smoke/Fire detectors in your garage/shop/fab area
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  1. #1
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    smoke/Fire detectors in your garage/shop/fab area

    Well due to recent circumstances, I have to open my eyes to the possibility of fires more than usual. Particularly in my garage where I'm building my jeep and do all of my welding and fab. I had a small fire last night that went unnoticed after my welding(even after 15min of clean up after welding) and luckily did not get out of hand, but I walked in this morning to a completely, burnt to the floor, garbage can that was lit due to a mig welding spark. While it is in my own fault and I do take some efforts to make sure these things don't happen. Since this has happened, Im halting everything and doing a major clean up.. Metal trash cans, Fire extinguishers in every corner, new shelving, smoke detectors, all flammables go away. period.

    I wanted to start the conversation of smoke detectors in the "Fab environment". Obviously, welding and cutting processes do create heat, sparks and smoke. So I'm curious on detectors that could minimise false alarms to these commonalities. We all have our areas and these areas have a lot of time and money invested in them to lose over one bad spark. If my garage was closer to the house, I would probably buy a Nest Protect to be able to send alerts to my phone as this would have been an ideal situation but Wifi is spotty at best to the garage.

    What do you guys use?

    Had this been any worse, all my money investing in my jeep and tools this last year would have been a total loss... I have to step up my awareness and precautions.
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  2. #2
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    Re: smoke/Fire detectors in your garage/shop/fab area

    You might look into a heat detector system rather than a smoke detector system. Heat detectors often work off the rate of heat rise.... so while it might reach 100 degrees in your garage if the detector is reading 60 degrees and within seconds reads 100 degrees then BAM it is into alarm. It is very common, and code requirement, in commercial and industrial applications especially in mechanical rooms and the like.

  3. #3
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    Re: smoke/Fire detectors in your garage/shop/fab area

    Besides your clean up, fire blankets are handy , covering FLOOR drain IF you have one, Having 5 gallon buckets of water FILLED if needed. I always have a connected garden hose ready too. This is from the days of getting a hot work permit. Hot work stops one hour before quitting time and the site engineer is required to check one hour after our quitting time .
    You can disable smoke detectors while welding and activate when you are done .

  4. #4
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    Re: smoke/Fire detectors in your garage/shop/fab area

    A few years ago a 6' x6' fiberglass filter full of lacquer paint dust in a freestanding 6x10' paint booth was accidentally ignited (long story). I was inside the booth when it happened and ran out to grab a fire extinguisher. the flames went up over my head and burned my hair as I was exiting. I had only made it about three steps when the built in overhead extinguishers went off and the fire was out just like that. It took less than 2 seconds from start to finish. In that time the ceiling (12') outside the paint booth was blackened and a smoke detector mounted above the paint booth door got hot enough to deform the cover.

    the fire extinguishers that saved us much worse damage were just dry chemical extinguishers designed for this sort of purpose that looked something like this.

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    except with a flange with bolt holes on the top for mounting. We had two in the paint booth. I was just thinking about these the other day and have been considering installing one in my utility closet where the breaker box and hot water heater are. I hadn't thought about the garage and I'm not sure how well they would work in larger space like that, but your post has me thinking I'll do a little more research on that.
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  5. #5
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    Re: smoke/Fire detectors in your garage/shop/fab area

    A quick search, a 20lb one covers about a 12 x 12 area and costs around $400. It would take several to cover a whole garage, but one could cover a corner where flammables were kept or something like that. Not cheap, but cheaper that a fire. http://www.usaindustrialsupply.com/i...oduct_id=32890 this looks exactly like what we had, only I think ours were 10lb size.
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  6. #6
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    Re: smoke/Fire detectors in your garage/shop/fab area

    actually that's a really nifty idea. I think if it covered 12x12 that would be roughly the size of my work bench area... and maybe one over the vehicle side. Considering the cost, I wonder if one couldn't just do a pressurized water container vs getting a fancy... dry chem retardant.. I like it, just maybe not the cost lol or maybe spacing out how often i would add on more(upto 3...)... what about building your own for that matter, if you could source the sprinkler heads, and maybe repurpose those 1 gallon air compressor tanks... fill it up 3/4 of a gallon and put 60psi behind it.. id feel like that'd be adequate to kill some fires...

    thinking about that more, for my environment, i have a tall raftor height, so at 20ft(aprox where those would sit) by the time those hit 165 to go off, it may be too late... i need to rethink that one...


    OK add on to the though of building something myself again... Buy a 20lb C02(c02 fire extinguishers are class b/c) tank and adapt a sprinkler head on it... it would be cheap... Sprinkler heads are 5-8 each... 20lb paintball c02 tank is what.. 40bux tops...
    Last edited by Seltzer; 03-07-2017 at 06:56 PM.
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  7. #7
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    Re: smoke/Fire detectors in your garage/shop/fab area

    Well my garage gets well below freezing when I don't build a fire in the wood stove. So any water based sprinkler is out. Plus I love diy stuff, but I don't think fire protection should fall into that category, for me anyway. The cost of these are a bit high, but if it ever prevented a fire, it would be the cheapest thing ever. I'm waiting to see what my refund is this year, was thinking a new welder, but maybe I'll just use it on this, plus one for each bedroom. I can mount those in the attic with just the nozzle part sticking through a 1 1/2" hole or so, so it wouldn't be an eyesore. I've also started replacing breakers with AFCI/ GJCI breakers, maybe I can finish that up too. Would definitely sleep better at night.
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  8. #8
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    Re: smoke/Fire detectors in your garage/shop/fab area

    I agree water seems out of the question as well. But CO2 is not... Regulated down to under 175 psi, you could put it behind a sprinkler head which would let it be heat sensitive and not reliant on a trigger switch( spot zone heat sensor).

    ...*runs around the house for my old paintball gear and pneumatic fittings*

    The question remains of how long a canister of C02 of a certain size can run for opened up to 175 presuming it doesn't freeze over. And how much area they are worth. And how effective it is..

    This would be the only viable fire supresision I could think of(outside of being there with a fire extinguisher when it's happening). The down fall of how long it takes the flames to get to the head to burst the cap. That's where spot sensors shine.

    I think first thing is first tho. Get detectors.

  9. #9
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    Re: smoke/Fire detectors in your garage/shop/fab area

    Quote Originally Posted by Seltzer View Post
    . If my garage was closer to the house, I would probably buy a Nest Protect to be able to send alerts to my phone as this would have been an ideal situation but Wifi is spotty at best to the garage.
    That is the absolutely, positively, top of the list WORST smoke/co detector to get. I know this from personal experience. Just google "Nest detector complaints" for an unending list of them. Even if nest says they have fixed/patched the bugs, don't believe it. Their thermostat is ok, but they dropped a big stinking bomb with their smoke detectors.

    I'd keep it simple, something ac w/ lithium 9volt backup.

  10. #10
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    Re: smoke/Fire detectors in your garage/shop/fab area

    I had read that the first generations had the problems. 2nd generation cleared a lot of issues up. I'm a fan of smart homes/home automation. I do see a natural problem with a lot of these thing being the connection service. Ie wifi. Needs to be fairly stable.

  11. #11
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    Re: smoke/Fire detectors in your garage/shop/fab area

    I have considered wither a WiFi or hardwired unit interconnected with the ones in the house. Trouble is you'd have to keep the one in the garage covered and protected while working then remember to uncover it at the end of the work session. Smoke alarms do not last long when subjected to grinding dust and particles.
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  12. #12
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    Re: smoke/Fire detectors in your garage/shop/fab area

    New detector is up along with a new fire extinguisher. I'll post pictures tomorrow. I got a photo/ion detector as heat sensor don't seem to be popular at big block stores. I already blew some cig smoke at it and didn't set it off. I do want to experiment with lighting some stuff on fire to test it. More on that later.
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  13. #13
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    Re: smoke/Fire detectors in your garage/shop/fab area

    You can almost never have too many extinguishers. It's crazy how fast a spark can get an out of control fire going. My mom had a little fire in her garage 10 years back. What a disaster that was, she was out of the house for 9 months before everything was fixed, cleaned, painted. When I used to be in facilities management, we would use a "can of smoke" the size of a small spray paint can to test the sensors, then blow out clean with compressed air every year. I'me going to look into those dry chemical units you had in the paint booth. I bet the insurance company would give you a nice discount on the yearly bill as well.
    Ryan

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  14. #14
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    Re: smoke/Fire detectors in your garage/shop/fab area

    the tinted welding screens are good, fire proof and deflect sparks and slag nicely
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  15. #15
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    Re: smoke/Fire detectors in your garage/shop/fab area

    Talk to the guys at you local fire dept. They'll tell you what company to talk to and what you NEED for what YOU do.What you need and what a chicken restaurant needs are 2 different items. A body shop gets something different than either of those. A guy who forges knives yet another system.

  16. #16
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    Re: smoke/Fire detectors in your garage/shop/fab area

    Happy top hear there was no damage, other then your garbage can. We have a strict policy in the shop, (we do a lot of vehicles), the first things on the check list, doors/trunk/hood are all opened or unlatched, battery is disconnected, and nothing comes through the door that has a gas smell. We have fire extinguishers approx. every 10 ft' along the wall, and water available in a 35' hose . I know it's still not enough and am constantly checking for stare sparks.......... Ya can't do too much!

  17. #17
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    Re: smoke/Fire detectors in your garage/shop/fab area

    I am not an expert in fire detection technologies but I usually deal with the integration of fire detection systems, Public Addressing Systems, CCTV, Intrusion detection and such... Last week I talked to SIEMENS regarding their analog fire detection systems and he told me, among other things, that their technology allows them to calibrate their detectors individually. He talked me about a few real examples of smoke detectors placed in smoking rooms that DO NOT go off unless a fire is actually taking place. He also talked about detection in industrial environments where dust, smoke and sparks are present.

    If you want to do it right, I would probably try to get in touch with a profesional company (local if possible) and see what they can offer you.

    Mikel

  18. #18
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    Re: smoke/Fire detectors in your garage/shop/fab area

    I think everyone makes good points, consulting a professional should be the way to go. Nevertheless I was curious as to what anyone else was implementing for safety. I'm sure once I do get into a larger shop, a much more serious, professional evaluation will be made.
    I did get a smoke detector which I installed on the lower side of the loft in the garage as that's where most of the wood is of the building... Also installed a fire extinguisher on the same wall as my fab equipment. And got a new metal garbage can. So, already making progress. I still need to pull out the tables where we are stacking things and get some metal shelving and some totes and just do a good reorganizing as I'm really starting to feel cramped and either way, the more organized i can set myself up to be, the better..

    I think it goes without having to learn the hard way, always be prepared for fire if you are doing any fab work. I was very lucky. Some people have not been so lucky.

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  19. #19
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    Re: smoke/Fire detectors in your garage/shop/fab area

    As mentioned before, you can never have enough fire extinguishers. Having a variety on hand can be a life saver too. Dry chemicals are cheap and effective but are HORRID to clean up after, especially on equipment.

    Co2 extinguishers are excellent, but are not good for something like a trash can fire, because (and this is how it was explained to me by a fire service rep) the co2 comes out with such force that in a small enclosed container like a garbage can, it can blow the burning contents out of the container and scatter them before they are extinguished.

    Water extinguishers are great, for grass and trash, but worthless for liquid and electrical, and where freezing is an issue.

    I personally keep 2-10# ABC dry chems, 2- 5# co2, in the garage where I do much of my work. Plus a 5# co2 in my truck at all times.

    As far as detectors go... Heat/fire detector in the garage all day long. I had a smoke detector (hardwired to the rest of them in the house... One goes, they all go) and it was a nightmare.

  20. #20
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    Re: smoke/Fire detectors in your garage/shop/fab area

    Quote Originally Posted by robin811 View Post
    Well my garage gets well below freezing when I don't build a fire in the wood stove. So any water based sprinkler is out. Plus I love diy stuff,
    What about a water based system with a tank that has anti-freeze mixed in it? Also my understanding is that in large water based the above ground pipes are filled with air or nitrogen so that there's no danger of them freezing. When the sprinkler opens, the water pressure blasts the air out and then the water sprays out.

    The problem with dry chemical extinguishers is that the chemical in them will RUIN anything electrical (like welders) and probably a lot of precision mechanical items as well.

    I usually turn off ALL electrical power to my building when I can.

  21. #21

    Re: smoke/Fire detectors in your garage/shop/fab area

    Quote Originally Posted by Birdhunter1 View Post
    You might look into a heat detector system rather than a smoke detector system. Heat detectors often work off the rate of heat rise.... so while it might reach 100 degrees in your garage if the detector is reading 60 degrees and within seconds reads 100 degrees then BAM it is into alarm. It is very common, and code requirement, in commercial and industrial applications especially in mechanical rooms and the like.
    I believe the rate of rise smoke heads could work. Depending on where they are. Some building steam heat systems set them off though. There are heat detectors that are resettable and there are single shot heat detectors as well. They only sense heat, we install them in boiler rooms and places that are over hot and or oily machinery.

    Most of those systems that use rate of rise heat detectors, heat detectors either resettable or single use, or sensitivity adjustable photoelectric heads are mighty pricey.

    I know that Honeywell that makes the silent knight system is working on heads that are independent and offer some of the higher end features. I happened to be in the local electrical supply while they were demonstrating some of the newer combo heads they have for installation in a home. And the fellow was telling me about the next generation heads for homes.

    With an addressable fire alarm system we can set the sensitivity right at the FACP (Fire, Alarm, Control, Panel) for individual addressable heads on a circuit. So you could use a photoelectric head that is often used in plenums and duct sampling or duct detectors because they are less prone to false alarms from small amounts of smoke than the ion smoke heads. You could just turn the sensitivity way down.

    Here are some of the things you can attach to a relatively low cost system. This is a real fire alarm system though. I have worked with them and they are actually pretty rugged and reliable.

    http://www.globalfirecontrol.com/products/category/7

    More than likely though you would want a 135 degree resettable heat detector head. That would probably have to be attached to an addressable network fire alarm system.

    From my own experience I have cut with a cutting torch and not setoff the stand alone smoke detector that is in the basement. And it is working.

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