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Bikes, Pictures, Stories & more => Chat, Offtopic, Meetings & Everything Else => Topic started by: Brian on 17.11. 2010 04:00

Title: Shed Fire.
Post by: Brian on 17.11. 2010 04:00
This is a warning for everyone.

What we all fear almost happened to me two days ago, I had a fire in my shed but fortunately I had a fire extinguisher, If not I probably would have lost my collection of bikes.

Firstly if you dont have a fire extinguisher get one, if you have one when did you last get it checked to make sure it is still in good working condition. Also make sure it is the correct type to fight fuel and electrical fires and that it is located in the correct position on the door frame where you enter your shed. Never put the fire between yourself and your escape.

In the morning I had been welding at my bench, my shed is made of steel and all the benches and shelving is steel. I had finished welding and turned everything off and after about 30 minutes I went inside for lunch. While I was having lunch I looked out at my shed and noticed a black ring about 2' in diameter on the end of the shed, at first I thought somebody had sprayed black paint on it but then I realised what it was. I went running out to find the whole bench area and the end wall on fire, thick black flames up to the roof. Firstly I turned the main power to the shed off, the switch is just inside the door. I grabbed the fire extinguisher and hit the main flame source which knocked the fire down enough for me to throw the burning stuff out the door. Once I had it all under control I looked to see just what had happened.

About a metre along the bench from where I was welding was a piece of rag and a spark must have landed in it. It had caught fire but it was underneath the power point which had the lead from the welder still plugged in. The power point and lead being plastic started burning, the wiring is all inside conduit which had also caught fire and burnt further along and dripped onto a plastic squirt bottle of CRC (WD40), there was about 500ml in the bottle with a pressure pack can alongside that. The CRC went up and that set fire to everything close. When I went inside for lunch there was no sign of a problem so all this happened in about a 5 minute time span.

I have had to replace a sheet of iron on the end of the shed, rewire that end with its power points and put a new lead on the welder. As you can imagine lots of cleaning, the black soot from the fire made a hell of a mess. I have it all cleaned and repaired now and back to normal. None of the bikes got damaged other than a coat of powder from the extinguisher. As you can imagine I am going to have to re-think where I weld and come up with a area that is for welding only. I also immediately replaced the fire extinguisher with a new larger one.

So the moral of the story is check your fire safety in your shed and like I said if you dont have a extinguisher get one. I came very close to losing everything, if I hadnt of had the extinguisher I think I would have lost the lot, 15 bikes plus tools etc.
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: magicflem on 17.11. 2010 06:01
What a close call Brian.....
Thankfully you were well prepared - a lesson to us all not to become complacent.
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: muskrat on 17.11. 2010 07:10
Gee Brian a close one. Good job you didn't have to go to town for lunch.
That's one of my worst fears, my shed is under my bedroom and a timber house. I have smoke alarms in every room and two extinguishers, one in the shed and one in the bedroom as if I'm awakened by the alarm I need it to get out. Also handy to put the missus out  *eek*.
Glad you and the bikes are ok.
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: RichardL on 17.11. 2010 07:59
A tense story. Glad all is well.

Richard L.
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: Stephen Arsenal on 17.11. 2010 08:21
15 bikes !!!!!! crumbs...Thanks for that warning,I think mine might be way out of date.
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: LJ. on 17.11. 2010 08:36
Phew! Pleased to hear you got that sorted out in time Brian. I'll endorse the necessity in having an up to date fire extinguisher.

Earlier this year I had an engine fire in my campervan. The thing to be aware of apart from the fire is 'panic' I found myself rushing around and fumbling about, even had to take a quick look at instructions as I'd never used one before. All was sorted and okay in the end.
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: orabanda on 17.11. 2010 09:02
Close call - thank god for the "happy" ending!

Years ago I looked at all of the bikes crammed into my shed, and decided that I could not afford to lose one Yamaha!

I put two dry powder extinguishers in the shed; one by each door. I also moved all petrol containers, paint, metho (thirsty work fixing bikes!) into the garden shed nearby.

Not long after, I fired up a plunger GF after a total restoration.

"Fired up" was the right description as a sheet of flame leapt up from the carby area, and burnt my upper body.

I leapt off the bike; the whole thing seemed to be alight!

The fire extinguisher was three paces away; the flames were out in seconds, and my black bike looked like it had been parked in a snowstorm.

The tank must have been moments from blowing. It took weeks to clean all of the dry powder off, but the only damage was some melted wires in the harness!

The cause? The bottom pick-up was not properly in place, and fuel got into the mag.

Now whenever I start a bike after rebuild a fire extinguisher is along side.

Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: bsa-bill on 17.11. 2010 09:12
Glad you got it out Brain and a timely warning as my extinguisher is neither well placed or serviced
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: Brian on 17.11. 2010 09:15
Its not much fun having a fire, it certainly rattled me when I realised just how close I had come.

I built my shed with fire safety in mind, the main power switch board is just inside the door and all my benches and shelving are steel and the shed itself is steel.

I guess I had a couple of points in my favour, I work in the paper manufacturing industry and we do quite a lot of fire training so I am sort of used to putting out fuel fires, but up until now always in a controlled situation. Because of this I was familiar with the extinguisher (dry powder) and how to use it.

LJ raised a good point, if you have an extingisher make sure you know how to use it.

Richard your having two extinguishers is also a very good thing and I will buy a second one now I have had time to think about it. With two extinguishers if someone else is around they can help, there is also a chance if you only have one that it may not work.

I hope to never have to use one again but will still be well prepared.
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: Goldy on 17.11. 2010 11:32
Wow Brian that,s a close call. I built a small corrugated plastic roof outside over the end of my shed and I do all my welding there. I use a small fold up "work mate" bench and put that outside to work on. But I have not got a fire extinguisher anywere so I am going to get one. All the best.
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: MG on 17.11. 2010 11:36
Brian, glad you got away without any major damage, got to have the fire extinguisher checked....
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: olev on 17.11. 2010 11:38
Gday Brian,
All's well that ends well then
I almost posted a similar story about a month ago.
In my case it was a hot air gun being used to heat up crankcases to fit bearings.
Something tripped the earth leakage breaker which disconnected power from the house and shed.
By the time I'd walked to the house switchboard, reset the breaker and returned to the shed, the old towels and rags on the work bench were blazing.
I'd forgotten to turn the hot air gun off and when the power was restored it started a fire very quickly.
I keep a heavy blanket in the shed and threw that over the fire.
The interesting thing was all the bolts, studs nuts etc in or near the fire rusted almost immediatly.
If you need to start a good fire, I'd recommend a hot air gun.

and Orabanda, think yourself lucky you wern't sitting on the GF at the time or you may have grilled the wedding tackle.
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: orabanda on 17.11. 2010 12:14
I WAS straddling the bike at the time, and yes, the chestnuts were roasted!
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: chaterlea25 on 17.11. 2010 13:28
Hi Brian and All,
The consequences of fire damage dont bear thinking about *eek*
Brian, the  fire training really pays off!!
As you said the extinguisher only subdued the fire and you were able to remove the "fuel source"

When I had a job in the powerplant Industry we used to do regular fire training like you
You soon learn that one extinguisher is pretty useless in a lot of situations, and certainly the mickymouse ones should not be relied on *ex*

In the workplace I was in, any welding / cutting /grinding outside the workshop welding bay had to be done under a
"Hot work permit"
This required a "Risk Assesment" beforehand and depending on location several post work inspections or a body staying there for a specified time as watchman!
The latter especially applied to coal /oil fired power plant

At my own place I am very cautious regarding fire and have recently moved all the bikes to a separate new building
(tanks drained!!)
only the bike being worked on is in the workshop. I keep an old workmate outside for grinding operations *ex*

I try not to start any bikes inside especially "unknown quantities"

I have 2, 20lb dry powder extinguisher's and a CO2 one  + a fire blanket in the workshop
and am still uneasy *sad2*

With Fire Prevention  paranoia is essential *ex*

Glad that you and your bikes escaped relatively unhurt *smile*

Best Regards
John O R
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: Hubie on 17.11. 2010 21:40
What a bloody close shave mate!

Very happy that your bikes are undamaged and that the damage that did occur is minimal.  I have a mate over here who had a very suspicious fire quite a few years ago which was not extinguished as fast as yours, and he had about 70 bikes!
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: mike667 on 17.11. 2010 23:33
DAmn i would of had to clean my pants out after that Brian - not from fear of the fire but losing my bikes!
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: A10Boy on 18.11. 2010 13:16
Thanks for the warning. Glad you are OK.
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: Goldseeker on 18.11. 2010 13:50
Bloody 'ell  *eek*, glad all is well.

Fire extinguisher going to the top of the 'to buy' list .
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: terryk on 18.11. 2010 14:29
Im real glad you saw it Brian and didnt leave home for a while it would have been a very sad time for you now thats for sure.
Very good advice about the fire extinguisher.
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: JohnH on 18.11. 2010 16:19
That must have been a real heart stopper Brian. Well done for spotting it and sorting it so quickly .... and for taking and passing on the lessons. Take a pat on the back for turning off the power first too ... always a good approach!

John OR's strategy is very sound in having a separate area for bike storage away from that used for working on a bike and a further separate area for hot work. The only issue I would take up would be fire extinguisher size. The bigger the better basically. A 9kg dry powder extinguisher is used up in 20 seconds or so - therefore a 2 extinguisher strategy is very sound. Dry Powder (BC type preferably)are the right type (although they do make a mess) and as I think you mentioned, they need to go at the door - or on your escape route.

John OR's approach of also having a fire blanket is also really sound as that can be used to smother a fire very quickly without all the mess. Two issues though Learn to use the extinguisher to best effect (loads of info on the net) and get extinguishers with an indicator gauge so that you can see when/if pressure starts to drop ... and do check it regularly!

Glad your bikes are OK - it would have been an absolute tragedy if you'd damaged any of them beyond the dry powder mess (which incidentally is mildly corrosive (sodium or potassium bicarbonate)) - so just as well you cleaned it off quickly.

Salutory lesson for all of us!

Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: melvyn on 18.11. 2010 16:29
Glad You & the bikes are ok *smiley4*
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: Brian on 20.11. 2010 06:20
I hope that by telling my story that you have all had a think about fire safety in your own sheds/garages. etc.

There are four of us that have had fires, me in my shed, LJ with his campervan, Orabanda with his bike and Olev with the heat gun so that shows fires are not as uncommon as everyone would think.

So if you dont have a fire extinguisher go and get one, if you do check it to see that it is in good working order. Make sure it is the correct type for fuel and electrical fires and put it where you can get to it in a hurry, on the door frame as you enter your shed is best. Definitely bigger is better but a small extinguisher is better than no extinguisher. I had one extinguisher and a fire blanket, I now have two extinguishers and a fire blanket.

Fortunately my story had a happy ending, it could have been a lot worse.

So be good little boy scouts, be prepared !
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: A10Boy on 22.11. 2010 16:32
Brian, thanks for the advice. After reading it, I did a bit of a review in my garage, it scared me a bit cos our bedroom is above the garage.

In the garage were;
Three bikes all with fuel in the tanks.
A half full gerry can
three big tins of WD40
A litre of thinners
Half a dozen tins of engine oil
A bottle of Meths- [to keep the cold out]
Gas blow lamp + spare fuel
A bin bag full of old oily rags
Ditto Overalls
Ditto Belstaffs
Two spare tyres
Carpet on the floor near the bench [oily]
No Smoke Detector!!!

All except the bikes are now in the shed away from the house. I fitted a Fire Alarm with a wireless connection to a bedroom sounder. Tested and Working.

I have Fire Extinguishers, a 5 litre water, a CO2, a Small Powder, and an Argon jobbie. I will get a bigger Foam one ASAP. Also, I wont weld, braze or use a grinder in there, I will go outside.

A good reminder, cheers.
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: taroha10 on 22.11. 2010 20:41
Just wanted to add myself as someone who needs to get an extinguisher.These stories are a must for keeping us on our toes.As many of us know, one of the most common times to have a bike in flames is first time you fire up after a rebuild.Those  petrol taps may  have not quite been tightened up enough and are leaking, or the backfire when you have got the timing 180 degrees out!
Thanks Brian for the warning and i'm so glad all bikes ok.
Thanks to you all for your amazing knowledge.I have owned  A10s on and off for the last 30 years and thought I knew alot about them but now I feel I know very little. I really enjoy reading the forum and will sometime add some pics of my own.
Cheers to you all.
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: NickSR on 25.11. 2010 20:41
Hi Everyone

A warning to us all, can I also continue with this thread, Gas Mobile Heater (Propane) are cheap to buy throw out a lot of Heat it also can cause problems.

Two incidents that I know of pin hole in petrol tank, the heater caused vapor jet to light about 2 feet long, quickley put out and spraying with a can (small job) doors closed and well sealed aganist our British winters, resulted in a very short hair cut and no eye brows.

Keep safe
Just going to pop out to the garage and move the 2 fire exinguishers from the top shelf (steps needed) to be near the door.

Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: terryk on 26.11. 2010 13:20
I went and bought a big fire extingisher Brian I'm a convert thanks
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: LJ. on 24.03. 2012 09:57
Lets just bring this topic back up to the top again for the benefit of our many newcomers to the forum... Its a topic that should never be allowed to rest... Did you guys that have no extinguisher go out and get one?? Those of you that do have one, is it up to date?? (Its a year and a half since the last post here!)

And lets not just concern ourselves with shed fires, remember that even when out on your bike an over enthusiastic carb tickle could put your bike at risk. Watch out if you have a pre monobloc with external float chamber they are more prone to overspilling fuel than other types of carburettors.
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: Brian on 24.03. 2012 10:24
Good idea to bring the topic back to give everyone a reminder.

At the time it happened I got stuck into repairing my shed, replacing wiring etc, gave me plenty to do for a few days to get it all sorted.

The worst part was a few days later when I had time to think and realise just what I could have lost. My whole collection of bikes, all my tools,lathe,milling machine etc etc are in my shed, many thousands of dollars worth of bikes and tools. I have had some of my BSA's for over 30 years, My Guzzi for 18 years (I bought it new).

I could have lost it all.

Make sure you have a up to date fire extinguisher of the correct type, make sure it is located by the door so you can get it easily without going into the shed. Never put the fire between you and your exit.

Fire extinguishers are not expensive and they can save so much......................
Title: Re: Shed Fire.
Post by: olev on 24.03. 2012 11:39
As well as an extinguisher, a fire blanket is a good thing to keep handy for smallish fires.
They kill a fire instantly.
Sometimes the extinguisher can cause more damage than a fire.