Garage Fire: What not to do

Featuring guest blogger: Rick SolomonGarage Fire

One of my neighbors just had a garage fire and it made me think: this is fire information we should all keep in mind. Plus check that your fire extinguisher is where you thought it was, and that it is still good. The following is what not to do if you smell gas.

My neighbor described the fire: ‘The fire started due to a hole/leak in the hose that delivered gas to a gas dryer. He could smell the gas and he ran his hand over the length of the line to find the hole and turned off the gas temporarily, then duct taped the hose until he could buy a replacement, turned the gas back on and tested the dryer. After running for no more that 60 seconds, the large vent hose caught on fire thus catching the garage on fire.  Luckily they had a fire extinguisher handy and no one was injured.

fire_extinguisher_servicesTwo things he learned.
#1. If you discover a leak in the gas line don’t try to patch it. Replace the line (our 4′ replacement cost $28 at Home Depot) and keep the gas turned off and DON’T use the dryer until then.
#2. Get a bigger (or more) fire extinguishers than you think you need. Time is precious in a fire, and even if an extinguisher doesn’t fully put out a fire, it still give precious seconds until you and your family can escape or until the fire dept. arrives.’

Advice from the neighborhood expert Rick Solomon: Gas inside the home is relatively safe. It gives you the warning you have a leak based on the smell that is emitted. Gas is also lighter than air and dissipates. The problem was when you duct taped it, the corrugated gas flex didn’t allow the tape to fully seal. When the dryer started, there was an electronic glow plug folled by the flame of the dryer. Either 1 of them would be able to ignite any gas leaking in the vicinity of the heat source.

Technically gas is only coming into the house at approx 7″ of water column / approx 1/3 of a pound of pressure. Whereas water pressure is approx. 60-65 pounds within the house.

A simple test for a gas leak is the sniff test or a soap test. Mix up approx 10% liquid soap to clean water in a sprayer bottle. Then spray onto the suspected are of the pipe or connector. A leak will cause the soapy solution to make bubbles. Find the leak and either tighten the connection or shut off the gas serving that appliance. There is no legal miracle tape or glue for gas leaks.

Don’t use any soap solutions that contain ammonia as it will deteriorate some of the pipe and flex connectors we use in plumbing systems.

Rick Solomon from Rick Solomon Plumbing

(310) 836-1437  License # 00743321

Based out of Los Angeles and founded in 1981, Rick Solomon Plumbing is a plumbing contractor and provides plumbing inspection, septic tank services, water purification system installation, and shower installation. They are licensed by the state of California. Rick Solomon Plumbing is insured and bonded. They provide emergency services.

Remember: It’s good to have 1-2 fire extinguishers in the house.

Calgrove Fire Hits Too Close to Home

Last weeks Calgrove fire hit a bit too close to home for me.  My father’s house was directly across from the forested valley on fire.  The news was reporting from his street.  It was very scary stuff.  Thankfully everyone is all right, but it is definitely time to review our emergency preparedness plan.

Calgrove Fire Close to Home
Calgrove Fire Close to Home

I got a call from a friend to turn on the news and knew immediately that Calgrove is my parents’ exit on the Fwy and the main street to their home.  The fire was just south and coming in fast.  I tried to call my dad, but his phone was off while he was working.  I called my stepmom and she had already heard about the fire and was driving home to collect what she could.  Scared and alone.

She wasn’t able to get off at her exit so had to figure out a back way to the house.  (Know the backway in to your house!)  The traffic around the house was awful and anyone else coming to help her in time was unlikely.

We talking about about what is important to grab if you only have minutes to collect your most precious possessions.  It made me think about how I should store my own precious and important documents.

News Reports for Calgrove Fire on my street.
News Reports for Calgrove Fire on my street.

I have a small fire safe that I don’t for a minute think would withstand a real fire, but it is small enough to grab and know that most of my important documents and treasured baubles will be easy to evacuate.  I have all of one year’s tax and working paperwork in one file drawer so I could just grab that drawer.  But, of course, my dog will be number one on the evacuation list!

I don’t have all of my pictures in one place to compile them quickly.  My step mother and I talked about why we had not yet chosen to scan all of our old pictures.  When a fire threatens, you re-think putting those things off.  Here is some info on photo scanning.  I think both of us will be doing this soon.

  • How will you contact your loved ones if there is a fire?
  • Do you have a meeting spot in an emergency?
  • Do you have your treasures in a place that is easy to get to?
  • Do you know where your medications are and do you have extras?
  • What is your best news source in a local emergency?

Here are some other links with more information that might be useful.

Red Cross Wildfire Preparedness

Los Angeles Fire Department

Office of the State Fire Marshal

This is going to a long, dry, hot summer, so be careful out there!