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Practical TIG Welding: Fire Risks

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Fire Risks


00:00 - Unfortunately fire risks are a major concern with any form of welding.
00:04 Accidents do happen and we need to be prepared for the worst case scenario.
00:08 Fires can start from the heat emitted from the weld torch, sparks from the welding process or combustable liquids within the parts that we're welding.
00:17 The best form of fire prevention in the workshop is care and preparation so before welding make sure that your workpiece and the work area are free from flammable items like rags, saw dust, paper work, fuel and any other flammable liquids.
00:32 Although the TIG welding process won't produce the amount of molten weld spatter that the MIG welding process will, we can still from time to time expect a drop of molten metal exiting from our weld area.
00:45 This molten metal can hit the ground and spray along the floor and many workshop fires will be the result of these sparks smouldering within something before catching alight, potentially hours after you've finished the weld.
00:57 It's important to assess the workshop and your work area to make sure that you're not putting yourself, your home garage or your workshop unknowingly at risk.
01:07 The number one rule in setting up your weld area is to maintain a clean and uncluttered workspace that's free of flammables but when working on vehicles, it's just not practical to remove the interior or the entire fuel system to perform every fabrication job, so we need to take great care in isolating the risk by ensuring that the main hazards are understood then sealed and protected during the fabrication process.
01:33 This means that breather tubes, filler necks, fuel lines and leaks need to be cleaned, sealed and isolated before starting our work.
01:40 It's common to use weld blankets to cover up these and other items that we can't remove from the vehicle.
01:47 Weld blankets are fire retardent blankets that have traditionally been constructed from heavy leather but more recently made from woven fibreglass blends.
01:55 These blankets can withstand upwards of 1000°C and are a great form of protection.
02:01 As an example, a molten ball of weld will simply sit on the top of the blanket without burning through.
02:07 If we didn't have this protection and we had the same molten ball of weld land on a seat, then it would burn through the multiple layers of the seat's construction and cause a real risk of a fire within it.
02:18 These weld blankets can also be a valuable addition to the protection of the windscreen and other glass in the car.
02:24 As we've mentioned, we can still expect the occasional molten ball of weld exiting the TIG welding process and if these contact the glass then they'll absolutely damage the surface.
02:34 Mobile welding screens also play an important part in our fabrication workshop.
02:39 You might have seen these in large industrial workshops to partition off one weld operator from another.
02:45 Not only do they protect an onlooker's eyes from the ultraviolet light being emitted, they also offer a barrier to protect our surroundings from weld spatter and grinding dust.
02:55 If you have a dedicated weld bench, it may be a good idea to permanently attach a few to a curtain rail for a quick setup.
03:01 Even with these precautions in place, we still need to prepare for the risk of a fire by making sure that we have suitable fire extinguishers on hand should we need to put one out.
03:11 When choosing a suitable fire extinguisher, we need to consider which will be the most suited to our motorsport workshop requirements.
03:19 There are 5 categories of fires classified according to the type of fuel source.
03:24 Class A fires include wood, cloth, paper, plastics and rubber while Class B fires are flammable and combustable liquids like petrol, ethanol blends, diesel and oil.
03:35 Water must never be used on a Class B fire.
03:39 Class C fires are combustable gasses like LPG, CNG and propane and isolation of the fire is the only safe way to extinguish it.
03:48 Class D fires are combustable metals like magnesium, aluminium and sodium.
03:54 Class E fires are electrically energised equipment fires and it's important to understand that water must never be used on electrical fires as there's a real risk of electrocution.
04:05 Lastly, class F, specifically covers oil fires and blankets are the most effective in these situations and recommended in conjunction with extinguishers.
04:14 Every fire extinguisher is classified by the class of fire that it can be used on and it will clearly say so on the outside of the extinguisher.
04:22 There is some overlap between the classes like B and F for example but the most commonly used fire extinguisher in the motorsport fabrication industry is an ABE type which can be used for classes A, B, C and E.
04:37 It's essential to have at least one of these that can be easily accessed in your workshop or garage.
04:42 There's also a lot of different sizes when it comes to choosing a fire extinguisher and the size is defined by weight.
04:50 It may be tempting to choose a smaller extinguisher in the 1 to 2 kg range however they're very limited in the size of the fire they can put out.
04:58 It's best to pick up a 9 kg extinguisher which should be sufficient to deal with most workshop emergencies.
05:05 Really the most important thing to take away from this module is that when it comes to safety and fire protection, it's crucial to understand what kind of fire you might be dealing with and that you have the right equipment to avoid any disasters.
05:19 Whether that means a full blown workshop fire or simply a damaged windscreen.
05:24 Remember you never think it'll happen to you until it happens to you.

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