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Old 02-20-2010, 06:02 AM   #1
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Heat Safety Question - Fire extinguisher

Which type of extinguisher should be on site during copper pipe soldering? I've been told in an old home with old lumber in the immediate vicinity of a tight space a CO2 extinguisher can actually push a smoldering fire deeper in and instead you should always have a water extinguisher? Also, I've seen subcontracted plumbers not use a heat shield in this situation with some close calls - I assume any knowledgable plumber would know to use one.


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Old 02-20-2010, 09:42 AM   #2
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Ayuh,... Wood fires are best put out with Water....


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Old 02-20-2010, 10:01 AM   #3
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We have a couple of heat shields lying around the shop... it's usually more trouble to try and pin them up where you want them than to just carefully solder the joint without burning the wood.
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Old 02-20-2010, 10:30 AM   #4
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I always have water at hand & in a spray bottle
I use old drywall as a heat shield
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Old 02-25-2010, 12:42 AM   #5
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Education on this topic

Alan - I posted this question as part of research because last week my beautiful 100 year old house was reduced to ashes because of a plumber who essentially followed your advice. I hope to convince you to educate yourself about proper fire safety because the small inconvenience of using a $10 heat shield is an accident waiting to happen and you can ask our subcontractor who spent hours crying while 7 fire trucks were fighting the fire if he will ever find work again or what his insurance premium will be when they pay out to rebuild our house for their negligence.

At least in MA where my fire happened, the Code of Mass Regulations 527 CMR section 39.00 requires appropriate fire safety to be used which includes use of a heat shield to protect combustibles, and to have a proper extinguisher in immediate vicinity which for soldering is a minimum 4 A:60-B:C. In addition, you and the general contractor are required to have a safety plan in place so that if a fire does occur, you dont have to run to your truck outside to grab your extinguisher like my former plumber did, and you dont delay calling 911 because you though you got it out even though there was a kneewall void right above.

I can't stress this enough - you should have a fire safety checklist before you light a torch, you should use a heat shield no matter how overconfident you are that you will be careful, and you should have a properly sized A rated extinguisher immediately on hand and a plan with your coworkers. I can tell you that no plumber will ever work on my house again until I meet them personally and they can state to me the regulations required for hot work and their safety plan. In the end I will be doing them a favor and prevent them from causing catastrophic loss of property or life. Please dont take shortcuts and learn about fire safety and tell your colleagues.
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