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The Dangers of Garage Fires


A garage fire is usually considered a simple fire, especially if it is not attached to a residence. A couple handlines, maybe force a door and it's about over. 

We don't usually go to the roof because once we open the overhead door we have all the ventilation we need.  We like garage fires for the same reasons we like car fires, we get to put out some fire, but we don’t have to deal with all the clean-up. As simple as a garage fire sounds there are also some very serious things to keep in mind next time you head to a garage fire.

When you think of a garage you picture a nice clean building with an overhead door, inside are parked two nice cars, and maybe a couple bikes and a set of golf clubs.  A nice place out of the weather to keep your cars and a couple things.  If you walk through a garage and take a closer look you will find a lot more than you expected.

I probably store a little more in my garage than most people but a quick walk through my garage found propane, (lots of it) gasoline, spray paint, paint thinner, pesticides, and a few gasoline engines on lawn mowers, a weed wacker, power washers, and an ATV.  Each of these provides its own dangers.

In my garage I have two 20 pound propane tanks that go with my grill.  I also had seven smaller propane tanks for the camp stove, bug fogger, and lantern.  Also in my garage are two six gallon gas cans, and three smaller gas cans, all with some gas in them.  I have dealt with some plastic gas cans in garage fires.  Usually you wil find them to be the reason that fire on the workbench or in the corner of the garage won't go out.  When you grab one accidentally with the pike pole or step on it the fire will flare up and it becomes obvious that it is burning gasoline.  Propane tanks that overheat and blow the relief valve are pretty scary as well especially when the are whistling and shooting out flames.

Those lawn mower engines sometimes are made of magnesium which will flash a bright white light  when you hit them with a hose stream, they can be difficult to put out, but a lot of water will eventually cool them off enough so you can put them out. Gas tanks on those mowers also adds to what is burning in a garage fire. We collect a lot of lawn tools, and a lot of them are powered by gasoline. We always have at least two gas cans in the garage. 

Some residential garages look more like an auto repair shop.  Some of these garages have acetylene torches, and oxygen tanks.  There may also be large amounts of spray paint, body filler, and paint thinner of they do body work. 

Take a couple minutes to go through your garage and see how the things in your garage would react to fire.  While you are at it look around and see if you have a smoke detector in your garage.  Odds are there isn't one there.  Maybe that’s why garage fires get such a head start on firefighters.  Garage fires can be fun even when things blow up, flare up, and push you back from the intense heat.  Just remember that stuff in the garage and be ready for the unexpected. 

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