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The Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow Moderator,
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I like many people here I have an inbuilt single garage to my house.

I'm getting increasingly worried about what would happen if a fire broke out either when I'm there or worse still away.

For example, it contains at least the following :-

1-10 Gallon of Petrol plus whatever is in the bikes
1-6 gallon of oil
20 Litre container for waste oil/petrol
A dozen or so tyres
3 CO2 Welding Pub Bottles
Compressor and large receiver
Central Heating Boiler and gas supply
Carpet :devious

etc etc

So, what to do about it ...................

I have thought about a spinkler system activated by a heat detector, but that is a last case as it would cause a lot of damage in a false alarm etc.

Halon System would be too expensive, what about CO2 ?

I would need a solenoid valve on the main house gas supply and ideally a contactor to kill the power ring main in there.


Anybody out there got any idea's :O
 

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depending on the age of the property it should be designed to a minimum of 1hr fire resistance .....

Obviously the logical move is a "flamvault" for the flammable materials/liquids which will with hazard containment, and the issue of false alarms on sprinklers would depend on the type of sensors used .... they're not that unreliable?

Not that I'm an expert on the subject ........:)
 

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The Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow Moderator,
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I built above the garage and fire boarded the ceiling and fitted a 1 hour fire door into the house etc, so I'm covered in that respect.

I think what I have is enough to get the wife and kids out in the event of a fire, it's the bikes, lathe, milling machine and tools etc that I worry about, oh and the rest of the house :devious

I could flamvault the dangerous petrol/oil stuff, but there's still too much other stuff like the bikes, tyres, gas bottles etc

I thought about have the sprinkler on a manual system incase when welding it kinda gets out of hand for the hand held foam/CO2 fire extinguishers I have.


It's a tricky one ?
 

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well, the only way to 100% avoid a fire is/

take away all combustibles.
take away all heat sources.
take away all electricity.

not a fun garage then!

All the garage fires I have been to were caused by blatant stupidity. People spraying ether into engines and it backfires, and stuff like that.

My favorite was the guy who wanted to wax his Fiero GT in the middle of the winter. Any ideas on what a kerosene tube heater does to a plastic car when placed close?

A few were electrical. But they were usually CHEAP extension cords or overloaded outlets.

One from a torch, and 2 from welders. Did you know hot sparks light fires? These asswipes didn't.

The only advise I can give you is:
1. pay up your insurance. Better to be safe than sorry.
2. keep as much of the fuel as close to a door as you can.
3. Keep outlets from being overloaded. Make sure your box can support your load.
4. Watch what you heat with. Fireplaces and kerosene heaters are dangerous.
5. Use your head when running a torch or welder. For obvious reasons.
6. Just use your head. If something doesn't look right. IT ISN'T!!
7. Disconnect batteries that are not being used. They do short out sometimes.
 

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Halon is bad stuff. It robs oxygen, and kills people. CO2 isn't much better, and is very messy.

Just make sure everyone in your house know where the gas valves and electric shut offs are. and where you keep things that go boom. It makes the firemans job easier.
 

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How about a main electrical switch for the garage that you can turn off whenever your not in the garage - that way, no chance of an electrical fire while your away (I can't think of much else thatt would cause fire while you were away...)

good luck
 

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The Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow Moderator,
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
My main worry is welding, if I've got the mask down for a minute or so, things could quickly be out of hand.

Silly little things like optimate battery charger going pop etc

My only panic so far was when I changed the oil on my race bike and some of the oil soaked into the exhaust heat wrapping without me noticing and when I started it up on a 2k tickover the TL front pipe glows red and set the oil on fire, unfortunately I grabbed the dry power instead of the CO2 and blitzed my bike in snow :banghead

I think a couple of sprinkler heads, heat detector and power washer pump would make a simple last resort device coupled to a solenoid valve on the gas supply.
 

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Good question re fire hazard or reduction. As pointed out any system that uses a gas to exclude oxygen needs to be controled by a fail safe system, read expensive. The older haylon gas is DANGEROUS, the older control systems used to give warning to evacuate and then dump after about 1 minute, similar for CO2. Not a great idea for domestic situations.

Seems like your already safety inclined, the fire proof cabinet is a good idea in anycase. Fueled cars and bikes are a real problem, best use some of the advice above and expand on your prevention habits. Electrical overload is one of the more common sources of fire.

Similar to you i have a small machine shop, TIG welder, bikes stored in workshop etc etc. Disconnecting batteries before i go away. Cannot really think of anything useful other than have a discrete chat with the local fire brigade lads and maybe other "factories" in the area to see what they do in regard to absent fire protection and alarm systems. Also be aware many domestic insurance policies have small limits on fuel storage, gives them a reason to decline payouts if worst comes to worst.
HTH
 

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I worry about gas, errr, petrol vapours. They are heavier than air and will hang around and go POOF. I've seen a few boat fires from petrol :)banghead) vapors collecting in the bilge until a spark sets them off. Makes for a very large firework display.

Prevention is always the best route (although being prepared for a fire is wise too) so maybe come up with a good ventilation setup? Just a thought I didn't see mentioned.
 

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You've got a storage problem. Been there myself. Hell, I'm guilty now... What's your climate, where do you live? I worry about the same stuff...

Carpet? Remove the carpet and put in either a good brush-or-roller-in-place epoxy (they have cute special garage paints with little color sprinkles) or even the rubber flooring like they put in some gyms. Spill something flammable in the carpet and you've got a really seriously dangerous problem with it wicking up and no possibility of clean-up. That's dangerous. If your feet get fatigued on solid floor, you can get rubber factory mats but not and absorbent carpet. Maybe industrial rubber carpet, but even that's risky IMHO. If the floor's smooth and easy to clean, no grease or oil, no paint storage, no carpet, no sawdust, you've eliminated a lot of risk.

Why something so fancy? Just adding a few sprinkler heads isn't expensive. They work; not ideal on grease & oil etc. but the pipe doesn't run out like an extinguisher does. They really slow the spread, buy you time. After all, if your water heater or boiler is in there you've already got a cold water supply for it, just add a valve and branch that line, maybe a flush-out valve & drain line at the end of the main run. Nothing to it, not very expensive, couple hours' work..might even get an insurance discount if you do the house too. In the house they really do save lives.

And IMHO your gas cans should not even be in the garage, they should be outside in a vented garden shed detached from the house, against a non-flammable fence at the edge of your lot. The shed isn't expensive, and gets your mower & garden crap out of your garage too. Bad enough having the vehicle tanks, but nowadays they seal in their vapors. Paint and thinner and stripper out of the garage too.

Why store used oil at all? Bad habit unless you use it for machining lube or something. Recycle it ASAP! No excuse, take it out on the way to work. In many states shops that sell oil have to accept used oil. If you need it to pour onto concrete forms as a mold release agent or you pour it onto farm equipment to slow rust or something, store it outside in a shed. Here our auto parts store has an outside drum outside their door, accessible 24 hours a day.

Tire rubber doesn't even like the ozone from electric motors, doesn't like too much heat. If you're in a cool climate, they'll be happier in a shed. Even in a hot climate, a shed might be ventilated better than a garage. A dozen tires? Do you really need snows for 3 4-wheel-drives or something?? Can't part with old take-offs? Are you storing any tires you don't really need? Personally I don't keep any tire I'm not going to use before it would get damaged from being outside under the eaves on the shady side of the house, so that's where I keep 'em. Right now I have no extra tires, gave 'em all away (but I do need some LOL).

I heat my garage only via 220v electric heater. Relatively safe, compared to the alternatives, really cheap from McMaster Carr. I hang the heater(s) high where it/they don't blow on anything, just circulate the warm air well, permanent wiring out of the way and safe. Don't know whether code will let you run a duct off the home furnace for your attached garage. I used to have a Mr. Heater gas catalytic ceramic radiant heater in Chicago, but it didn't work out all that well, better suited for outside the big door or a really big building.

Code won't allow a door from bedroom to garage. But you can turn part of the garage into a tool room or laundry room with a window, and have a door from bedroom to that, 2nd door from that to garage. Metal shield on solid door. And metal weatherstripping and metal threshold.

These days electronic ballasts don't start fires as often as they used to, new high-efficiency electronic ballasts with high-efficiency flourescents make much less heat than incandescent bulbs, and save electricity too. Plus it's just better diffuse light. Hot incandescents can start fires, dirty pull-strings ignite (only use pull chains for any pull switch in a basement or garage), etc.

I do like having plenty of extinguishers handy. You can operate two of the small ones at once rambo-style if you need to, with 4 and a garden hose or two there's a lot you and a friend can handle until help arrives if you get right on it quickly enough.

Have a phone handy, and don't hesitate to call 911.

A pressure washer probably isn't going to help at all, not enough volume of water. Better to have a pair of hose bibs right where your main enters the house, and a reel or two of hose mounted on the outside wall right by the big garage door.

Get a metal enclosure for the boiler, vent the enclosure to the outside, and add a springker head inside the enclosure. Next time have the boiler installed elevated off the floor so that heavy flammable vapors spreading along the floor don't light as quickly.

Your welding tanks have shut-offs, they're not going to start anything then. Tanks chained onto a good wheeled dolly that won't tip over?

Never use a gas space heater around oily rags etc. Guy burned down my grandmother's garage that way. Even a small real furnace built into a vented closet is better.

Good luck and just keep thinking about safety.
 

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Here in SoCal my current fire risk is post-earthquake. Problems like water heater falling over and breaking the gas line, shelves of paint falling over, etc.
 

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Nice ideas Cyclecamper ......... gonna rethink my layout too, after reading that
 

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The Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow Moderator,
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Some very good points there cycle camper.

I should have a water hose in the garage as it's currently connected to an outside tap and would take a good minute to get it out around to the garage and in.

The tyres are mainly wets on wheels for the TL and a couple of part worns incase of a puncture etc

I wait until the 20L waste oil is full then recycle it, would probably be better using 5L containers and like you say keeping them in a seperate shed until I go.

I have a 12" wall fan over my bench that I use when washing stuff in petrol, which pulls air from under the main garage door and stirs the vapours and stops them settling on the floor, I also leave it on for some time afterwards aswell as the negative pressure stops the smells getting into the house.

The central heating boiler is a balanced flue one, and in theory sealed from the room. It gives off enough heat to keep the garage warm, but in winter when I'm working I have a 3Kw wall fan on a stat which i turn off before leaving.

There are no windows in the garage for security, only the main door and the single access door which is into the hall way near the front house door, not the bedroom, that would be too convenient and mean the wife would see even less of me :devious
The bedroom is above the garage.

I've tried painting the floor but sidestands/centre stands/paddock stands etc are forever chipping it off, so the old carpet was a comfort thing aswell when your on your hands and knees, I do have the rubber anti fatigue mats next to the lathe and mill to also help stop swarf spreading everywhere. I have now got a bike lift so I could get rid of the carpet now as like you say it is a major risk and would quickly help spread a fire.

Plenty of points there to think about, thankyou :thumbup
 
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at least get fire extinqisher(how does it spell).. and get trash can that is metallic and it has a lid.

Try to not keep much stuff in the trash can.

clean the area before you weld. I usually do my welding outdoors if possible.

I usually disconnect batteries from project bikes as they may be little unsafe. my street bike can keep it's power.

JarkkoT.
 

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Luckily nowadays sealed bateries don't give off hydrogen while charging anymore.

Overhead reels for hoses (air, water; retractable overhead electric cord reels are nice too) sure make it easier to clean up, and less likley to burn, plus you don't trip on them. Plus then the water is really immediately available in an emergency!

Plenty of grounded outlets is certainly better than lots of extension cords.

Ground fault circuit breakers in your fusebox are wonderful IMHO. So's a big whole-house surge arrestor at the fusebox.

Don't wash with gas if you can possibly help it (but I imagine we all do it sometime 'cause it's handy and comparativley cheap). Get trichlor in bulk? I'd imagine even kerosene might be a little safer than gas?

Good idea having the fan blowing out instead of in. Almost like a chemist's exhaust hood. Plus your visitors can't tell what you're smoking unless they walk behind your garage.

Smoke detectors inside the house of course, but get a carbon monoxide detector too if your bedroom is above the garage. They are pretty sensitive.

Good luck, manage the risks is a good motto I guess.
 

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The Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow Moderator,
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Just bought a Heat Detector today that's compatible with the 3 interlinked 240v smoke detectors that I already have in the house, when any one is activated they all sound.

Will also fit a bib tap and hose in the garage aswell.

It's a start and I think the main prevention is common sense.

It's not until it's mentioned and you think about the items most of us have in our garages that you become aware of the potential risk...............
 

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A word of caution on the edison or baynet replacement discharge light replacements for incandecent lamps. Had one here for all night running, it let go and i pulled it apart to see why. Complete over speced parts inside. 100V capacitor slung across rectified 240VAC. Flywire wires so small in gauge that they vapourised and ignited surounding plastic, lucky it self extinguished. UL and C tick approval on the item, yer right! Will not have them in the house ever now, unless real certification is proved.
HTH
 
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