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Roger:

Any UL listed extinguisher with the minimum rating of 2A-10BC - can do the job.  Anything smaller just isn't big enough to do the job in the hands of the average person.  Avoid any with plastic handles - stick with metal.  Kidde is a good brand name and is readily available.  If not buying one with a brand name make sure it has the UL label and the 2A-10BC rating..

Kurt

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41 minutes ago, Jim Rogers said:

What does 2A-10BC tell me?

A fire extinguisher that is rated 2A:10 BC means it has a fire fighting capacity equivalent to: 2.5 Gallons of Water and 10 Square Feet for a BC Type Fire. 

 

The letters stand for the class of fire the extinguisher can be used against:

A – ordinary combustibles (wood, paper, plastic, etc.)
B – flammable liquids (oil, gas, petroleum, etc.)
C – electrical equipment
D – metals
K – cooking oils and fats

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2 hours ago, wefalck said:

What are you doing that you need a fire-extinguisher in a hobby workshop ?

   “What---Me Worry?” As John says “preparing for the worst and hoping for the best” is a much better philosophy than that of Alfred E. Newman of Mad Magazine fame.

    Due to various materials and equipment being used there, the potential for fire in this area is probably one of the highest in your home.  You have saw dust in the air along with volatile vapors from paint, stain or varnish, working with caustic chemicals that require protective gloves and masks.  Then you have ignition sources galore from open flames for soldering, shorts from electrical equipment, the pilot lights in your water heater or furnace, or heaven forbid, a smokers cigarette.  Other than that, I can’t really see any reason for having one or more readily available.

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On top of the above I also have 2 large cylinders of butane for the heater. My garage is packed full of wood, fuel, paper, oil etc all in close proximity with naked flame present often enough!

 

I bought 2 extinguishers, a CO2 and a foam one and also a fire blanket. Apparently the extinguisher that does all is the one that throws microscopic water droplets but it was far too expensive.

 

I think a realistic expectation is to be able to extinguish small fires and to feel better with this knowledge. For a big fire, a camera to capture the scene would be more useful.

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Every fire starts small - that is the time to tackle it.  The fire extinguisher is the tool - just like the rest of your shop has specialized tools - the extinguisher is your first line of defense after prevention.

 

A fire doubles in size every minute.  Having an extinguisher at hand can avert a disaster.  Call 911 and THEN grab the extinguisher and aim it at the base of the fire, not at the flames.  If you have the fire extinguisher and get to the fire in the first minute you will have a small issue.  If however, you call 911 and then stand there watching the fire grow because you don't have the extinguisher to use, know that the fire is going to double in size every minute.  How far away is the FD from your home?  Remember the fire is doubling in size every minute, when you had the chance to pull the pin on a fire extinguisher and put out the fire before the FD even got the fire truck's engine started. 

 

A club member had left his shop at about 11 PM to go upstairs to see the news and go to bed.  His invalid wife was in bed on the second floor.  He got to the first floor closed the basement door and went to the kitchen for a glass of water and heard a noise he didn't recognize.  Started to investigate and as he neared the stairs to the basement heard the sound and identified it a the basement smoke detector.  He opened the door and saw a small fire on his workbench and started down the stairs.  He kept a small tea candle burning on his bench to flash off the C/A from the C/A applicator and had forgotten to blow it out.  It had somehow ignited a sprue of plastic from the kit he was working on.  He said he was truly shocked and scared at how fast the small fire he saw upon opening the door had grown by the time he got to the fire extinguisher by the bench - it had grown to take over the entire top of the bench and all the kit pieces, box and plans before he could get the extinguisher and put out the fire.  As it involved a plastic kit the entire basement was filled with black smoke and floating plastic that clung to every inch of the ceiling and covered the floor.

 

He called me the next morning and told me of the fire and asked me to advise him on how to avoid a repeat.  After looking over the mess I pointed out his extinguisher was located so he had to go past the burning workbench to get it - I had him locate the extinguisher by the stairs so it is close to the exit - and it would have been right at hand as he came down the stairs and he could have used it quicker than having to go past the fire to the other side of the room before he could grab it.

 

I also encouraged him to have smoke detectors on each level of the house and to have them interconnected so that the basement detector would have made each detector sound an alarm and he would have heard it sooner.  More importantly, if he had not extinguished it quickly his invalid wife was asleep on the 2nd floor w/o any alarm on her level.  If he didn't have the extinguisher he would have been waiting for the FD to show up with his wife on the second floor - and heat and smoke rise.   The chance of her getting out would not have been good with the proximity of the stairs to one another.

 

I have had guys ask why my fire extinguisher is so far away from my work benches and I point out that it's near the phone to call 911 and near the stairs to get out.  You never want the fire to be between you and the exit without an extinguisher in hand.  I have a propane torch and several containers of solvents (all in metal cans) near my bench.  If I have a fire and go for the extinguisher my back will be to the exit if it grew to involve any of the hazards by the time I have it in hand to fight the fire and I can bail out and direct the FD to the right area.  I have the advantage of being confident I can probably extinguish any fire I might have in my shop with my 30+ years of experience and the fire extinguisher at hand.

 

Remember, call 911 and aim at the base of the fire not at the flames.

 

Kurt

 

 

 

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As mentioned above, always keep the fire extinguisher near the exit door.  Never let a fire get between you and the door.  if there is any doubt about being able to quench it leave immediately.  As for the phone, well, I got rid of regular house phones a decade or so ago (a damned nuisance that I didn't want to pay for), and I always keep my cellphone in my pocket.  If you do call 911, don't forget to say the address because that info may not be available to the operator.

 

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