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Fire Extinguishers For The Shop

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  • Fire Extinguishers For The Shop

    Fire Extinguishers For The Shop

    I’m wondering if a CO2 fire extinguisher would be appropriate for a small shop fire. I’m talking about a small fire that has broken out that hasn’t gotten to bad yet. A fire where you have decided it isn’t that bad and you want to leave the ten-pound ABC dry chemical extinguisher in the corner on it’s hanger for now. With a dry chemical fire extinguisher the powder goes everywhere and gets into everything. With a CO2 fire extinguisher you knock down the fire and there is nothing to clean up.

    The CO2 extinguishers are about three time as expensive as a dry chemical but I figure cutting loose just once with a dry chemical in the shop will off set the increased cost of the CO2.

    The replacement for Halon is Halotron but that extinguisher agent is way too expensive.

    But before I spend the money for a CO2 extinguisher I wanted to get some feed back from those who might know something on the subject.

    Thank you

  • #2
    CO2 are not good for oil fires, or anything else where the blast of gas may actually move the burning material & spread the fire.
    They're great for fires in awkward spaces.
    I work on steel boats & barges, & sometimes have to weld on the outside of a hull where there's no access to that spot on the inside for fire checking. I always keep a CO2 extinguisher handy in that situation.

    I have a Co2 and a dry powder in my shop, just in case.



    • #3
      Spend the money.
      It sounds like you understand your options pretty well. I would recommend that any shop have at least 2 of the larger ABC extinguishers (dry chemical) that are widely available for about $20.00. Place one by the main door and one at the other end of the shop; the same goes for a house. A CO2 Extinguisher is rated BC only, but they do a good job of augmenting ABC extinguishers.

      For those who don’t remember, class A fires are ordinary combustibles like paper and wood. Class B fires are flammable liquids, and class C fires involve energized electrical equipment. Class D fires are combustible metals. A CO2 extinguisher will put out a class A fire, but it will tend to keep reigniting. The dry chemical type will smother the fire. As you are aware however, they sure do make a mess. The residue is harmful to electronics and is very difficult to clean up.

      Clearly, a CO2 extinguisher is a very handy to have around should the need arise. If you ever end up using it, any added cost will quickly be repaid when it comes time to clean up. Keeping a couple of the dry chems around just makes sense since you can put out a lot of fire with them and the cost is minimal. Whatever mess you make sure beats the loss of an entire shop. A pressurized water extinguisher is sometimes useful, and offers the advantage that you can easily refill it yourself.
      Location: North Central Texas


      • #4
        One thing to remember about any type of Fire Extinguisher is that they can fail to work if not maintained. CO2s need to be weighed on an annual basis just to make sure they have not lost any of the agent. The weight full should be stamped on the valve assembly as well as on the label of newer extinguishers. ABC or cartridge opperated BC dry chemical units need to be lightly shaken or turned several times as if they were an egg timer, to keep the powder from packing together from its own weight, from just sitting there over the years. you should be able to feel it slide as you turn the unit end for end.

        While all pressure vessels are supposed to be Hydro-Tested on a regular schedule, you can get away with not doing this in a home setting until you need to have the extinguisher re-charged. If you are subject to any kind of inspection though, you need to have it done to the requirements set forth in the N.F.P.A. 10 doc. on Portable Fire Extinguishers, or face a fine or a problem from your insurer if there is a fire and they do not work as they are supposed to.

        A note on purchasing ABC pressurised extinguishers. It costs about $20.00 US to have one re-charged and about an additional $40.00-$60.00 for testing, so unless it is a good one, the best course may be to just replace it with a new one, especially if it is a 5lb or smaller one.

        One other consideration would be to keep a water extinguisher handy when welding or if you do a lot of wood working. It can be either a commercial Pressurized Water unit or my favorite for home use: a pump style garden sprayer. As it is not a stored pressure unit it needs no testing, it is easily refilled, and the cost can be cheap or as much as you want to spend. Think back-pack type "Indian Tank" types used in fighting woodland fires.


        • #5
          Dry chemical does give you the most fire safety bang for the buck but what happens to fine tools and machinery when you discharge one into a small sawdust fire under tthe table saw?

          One thing seldom realized is how corrosive the dry powder to machinery and electrical equipment. Fire makes lots of moisture, the smoke itself is slightly corrosive, and the dry powder fanned across the base of the flames generates lots of fire suppressant but also corrosive gasses. Once partly discharged the dry chemical fire extinguisher will slowly discharge its pressure through the powder trapped in the valve seat.

          If you can tolerate me setting my self up as some kind of self proclaimed fire safety expert (with zero justification) I regard a dry chemical fire extinguisher as very effective for large fires that threaten to get out of control but not well suited for snuffing small fires in a shop becuase of the clean up and inevitable corrosion damage. For smaller fires discovered early the dry chemical cure is much worse than the disease.

          For that reason I strongly reccommend a 15 lb CO2 fire extinguisher for general shop use but have a dry chemical extinguisher for back-up. CO2 extinguishers generate no corrosive gasses and they do a fine job on all fires provided you use the thing with a little skill and apply the CO2 snow with a lavish hand.

          I have four CO2 extinguishers, one at each door of the big shop (1500 sq ft and two CO2 in the small shop one at the welding station and the other at the mill and the lathe wrok area. I also keep a dry chemical near the woodworking machinery and one at the hot work area. Both are places where fire can be a feal hazard.

          Which reminds me. Its been a couple of years since I serviced them. I better get on the stick.


          • #6
            That reminds me... I have a WW2-era USNavy 15lb CO2 extinguisher I've been meaning to refurbish and set up as both a cool display and a useful safety device.

            Assuming, of course, that it will pass hydro.

            The one and only time it was hydrotested was October of 1944:

            Unless the upper number is "41", but I think that's a serial type number rather than a previous hydro.

            The valve looks in good shape, though the hose is rotted. The wood handle is cracked but the "horn" is in great shape. The external rust pitting is mild and shouldn't affect the strength. My only concern is internal damage, but if course they'll find that when it gets tested.

            I was going to try to carefully remove the smut from the band- which I think is brass or bronze, like a machine dataplate- as well as the tarnish from the valve (which I think is also bronze) paint the tank, replace the hose and handle, and build a wall hook for it. Or, maybe find an authentic one somewhere.

            Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)


            • #7
              anybody ever seen ?


              • #8
                How about a CO2 fire extinguisher and a garden hose? CO2 for the B and C class fires and the hose for class A. A little or a whole bunch of fire suppressant as needed.



                • #9
                  Co2 is fine for electrical (c)fires only, You should get PKP for A,B,D fires (combustibles,petroluem,chemical fires).
                  Don't use the garden hose, you will just push the flames to another area. You can use pkp on electrical fires also but it will destroy the wiring.
                  Non, je ne regrette rien.


                  • #10
                    Here is an idea.

                    You grab this after you have shot off both of your 15 lb CO2 bottles and both of your 10 lb ABC dry chemical bottles. It is a little pricy but you could make your own cabinet, get the hardware from Home Depot and find the hose in the RV section of Wal-Mart or a RV supply store.

                    At sometime though you would have to get out, go sit on the curb and cry.



                    • #11
                      I have 6 fire extinguishers between the basemen the garage shop. These are the 15 pound ABC type of extinguishers that Grainger sells. Plus I have two Halon extinguishers for the computer area.



                      • #12
                        I started a fire at work the other day while welding ,had 2 co2 ,and 2 powder extiguishers,and sand ,did i reach for them ?-no I picked up the hose and sprayed the fire out.
                        nothing wrong with having a hose handy.


                        • #13
                          I don't know for sure but I think Halon is illegal to use because it is not environmentally friendly.
                          As I recall the FAA was required to remove Halon from the Air Traffic on Control Centers (ARTCC).

                          We had an accidental discharge at the ARTCC where I work. A contractor dropped a drill on the discharge control and set the Halon bottles off. The system ran under the raised floor and when it blew it raised the floor all right. The 24â€‌ square floor tiles that weight 10 or 15lbs apiece went flying along with any dust that was under the floor. Everyone in the room had too make a hasty exit because the Halon sure took the oxygen out of the room. One technician was lucky he had his nitro pills in his pocked because he sure needed them when he got outside and there was no way he was going back in until the room was cleared. The poor guy’s heart went into over drive when that sucker blew. It was a wild seen seeing floor tiles flying off the floor, papers flying off the desks and anything else the wasn’t tied down. Nope, no one got hurt. It was a bit of a mess cleaning the dust up but none of the electronics was damaged and the controllers never knew anything had happened.

                          A couple engineers got their buts chewed because the system was to have been disable after the EPA had ordered the Halon bottles disabled and removed.

                          So the question is, “what was the Halon get replace with?â€‌ Water.


                          • #14
                            The university I go to still has a Halon fire suppression system in the machine room where all the servers and other network equipment lives, so I don't think it's illegal.



                            • #15
                              Halon has been illegal to manufacture since 1994, but it is still perfectly legal to own and use. The Halon that still exists is reclaimed and reused. There is a pseudo replacement called Halotron, but it’s not cheap.
                              Location: North Central Texas