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"Non-fire extinguisher" type powder for runaway fires ?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Robbie, Nov 1, 2007.

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  1. Robbie

    Robbie Minister of Fire

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    After just reading a recent thread about a runaway fire..........and after my "backwards" damper installation mistake, (see link below for thread on this).

    I wondered if there are any powders besides fire extinguisher powders a person can easily get to to throw on a runaway fire to help slow it down........nothing big just a few handfuls of something.

    Damper cleaning/installation mistake,

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/10247/


    Robbie

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  2. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Baking soda. Two boxes for a buck at the dollar store.
  3. GVA

    GVA Minister of Fire

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    baking soda I heard works on grease fires...... Maybe on other fires as well.... But not 100% sure...
  4. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    A fire fighter posted here last year recommending it. Got two boxes within reach of all three stoves after watching the big Sierra try to melt down twice last year.
  5. MrGriz

    MrGriz New Member

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    Baking soda should do the trick just fine. I would think that sand would be a good alternative as well.

    I'm wondering if it's a good idea to open the door with a runaway going in there. Wouldn't that feed the fire with a sudden blast of air and add to the combustion? Would it make more sense to just shut the air down completely and call the FD?
  6. Robbie

    Robbie Minister of Fire

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    I did open mine to stir it to try to tame it...........it did make it worse but made me feel better.

    You get a REAL scared feeling wondering if your stove is going to get too hot....luckily mine did not and my few small pieces of popular burned up quick allowing my stove to cool from about 600 to 300.

    But that roar for a few minutes with absolutly no control was pretty scary (Damper installed upside down) :red: .

    So I made up my mind this will NEVER happen again.

    I Robbie hereby promise to double check my damper and all controls on my stove with the first fire of every season by using only a few small pieces of wood, thereby allowing me complete control of my stove at all times.........I swear ! %-P

    Baking soda it is..........I will practice this method outside on a fire soon and let you know the results.


    Robbie
  7. JohnnyBravo

    JohnnyBravo New Member

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    i have the plan in my head. shut down the air run outside and stuff a shirt in my oak. i have done some slight modifications to my stove and as near as i can tell i have sealed up all other points of air entry
  8. kwburn

    kwburn New Member

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    what does stuff a shirt in my oak mean?
  9. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    OAK is outside air kit. His stove draws air from outside the house. Won't do much good with an EPA stove since they have to be able to pull air with the primary inlet shut completely down and you can't shut off the secondary combustion air supply.

    Best to know where that secondary burn air intake is and have a heavy piece of tin foil handy.
  10. RonB

    RonB Feeling the Heat

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    I had a chimney fire a couple of years ago and I am so glad I had quick access to a couple of fire extinguishers. One is a 5# and the other a 2 1/2 #. Wasn't much chemical left when I had them refilled. Boxes of baking soda may sound good in theory, but when you are in the midst of a roaring chimney fire, and all the things you normally to do limit the fire don't and won't work, and then your adrenalin really starts pumping, and you start to panic, and while you are working to get the fire out at the same time your trying to decide should you bail out and run for it--well, you get the idea. It is safer and easier to grab an extinguisher and pull the trigger. Don't be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to fire safety. Everyone who owns a wood stove needs a handy fire extinguisher!! No room for wiggle on this one.

    Forum members are really good about putting safety first when it comes to setting up the stove and chimney to prevent fires and tragedies. However, we are missing the mark if we don't emphasize the need for an approved fire extinguisher within easy access.


    EDIT: Sorry I missed the point that it was a runaway stove fire and not a chimney fire.
  11. JohnnyBravo

    JohnnyBravo New Member

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    all combution air comes from the pedistal of my stove i have sealed all other ways into the pedistal. the secondary air should be gone when i block the inlet. next big fire i will give it a shot and report back.
  12. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Agree on chimney fires. Had a few of them over the years. What the OP asked about is a run-away stove. Different animal.

    And I betcha I have seen two run-aways that you never want to be within a mile of. Six hundred and fifty pounds of glowing steel in your family room.

    911 punched in on the phone and waiting to hit "dial".
  13. hardwood715

    hardwood715 Feeling the Heat

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    BB, that wasn't when you ran out of wood, and then went to plan B- burning the kiln dried living room furniture, was it? I hear those foam cushions really heat up quickly!
  14. n6crv

    n6crv Feeling the Heat

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    Hello, I have read somewhere that you can cut a hole in the flue pipe and braze a 1/2 brass pipe nipple in it. You would normally keep it cover with a cap. Then if you have a runaway or chimney fire just pull the cap and stick the end of the fire extinguisher in and shoot. That way all the mess stays in the system.
    Don
  15. lvfd50

    lvfd50 New Member

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    I have a friend and fellow firefighter who always keeps a supply of these flare type things. They are specifically designed for chimney fires. You basically light it and throw it into the fire and shut the door. They are also kept on the fire trucks for this purpose. I was told that they work good and can be picked up at a local stove shop, but have never personally used them.
  16. n6crv

    n6crv Feeling the Heat

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    Hello Lvfd50, sounds like you are talking about Chimfex. If can believe this one the company that made them burnt down. I got lucky and picked up a couple and never have had to use them.
  17. bcnu

    bcnu New Member

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    Just picked up two small extinguishers yesterday for general use. Looking for something smaller, hopefully quicker/easier to use. near the stove. They had something in an aerosol type container - like a big can of hair spray - but I wasn't sure it would do the trick. I'm going to check out the flares and also see what the stove shop might have. Meanwhile, baking soda it is.
  18. Jay H

    Jay H New Member

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    Let me guess... Chimney fire? :D


    Sorry, couldn't resist.

    Jay
  19. firedog

    firedog New Member

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    For chimney fires, someone told me to throw a glass of water into the fire box. The steam will put out the fire. you just have to be carefuf not to throw too much in, it could crack the stove.
  20. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    VERY BAD IDEA!!! You risk cracking the stove as mentioned - it doesn't take much, just a few drops in the wrong place. Worse is that the water can flash into steam and produce an EXPLOSION that can cause you to be scalded, and blow chunks of burning wood all over your stove room - you just made your problem far worse...

    Remember that the stove is a strong metal box, you don't want to do ANYTHING that risks damaging the box or getting the fire out of the box. As long as the fire stays in the box, you may junk the stove, but your odds of not burning the house down are pretty good.

    I would not advise opening the doors and leaving them open while poking at the fire, that is likely to make the situation worse by adding more air. However opening the door just long enough to lob a container of DRY fire fighting material, whether it is fire extinguisher powder, baking soda, sand, or similar, into the stove, then closing the door again seems like a worth while tradeoff.

    I am not comfortable with the idea of dumping a pressurized fire extinguisher into the stove though - it would require leaving the doors open more than I like, and I would also be concerned about the possibility of the back blast from the extinguisher blowing sparks and embers out of the stove - remember what I said above about keeping the fire in the metal box....

    Gooserider
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