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This should be obvious to everyone, but you’d be blown away by how many private shops I’ve walked into that don’t have a fire extinguisher available.  Maybe they have one, but it’s hidden in a closet somewhere.  Either way, it’s incredibly dangerous to do pretty much any kind of DIY work — especially woodworking and metalworking — without some way to put out a fire. 

There’s a lot to understanding which extinguishers work best with which type of fires, but if you’re living without one while you’re all tied up figuring it out, just run down to your local big-box and pick up a class A, B, C unit.  It’ll be far better than nothing.

If you want to know more, there are some great resources on the net that explain things in detail.  But my piece of advice to you today is, don’t wait until you have a fire

Oh yeah — one other piece of advice: Don’t mount the fire extinguisher in exactly the place where you think the fire’ll start.  It really sucks when you can’t get to the extinguisher because it’s on fire.  Doh!


6 Responses to Do you have a fire extinguisher in the shop?

  1. nrChris says:

    I am making a lot of sawdust now that I have a real workshop in my basement. And sometimes it bothers me to think how flammable that stuff is. Just sitting there on the floor. I try to be vigilant and sweep / vacuum what I can. But then I am just collecting it and centralizing the fuel for the fire.

    I guess I will add this to my shop purchase list. Anyone have a good disposal method for sawdust–or am I just being too paranoid?

  2. MikeR says:

    Got a dust collector? At least you wouldn’t have to sweep/vacuum as often.

    On the WW forums they mention using sawdust for mulch, or something like that, if you have any gardening friends.

  3. Cybergibbons says:

    Sawdust is weird stuff. I watched a video, produced sometime during the 60s by the government, which was studying fires in workshops. It had sawdust, swarf, metal dust, grease, oil, etc. It seemed that most types of sawdust were fairly hard to ignite and reasonably easy to put out. This was before the days of the fine powder you get when working with ply or MDF though.

    The real worrying thing from this was how easy metal chips (ally, magnesium and titanium particularly) could ignite when covered in cutting oil, and once they went, how hard it was to put out. Not really a worry in a home workshop, but in an aircraft factory…

    It’s a shame you can’t still get/use Halon extinguishers, because they really were good.

  4. Rick says:

    Saw dust is highly flammable, as a quick Youtube search of “fire” and “Sawdust” will attest to. Like this:
    or this

  5. Paul says:

    Yeah I donno I’ve been doing all sorts of work for a pretty long time now and I haven’t burnt the place down yet. I play with all sorts of flammable liquids, welding methods, grinding sparks, dust, and swarf, and I guess I am careful or something. I clean up a lot because I know I do all of these things at various times. Plus I just hate walking on “broken ground” as I think of it. When debris pile up on the floor and it starts feeling like you’re walking on a sandy beach or something. I just don’t go there. I operate on a “clean as you go” routine. Mainly I do it for my mindset, but I suppose it has other beneficial side effects too, like not burning the place down!

  6. John says:

    My garage has a fire extinguisher near the walk-through door and another on the opposite side of the drive-through door. Even without machining or welding, working on cars has plenty of fire hazards: fuel leaks, oil spills, short circuits, arcs and sparks…

    Whenever I start a car after an engine rebuild, I get someone to stand by with a fire extinguisher in hand. And don’t have the car up on jacks — be ready to push it out of the garage!!

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