who you can trust with your life and who you can't. Some people will not be of any use when it really matters. No need to be inconsiderate about it. Just manage the situation.

Response to serious injuries are similar- think ahead. Plan. Practice what you can. Seizures, things cut off, major injuries to the point of death. What will you do? Working alone? even more reason to think ahead. It may never happen, but... basic first aid, facilitating a bad event to keep it from getting worse. Some people will respond by curling up in the fetal position on the floor mesmerized while their friend is literally dying. That happened another time in TN. So did my blood & guts ex marine former boss that nearly fainted when he saw blood from a deep but relatively minor wound (needed 9 stitches). That was also in TN, in a program teaching self-sufficiency... Go figure. Some people see a dead body, then shut down and cannot help the person that isn't dead yet. Don't be that person. You may be the only one to help. jmho.

btw- My burnt motorcycle friend is doing just fine. We'll already planning on a little beer therapy later tonight, starting in about an hour. More ongoing preparation & practice, just in case. You can never be too prepared.....
__________________
AC Button II
http://CarolinaSculptureStudio.com
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzSYaYdis55gE-vqifzjA6A Carolina Sculpture Studio Channel
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 09-11-2017, 06:23 PM
berntd berntd is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: New South Wales Australia
Posts: 55
Default

Interesting stories.

Looks like a lot of people had bad experiences. Not just me
But those who do a lot of stuff, obviously have a probability of stuff going wrong.

My dad suggested that I should clad the plywood in very thin sheet metal to reduce fire hazard. That is another major project though.

That will not help me with the exposed roof beams though. They are treated pine and there is a mezzanine floor on top of those with several tons of stuff and parts.

I wonder if there is some sort of fire retardant paint instead?
I am also considering a 3.5kg or maybe a 5kg CO2 extinguisher. Boy, both of those are quite heavy and the work for 10s or 17s only.


Any opinons suggestions greatly appreciated?

Regards
Bernt
__________________
Best regards
Bernt
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 09-11-2017, 06:28 PM
Charlie Myres Charlie Myres is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Narrogin, Western Australia
Posts: 161
Default

For small paper, wood and cloth fires, a 5 litre garden spray bottle is extremely handy and set to a fog-type spray, will take the heat away very quickly. I have one in the workshop all the time.

They can also be used in forest-fire-prone areas, to be used by the householder to extinguish embers in a roof space after the fire has passed. I have read of people saving their 4WD when dry fuel has started burning on the exhaust pipe, with one of these.

It is a cheap, reliable and easy to test item.

Glad to know you are OK Berndt,

Cheers Charlie
__________________
Charlie
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 09-11-2017, 08:18 PM
cliffrod cliffrod is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Spartanburg, SC
Posts: 851
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by berntd View Post
Interesting stories.

Looks like a lot of people had bad experiences. Not just me
But those who do a lot of stuff, obviously have a probability of stuff going wrong.

My dad suggested that I should clad the plywood in very thin sheet metal to reduce fire hazard. That is another major project though.

That will not help me with the exposed roof beams though. They are treated pine and there is a mezzanine floor on top of those with several tons of stuff and parts.

I wonder if there is some sort of fire retardant paint instead?
I am also considering a 3.5kg or maybe a 5kg CO2 extinguisher. Boy, both of those are quite heavy and the work for 10s or 17s only.


Any opinons suggestions greatly appreciated?

Regards
Bernt
Not sure about paint, but here in the USA there are specific code required & approved procedures for appropriate gypsum drywall with specific fire resistant silicone caulking that are used in multi-unit & -level/-floor construction. With that mentioned ex-marine former boss and our crew, we serviced a contract doing a full r&r of a 4 story building that had been done wrong so had to have all the improper but brand new firebreak drywall redone. Easy to install and segregate specific areas. But I still hate doing drywall.....

Usually, a local building inspector can be asked questions about such things and will provide wise advice. Doing it the right way can be a big help with any subsequent insurance claim, if that ever happens.

It is good that you were not hurt and didn't lose your building. You're in a great spot to do something now that you're past the hypothetical.
__________________
AC Button II
http://CarolinaSculptureStudio.com
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzSYaYdis55gE-vqifzjA6A Carolina Sculpture Studio Channel
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 09-11-2017, 10:10 PM
Pokie's Avatar
Pokie Pokie is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Fort Collins, CO
Posts: 99
Default Thanks!

The warning will be taken! It's a good thing Bernt didn't get burnt!
__________________
http://pokiespages.com/
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 09-11-2017, 11:10 PM
berntd berntd is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: New South Wales Australia
Posts: 55
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pokie View Post
The warning will be taken! It's a good thing Bernt didn't get burnt!
Yes and the fire brigade and police all kippled over laughing when they wrote the report and asked my name Bernt / Burnt.

They thought I was making a joke!
__________________
Best regards
Bernt

Last edited by berntd; 09-11-2017 at 11:14 PM.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:45 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.