Shop Safety Fire Extinguisher

Please review this short article about fire extinguisher in shop. Buy big extenguishers because you want to get a fire out not mostly out. You may balk at the price but what is your home and family worth?

Also date the installation date, time passes quickly. Notice my first aid kit as well.


Just be aware that the dry powder compound is an irritant and isn’t recommended for use in enclosed spaces (and can be a nightmare to clean up):

"…the use of powder extinguishers in confined spaces can severely reduce visibility and affect breathing, so if your workshop is tight on space and filled with equipment, this could hinder escape.

BS [British Standard] 5306-8: section 5.4.3 advises that; “Powder extinguishers should generally not be specified for use indoors, unless mitigated by a health and safety risk assessment.”

I personally would make some effort to fight the fire as best I could, but I am a retired firefighter. However the advice to the general public is to get out and get the fire service out. It’s free in the UK (I assume it is in most places) and they are the professionals, after all. Also, fire services in the UK has a responsibility to report on all fires - whether they attend or not - to the Home Office, so you should notify your local fire service of the fire, even if you put it out. They will probably want to come out and take a look, too.

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In my opinion powder should only used indoors as a get the hell out of the building measure.

My first goto is a CO2 extinguisher, then a foam one or a water hose, powder as a last recourse.

Did a lot of fire training in the military, filled a lot of powder extinguishers, even with protective gear the process is mess, never again.

It’s pita to clean up.

All electronics and metal items in the house will corrode.

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These comments got me to look for fire extinguisher recommendations, and I found several similar reviews to this one. Significant portions and the link to it are included below:

" For your primary fire extinguishers (remember, one on each floor), we recommend the First Alert PRO5."

“Guyette Fire Protection owner Wayne Guyette told us that “two and a half pounds of chemical is two and a half pounds of chemical,” and assistant fire marshal Joseph Keenan said that “the effectiveness of the extinguisher is in how it is used, not the material it is made of.””

[writing about Kidde, a major manufacturer of disposable extinguishers] “… the recall points to the potential failures of an extinguisher with plastic in the valve assembly. For that reason, all of our picks have all-metal valves.”

“A final upside of the PRO5 is that it is easily available on the shelves of Lowe’s, Walmart, Target, and Ace Hardware.”

“To address this problem [corrosive to metals], some manufacturers offer noncorrosive alternatives specifically for the kitchen … but those are rated for only B and C flames (flammable liquids and electrical fires) and not A flames (wood, cloth, and paper).”

“Based on our research, we are not recommending extinguishers by one prominent brand you’ve probably seen at home centers: Kidde, which has a history of defective products and recalls.”

The Best Fire Extinguisher

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I wanted to bring this topic up because we have a lot of new users and some of them are new to woodworking. Safety in the shop is very important. A first aid kit and a fire extinguisher are the bare minimum to have. Having a basic plan of action is very important and should be thought about.

A messy cleanup of your shop I think is better than rebuilding it from the ashes of a fire. A Shapeoko can start a fire if not supervised because of the random things that can happen. I have had tabs reak and the piece get lodged with a router running at 18,000 rpm can cause smoke and where there is smoke there is usually fire. Take a look on youtube for shop fires caused by cnc and it is eye opening.

Just be careful, plan ahead and prepare for the worst and hope for the best. It is like the old seat belt commercials, dont be found dead sitting on your seat belt.


What Guy said…

It is a statutory requirement to have a fire extinguisher in business premises, as they have a legal responsibility to mitigate the effects of a fire, if a fire should start, but it is recommended to have one in a domestic environment, just in case. However, domestic fire extinguishers are only designed for small fires and to help you to get out safely. They re, essentially, disposable, but fire extinguishers designed for commercial use must be tested by a competent person annually (in the UK) and potential users trained how to operate them. Learning “on the job” is not recommended when firefighting!

Might also be worth noting that if you’re using a water based extinguisher which is effective on wood type fires it’s considered good form to hit the E-Stop and cut off the 240V power first rather than doing the “oooh! that tingles!” dance whilst trying to put out your fire.

In modern European houses you’ll probably have an RCD installed which will cut the power fast enough to not be a problem but if you’ve got a VFD, the RCD can’t see the other side of that properly and I’ve no idea what wiring codes apply in North America.


Agreed, i prefer to go with the CO2 option to not destroy the electronics.


Since I often run my machine Lights-Out, I decided to go with an Automatic style fire extinguisher above my Shapeoko. Great peace of mind. (Available at that jungle place)


Use for Class B Fires

What types of fires can be extinguished with carbon dioxide (CO2) fire extinguishers? Class B fires which involve flammable liquids and gases, solvents, oils, greases (excluding cooking oils/greases in depth) tars, oil-based paints and lacquers. Class C fires which involve energized electrical equipment.

Now you have to decide whether you have a wood burning fire or electronics burning fire.

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