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Thread: Finishes & solvents storage

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Nova Scotia, 45°N 64°W

    Finishes & solvents storage

    Hi Guys
    I'm starting to think the paints, finishes etc in the shop need to be better organized for safety and convenience. I'm also paranoid about fire in the old barn. I've read many times that a metal locker is recommended and I noticed some low (about 4' high) , double door office-type metal cabinets at the local gov't surplus recently. I wonder if that would be adequate for this purpose. What do you use?
    Is a thin sheet metal cabinet really going to give any real measure of fire safety?
    I tried a bit of a search for this, but couldn't really get the right key words to yield any useful links.
    Looking forward to some discussion and advice on this topic.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Peter i have the same type of cabinets in my home so i know what you referring to. I have also been interested in this topic since my fire chief inspector visit.

    Like you i think that merely putting the hazardous stuff in the metal enclosure don't do much in my mind. It would solve the law issue but not the reality.

    Logic says to me that they need to be in a fire proof enclosure which i would say should be such that it is sealed when closed and close properly. The walls I would also expect to be pretty thick.

    The question to me is, are we trying to keep them out of peoples hands, prevent an external fire from accessing them thereby causing a greater fire or possibly an explosion or trying to prevent a fire from spreading if one of the contents of the enclosure combusted.

    Its always been a bit confusing to me.

    Can anyone that is up on this comment?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Delton, Michigan
    contact your local firehouse and talk with a rep there they are trained to know whats right and wrong in fire prevention. i have seen some use a old refrigerator but dont know if that actually passes the test or criteria
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    Checking with you local authorities is a good idea. I also found the below at

    Another fundamental means of fire protection is the use of flammable storage cabinets. The NFPA, OSHA and UFC require flammable cabinets to be designed and constructed to specific requirements.

    1910.106(d)(3)(ii)(a) states that metal cabinet shall be constructed in the following manner:
    Bottom, top and sides of cabinet shall be at least No. 18 ga. sheet steel
    Cabinet must be doubled walled with 1˝" airspace
    Joints shall be riveted, welded or made tight by some equally effective means
    Door shall have a three-point latch
    Door sill shall be raised at least 2" above the cabinet bottom to retain spilled liquid within the cabinet
    Cabinet shall have a "FLAMMABLE—KEEP FIRE AWAY" legend

    These regulations also provide an option for wood cabinets. 1910.106(d)(3)(ii)(b) states that wood cabinets shall be constructed in the following manner:

    Bottom, top and sides of cabinet shall be at constructed of exterior grade plywood at least 1" thick
    Plywood shall not break down or delaminate under fire conditions
    Joints shall be rebutted and fastened in two directions with flathead wood screws
    When more than one door is used, they should have a rebutted overlap of not less than 1"
    Doors shall be equipped with latches and hinges that are mounted to not lose their holding capacity when subjected to fire
    Door sill or pan shall be raised at least 2" above the cabinet bottom to retain spilled liquid within the cabinet
    Cabinet must have a "FLAMMABLE—KEEP FIRE AWAY" legend
    In addition to the requirements listed above, the UFC (Uniform Fire Code) also requires self-closing doors. Most local authorities use one or more of these standards as a foundation for establishing local codes.

  5. #5
    How do the hardware store and auto paint store handle the storage of paint-thinner

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Yeah Ray thats a great point. I brought this up when i had the fire boys here. Said you guys worried about me and solvents but at the Borg its simply on the shelves in open air. Anyone could drop a smoke or a match and set fire to the whole lot. They are also usually clumped together so you have thinners, acetone, varsol etc all next to each other.

    Difference is the Borg goes up in smoke and dont usually affect the house next door and they typically have a fire extinguishing system like sprinklers. So i guess they get away with it that way.

    Thinking aloud .....I aint allowed any form of plumbing in my shop by code.

    I wonder how receptive they would be to letting me put a automatic sprinkler system in. That would get me running water to wash my hands and hey that would also mean i need a drain right? for in the event it misfires and i need to flush the water somewhere.

    Boy i could see the uproard now if i tried this.

    Good subject . Thanks Charlie for the info.

    Do we have any fireman as members?

    I am just thinking aloud but several years ago when i was involved in setting up a computer clean room with raised floor etc, we also used ceiling mounted extinguishers that would automatically trigger if need be and fill the room with a certain gas. I cannot remember the gas type but the size of a shop and the size of one of those computer rooms has me thinking this could be a proposition as a risk management device.
    Last edited by Rob Keeble; 04-29-2010 at 04:56 PM. Reason: Add

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Nova Scotia, 45°N 64°W
    Thank you guys.
    That's some good, factual information, as usual. It sounds like the gov't surplus "office supplies cabinet" wouldn't really provide any fire security, just be a neater place to store stuff. I will talk to my buddies in the fire dept.
    I do recall a Fine Woodworking article on this topic a while ago. Someone had built a double-walled cupboard out of fire-rated drywall, double walled, etc. It had a self closing door that dropped down. From the pictures, it looked like an awkward set-up, but I might dig it out again for a second look.
    The specs that Charles posted are interesting. I was surprised that a wooden cabinet was acceptable.
    Thanks again. Have a great weekend.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    im a firefighter and from where i stand on this i want to know what and where more than anything else. the 10 little propane tanks, the little green oxygen three foot tall in the corner. i guess my point is we / anyone can get hurt if something happens and we dont know what we are getting into. most stores here have been walked thru and we do what is called pre fire planning, we know what is where and the layout we even go as far as figuring out how much water it will take to put out. its freds barn that is scarry we found a box of old tnt at one fire. that will make your back side pucker.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    Quote Originally Posted by larry merlau View Post
    i have seen some use a old refrigerator but dont know if that actually passes the test or criteria
    That sounded like a good idea Larry. So I went looking and:

    "It is unsafe to store flammable liquids in domestic refrigerators or freezers. Explosions, injuries, and costly laboratory fires have resulted from this dangerous practice."


    Apparently their are "Flammable material refrigerators and freezers" designed for the purpose. Maybe that's where folks got the idea that all fridges were OK(?). With a qualifying metal box to hold the small amounts I have on hand tipping the scales at $500 and up, I will have to really look into this one.

    I found an article on building your own storage cabinet for flammables. It said "Do not try to build your own storage cabinet for flammables". Not really what I was hoping for. No one wants their shop burned down (or even their neighbors azaleas for that matter) but, should safety cost as much as a good drill press? Maybe so; good discussion.
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 05-01-2010 at 03:07 PM.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    The Heart of Dixie
    I have been thinking on this too and a can of ___ is not going to burst into flames without a hot heat source. So the cabients could only be to help prevent the spread of fire by (I assume) protecting the solvents from the heat for a least a while.

    I have many cans of combustable 'stuff' and I to have wondered about. I try to thin it out as much as I can but there is always stuff that you just don't want to toss.
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    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
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