Up in flames....no pun intended.

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Cymro77

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Fascinating stuff! Thanks y'all for sharing your often hard earned wisdom!
 

deverett

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I remember as a young lad still at school, we could buy magnesium ribbon from the local chemist. It was great fun to ignite it and see the bright white flame! The ribbon (from memory) was about 12" long and because of the cost to us lads, we never thought about trying to extinguish it.

Dave
The Emerald Isle
 

XD351

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Ya don't wear frayed jeans when welding either. I did when working on a hay rake and both legs got lit up. Looked like the dancer in the PI doing the candle dance. No real damage to me as I caught on pretty quick. My dad thought it was funny.
Or roll the legs up to shorten them !
I was up a ladder oxy cutting something off the side of the building where i worked and next thing i know is someone is hosing me ! I though it was a joke until they told me i was on fire ! I used to roll up the legs of my overalls because they were too long and this created a catch point for hot sparks !
At the same company i used to operate a big linisher for polishing rollers , it used to catch fire all the time as the steel dust would ignite from the hot sparks coming off the linishing belt . The hardchrome tanks used to bang every so often and the big tank went bang one day and put a bulge in the tin roof !
 

Cogsy

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I was up a ladder oxy cutting something off the side of the building where i worked
This brought back a memory. Our shift supervisor was up in a man cage on forklift to oxy cut a ladder off the wall. The oxy set was on the ground and got showered in sparks as he was cutting, unnoticed by him of course. In short order the acetylene hose burned through and ignited and we had a nasty fire and explosion potential, so we all turned and began to run instinctively, including the forklift driver who had jumped from his machine. So my poor supervisor was suspended in cage with no way down over a flaming acetylene set! Luckily for him, I realised his driver had bailed and I returned to fight the fire, eventually smothering it with my leather gloves. We laughed about it later but it was scary at the time.
 

Tigercat200

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A friend of mine was an aircraft mechanic since before World War II. When the permanent press work clothes came out his wife bought him a couple of sets. They worked fine until the day he was welding on steel tube airplane with an oxy-acetylene torch. It popped, as they do and he saw a spark hit his leg and he brushed it off as soon as it hit. There was a hole melted in the pants. He shut down the torch, went home, changed into jeans and a cotton shirt, and never wore permapress again. The possibilities of what could have happened were frightening.

There's been mention of dust explosions. Back in the late 70s I was on a rescue squad. We had to have a helicopter put us on the roof of a grain elevator that blew up so we could go down to retrieve the injured. A scary day. Fortunately, elevator explosions are less frequent than they were when I was a boy in Illinois. A grain elevator is a dangerous environment for many reasons.

You all be safe out there.
 

Timehunter

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One of the best kindling pieces for starting a fire is part of an 8" big fluffy old used polishing pad from a bench grinder type polisher.
I had repaired one and had it sitting on the floor way back under the workbench.
Was mig welding and I guess a bb landed on it.
When I finished I kept smelling something smoldering-burning smell.
Found it.
Danged if I didn't do it again a couple days later after I thought I had covered it up enough.
After that it was put on the other side of the shop.
 

MRA

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...he saw a spark hit his leg and he brushed it off as soon as it hit. There was a hole melted in the pants.
I set my groovy nylon (?) steel-toe trainers on fire at work the other day with the plasma cutter - concentrating too hard on trying to keep a straight line. Leather and heavy cotton for me from now on :) And we don't do anything hot for the last hour before home time, just in case something starts to smoulder...
 

Gordon

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My dad was doing some welding at home after he retired. He had never done much welding before that. He came running in the house and told my mother "I know why Gordon wears cotton socks instead of these nylon socks"
 

railfancwb

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Does the powdered alum. and rust pertain to swarf.? Like fine metal dust laying around could be combustible? Or does this apply to airborne particles?
Had no idea about grain explosions and was raised in a farm community. As a boy I worked my share of dusty days on the farm, and with cows the added methane mix. lol Gotta respect the farmers a little more now
Have heard of a situation where aluminum dust had accumulated at a grinding wheel and was set afire by someone later grinding steel at that wheel.
 

railfancwb

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Have heard of a situation where aluminum dust had accumulated at a grinding wheel and was set afire by someone later grinding steel at that wheel.
Stacked square bales which have gotten wet can spontaneously combust. Opening one which is almost there lets the smoke out before it turns to flame.
 

Dubi

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Have heard of a situation where aluminum dust had accumulated at a grinding wheel and was set afire by someone later grinding steel at that wheel.
Very interesting post. That is a new one to me. The question is, why would somebody be grinding aluminium on a wheel?

The only fire which I know about and was non work related was in the UK some 50 years ago. Where somebody used a 9 volt battery in contact with wire wool.

That set off a nice fire and destroyed a factory, the arsonist might have got away with it if was not for the Fire Investigator finding the remains of the battery!
 

Rickus

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Yes! Similar to silos filled with grain, you can get to a point where the dust and air have the right mix and a spark will ignite it. Happened while I was active duty in the Air Force. We had a belt sander close to a grinding wheel and an individual was grinding a tool when the fire erupted. Later investigation reported this was what happened. Aluminum dust collected around the base and lower pulley of the belt sander due to improper cleaning/maintenance, which was located directly behind the grinder. At that time no one knew aluminum would ignite and new safety protocols were instituted. Belt sanders and grinding wheels had to be at least 36" apart and thoroughly cleaned on a weekly basis. Glad this was brought up as I had forgotten this incident...
Now the stacked square bales is a new one to me. I do believe that requires further research. Not to prove you wrong, but to understand what happens and avoid it. There is only one of me and my house which I prefer not to damage or lose!!!
 

mcostello

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Wet hay will combust, barn fires were more common back then. A guy I worked with had put up loose hay in the barn. Went up a while later and it had begun to smolder. He grabbed a fork and started throwing it out on the ground and it was catching fire as fast as He could throw it out.
 

goldstar31

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All this hay stuff is so boring. Heath fires are put out by smothering the fires as are another way to extinguishing incendiary bombs by dropping a turf on top of them.
But think of it rationally, the Germans dropped incendiary bombs which were principally rust from their factories mixed with ground up British bombers which had ironically dropped incendiary bombs on them and we collected German bombers and increased the intensity to create firestorms on such places as Hamburg and Dresden. To keep the pot boiling so to speak, the US Airforce bombed by day and the Royal Air Force bombed the fires. It all became rather nasty because german people were ignited in the same way as those in concentration camps were burned in the ovens- by them. So we killed the perpetrators and somebody else thought it 'What a good idea' and crematoriums were invented.

It makes a change from the good people in Yorkshire singing 'On Ilkley Mor'bat 'at' where my daughter removes teeth and when time comes will organise my demise but not 'for the ducks to eat up t'worms and for the rest of you to be cannibals and eat me- eventually.

I'm afraid that's the way it is.

Norman
 

pkastagehand

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I once worked for an impact trauma research lab. I was milling a mount to hold 9 accelerometers to be able to track multiaxis and angular accelerations. It was with magnesium to keep the mass down. Chips had gotten all over the work so I bent over and blew to clear them off the workpiece. One chip went up and stuck to the high watt incandescent bulb in the work light, caught fire and dropped to the table and ignited those chips. Obviously should have used a different light or had a clear cover to keep bulb away from direct contact. I smothered what went on the floor but couldn't do much about the mill table with T-slots so it just burned out. Lesson learned.

Saved the rest of the chips from the project and bagged them up for starting campfires with wet wood. Worked!

Paul
 

awake

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Someone mentioned wire wool and a 9v battery - I've not had that, but more than once I've made the mistake of leaving a pad of fine steel wool that I've used on cleaning up a project on the work table ... and later doing some welding nearby. It is an interesting thing to watch steel wool burn!
 

Cogsy

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All this hay stuff is so boring. Heath fires are put out by smothering the fires as are another way to extinguishing incendiary bombs by dropping a turf on top of them.
But think of it rationally, the Germans dropped incendiary bombs which were principally rust from their factories mixed with ground up British bombers
Dropping turf on the burning magnesium alloy part of an incendiary bomb will work to extinguish it if the air can be blocked enough, but it will not put out a thermite fire (rust and aluminium oxide) as it supplies its own oxygen from the aluminium oxide. In the incendiary bombs used in WW2 the small thermite charge was just used to ignite the magnesium alloy.
 

goldstar31

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Dropping turf on the burning magnesium alloy part of an incendiary bomb will work to extinguish it if the air can be blocked enough, but it will not put out a thermite fire (rust and aluminium oxide) as it supplies its own oxygen from the aluminium oxide. In the incendiary bombs used in WW2 the small thermite charge was just used to ignite the magnesium alloy.
There seems to be some misunderstanding here. My memory is that magnesium is used to start the exotherm of the intimate and larger mixture of aluminium and iron oxide( rust). My first encounter was at the outbreak of WW2 when we, as frightened little school children of the age of 9 had to watch a Civil Defence member extinguish a standard RAF 4lb incendiary device but worse still go though a 'poison gas' filed air raid shelter wearing our gas masks. It turned out to be tear gas and my father who was in the local gas decontamination squad went into typical Atkinson merriment! That was 80 years ago and whilst I still have my little home made Boy Scout axe that I dug live and partly burnt German incendiaries out for souvenirs along with shrapnel and anti aircraft nose cones, my memory may be at fault.
Wiki whatsit more or less agrees with the fact that thermite, the main ingredient of bombs is a mixture of -as I said earlier. I don't have access anymore to such things but I spent two years in uniform- oddly part in a Royal Observer Corps 'battle dress and then a Royal Air Force one- at where the Royal Airforce Museum is at Colindale- not Hendon and , laughingly, where the RAF Bomber Command Association has its HQ-- in MY bloody office!

So it's a sentimental journey in January to visit the bomb section of the Museum as part of my visit to United Grand Lodge, dinner, a trip too the home of the Battle of the Beams- X-Gerat at Alexandra Palace where the Model Engineering Exhibition is being held. How boring all this compared to- my days- as boss of the Signals billet! No, ironically I was an Admin wonder in a Technical Wing of the RAF and lived part of my life in a Doodle Bugged pre-War building.
Well, I'm now disabled and can run on thermite welded railway lines at a vastly discounted price and the confusion of cheap(er) accommodation in a vastly expensive London is sorted. Hurrah for being a former accountant .
So I CAN afford the time to have a sentimental journey, to walk again where three of my comrades were burned to death in a crash on the Queen's Birthday 21st April 1949.

I don't think that I have forgotten much but we will see. Incendiary bombs are but part of it.

Norman
 
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