The phrase "Krispy Kub" pops up frequently in this forum. Have you safeguarded yourself from cooking a cub?
With fire safety week approaching, ask yourself if your shop and farm equipment are prepared for a sudden fire? I emphasise SUDDEN .
The majority of us have enough sense to keep our shops, barns, garages and work areas as safe as possible, especially practicing housekeeping skills we were all taught over the years to prevent fires.
I never expected to have a fire much less 2 of them, but I did... and not from what I consider a great amount of negligence on my part.
(I don't consider a wad of burning grease or rubber from torch work a fire).
My first fire occurred in the shop after removing the head from a gas inline six cylinder engine.
I thought I'd save some time by cranking over the engine to get rid of the coolant that was laying on top of the pistons instead of soaking it up with rags.
I temporarily connected the battery cable and cranked the engine over several times with the starter, neglecting to notice the fuel line previously disconnected from the carb spewing fuel all over the engine with every stroke of the pump.
Sure enough something sparked, possibly the loosely connected battery cable, and within the blink of an eye, the engine and hood were fully involved.
As I stood in disbelief of what I had just done, a co worker grabbed a dry chemical extinguisher and solved the problem before anything had a chance to melt or paint to blister.
The job was to change a leaking head gasket. It took me about as long to clean the powder mess up as it did to remove and replace the head. So much for saving time.
I was extremely lucky. No damage was done because of the speed of extinguishment due to many strategically placed fire extinguishers around the shop.
Lesson learned: Don't try that stunt again and fire extinguishers close to your work area are a fantastic idea.
Fire number 2 was many years later. Picture for yourself the middle of winter, blizzard conditions, sub freezing cold temperature, the darkness of night. The task at hand was to weld a snow plow angle cylinder back onto its frame.
I had no room in the shop so I was working on the pad in front of the door. There was no way to do a permanent job due to the working conditions and without grinding and cleaning the metal. This was to be only a temporary tack weld to get the truck back on the road.
What I didn't know was the idling truck had a gasoline leak running down the side of the engine and slowly dripping on the snow covered cement pad. I didn't see or smell it and as you can imagine, was extremely surprised to lift my mask to see a roaring ball of fire extending from the ground up into the engine compartment.
I was able to grab the extinguisher from the floor of the truck as I shut it off before dousing the fire.
It was extremely negligent of me not to bring out an extinguisher, but it was only going to take a couple seconds to do a quick tack job. With snow on the ground who would think a spark resulting from a few seconds of stick welding could catch anything on fire that couldn't be snuffed out with a glove or a rag? Or so I thought.
I wasn't so lucky this time. I didn't have to clean up the powder mess because the truck was a beater, but I did have to order some plastic pieces and a couple reservoir caps that didn't survive.
Lesson learned: Never burn, heat or weld without an extinguisher at your side. I follow this protocol to this day.
I hope I am done lighting fires in anything but my grill (which is usually a challenge on most days).
I often wonder why sometimes a gallon of fuel won't get anything but smoke out of a campfire or brush pile but just get near that floor joist in the basement with a propane torch while you're sweating a pipe and... you know the rest of the story.
Getting back to the topic of fire safety in your shop or garage. Fire extinguishers are cheap... Lessons are very expensive.
Protect your valuable cubs along with all your power equipment with an extinguisher mounted to each unit in addition to at least 2 of them in each building you do mechanical work in. (Remember fire # 1, no torch or welder was involved).
Your kitchen and the doorway to the engine room in your home should also be stocked with extinguishers.
I can't stress enough how important it is to have extinguishers of the proper type and size within SECONDS of reach if needed. Both my fires would have been disastrous had fire suppression not been administered within about 10 seconds of ignition. I'm not exaggerating when I estimate 10 seconds... Maybe even closer to 5 seconds.
I don't consider either shop fire I started a result of gross negligence or carelessness, however they did happen and there was nobody to blame but myself.
I have learned a a lot in my lifetime by observing other peoples mistakes or learning about mistakes shared with me after the fact.
I would like to share my mistakes with as many people as possible through this forum who are willing to listen and learn.
Fire extinguishers are cheap insurance for keeping what you have instead of losing it all.
Change those smoke detector batteries this week or when the time changes.
"HAVE ALL YOUR DELIVERIES MADE BY UNION DRIVERS"