Installing a Fire Extinguisher - Fire Safety in the Shop

Monday, June 10, 2019

Installing a Fire Extinguisher - Fire Safety in the Shop


June is National Safety Month. In this episode of House of Hacks, Harley shows how to install fire extinguisher to help increase fire safety in the shop. In addition to fire extinguisher installation, he'll take a look at the classes of fire extinguishers and see how well some old extinguishers work even though they expired years ago.

Four pack of fire extinguishers (Amazon affiliate)

Wikipedia page discussing fire classes.
Describes how the different classes of extinguishers work.
Contains the PASS acronym.

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For a written transcript, go to Install Fire Extinguisher - Fire Safety in the Shop

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0 by Kevin MacLeod at
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing"


Fire extinguishers are a great thing to have around both the home and workshop.

Today at the House of Hacks I'm going to see how well these old fire extinguishers still work and install some new ones.

In the process I'll also talk about the different types of fire extinguishers that exist and what I choose to replace my old ones.

Welcome to the House of Hacks!

If we're just meeting, I'm Harley and I make things out of wood, metal and other materials. I also talk about other workshop related topics.

Since June is National Safety Month, today I'm going to talk about fire safety in the workshop.

I have these old fire extinguishers that I've had for a number of years that tend to float between the workshop, the garage and the utility room depending on where I'm working.

But they have a few problems.

First, fire extinguishers are only good for so long. The contents in them have a tendency to compress over time and make them less effective. These fire extinguishers are over twenty years old so they're long past their expiration date.

Secondly, they're really small. Even in their prime when they were brand new, they wouldn't have put out much of a fire.

And finally, they're not rechargeable. This means that, since they're expired, they just have to be thrown away.

To remedy these issues, I got a four pack deal of these new fire extinguishers off Amazon. I'll leave a link below in the description if case you're interested.

These are 1) new, 2) rechargeable and 3) much larger.

By getting a four pack, I'm able to place them strategically around the property in places where fires are most likely to occur.

As DIY projects go, installation is pretty simple.

One thing of note though, the Amazon description says they come with wall hangers.

This isn't quite true. They have a loop on the extinguisher to hang them from but no actual wall hardware.

So I went down to the home improvement store and picked up a pack of simple hangers to hang them from.

Here in the shop, I'm going to put it here on the wall with other personal protection gear.

One right here easily accessible from the stairs, next to the furnace in the utility room.

One here in the utility room that's immediately adjacent to both the kitchen and the garage behind me.

And conveniently, there's a stud located right in the middle of the wall.

And here in the garden shed, I was thinking of putting one right here next to the door.

Here in the shed we have fuel and oil and grass clippings and hot engines.

Seems like a really bad combination and a great place for a fire extinguisher.

There are 5 classes of fire that extinguishers might be designed for.

Class A fires are normal combustibles. Things like trash, wood, paper, and plastic.

Class B fires are where the fuel is flammable liquids or gas. Around the workshop, petroleum based products are the common combustable.

Class C fires are where electrical components are the source of ignition. Things around the workshop include sparking motors, transformers and extension cords.

Class D fires where a combustible metal is actually burning. Examples of these types of metals are things like magnesium, titanium, and aluminum. The latter being what would most commonly be found in the workshop.

And the last class is K where combustion is in the kitchen from a liquids used in cooking. Fats, greases and oils are the typical examples. This is actually a special case of class B that was created for the special and unique properties of kitchen fires in the commercial environment.

The new fire extinguishers are designed for classes A, B and C since these are the most common combustables that are going to be found around the home. I figure we're not going to need anything specialized for the kitchen since we're not in a commercial environment where we have the large quantities and specialized equipment that that class was designed for.

Let's head outside and see how the old fire extinguishers work.

OK, we're out here in this controlled environment: the fire pit.

The fire's starting to go and we're going to test out these old fire extinguishers.

I've never actually used a fire extinguisher, so I've don't have any personal experience with it but there is a handy acronym that's used to describe how you're supposed to use them and it's PASS.

P is Pull the pin.

A is Aim at the base of the fire extinguisher.

S is Squeeze the handle.

And the other S is Sweep across the base of the fire.

The idea is you want to aim at the fuel that's providing the fire, not the flames themselves.

So let's let this get going a bit better and we'll give it a try.

Well, the smaller wood seems to be going really well. I don't know if the big wood is actually going to catch fire. It's large enough, it's kind of getting charred but I don't know that it's actually going to combust itself.

So, let's give this little small guy a try.

So, I pull the pin. It's got a little lever here on this particular one.

And the idea is we aim at the base of the fire and squeeze the handle here and sweep across.

So here goes nothing.

Well, there you can see. Even though that 20 year old fire extinguisher worked fine on this little, tiny small fire of course.

It's still a little bit warm. It didn't cool it down, but it did extinguish it and I can still hear the wood kind of popping a little bit, but it does seem to work.

Like I said, that was for a small fire. It was... so like on a kitchen, it'd probably work fine. You saw that it only lasted for a couple seconds, so I don't think it would have done a real good job for anything of any significant size.

At this point, I'm not going to use the other one because I'm guessing it's probably still fairly decent shape and I'll end up putting it somewhere just as a backup.

I’ll see you in the playlist that's on the screen right now of tips and tricks for the workshop.

When making things, remember...

Perfection's not required. Fun is!