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LP Tank and Fire Inspection


#1

To all you who use LP and Oxygen for your torch, have you ever asked
your town Fire Inspector if you’re allowed to have this
explosion-waiting-to-happen in your shop?

Ray


#2
Who Cares what "they" think.!?!? Put it in, take proper
precautions, always be aware and keep on keepin on with what you
gotta do. Why even open that can of worms! "Tis often better to ask
forgiveness than ask permission." 

Well, it was a rhetorical question. I already know the answer. The
answer is that it’s not allowed anywhere. LP tanks are so dangerous
no sane person, if he knew just how deadly these things are, would
EVER have a LP tank inside a shop! I refuse to work in any shop, or
even visit any shop where LP torches are being used.

http://www.brucegoldfarb.com/propane.htm

Never take an LP-GAS tank inside any building or dwelling, even
momentarily.

http://www.deq.louisiana.gov/portal/tabid/2088

IF LP GAS IS PRESENT OR SUSPECTED:

- DO NOT attempt to find the cause yourself;
- DO NOT try to light any appliance;
- DO NOT touch any electrical switch;
- DO NOT use any phone in your building.

- Leave the house immediately and make sure your family and pets
leave= also. 

- Leave the doors open for ventilation and contact the gas
supplier, a qualified service agency or the fire department. 

- Keep the area clear until the service call has been made, the
leak is corrected, and a qualified agency has determined the
area to be safe.

#3

All fuel gases are an explosion waiting to happen. LP also known as
propane is viewed as somewhat more dangerous due to its slightly
heavier than air specific gravity. However acetylene can blow you sky
high if it is allowed to exceed 15 psi in its gaseous form and from a
chemical point of view much more unstable and likely to spontaneously
explode than propane. Natural gas is responsible for more deaths then
either of the two previous gases due to its ubiquitous nature. I
guess what I am saying is you must absolutly treat all fuel gasses
with the proper respect for the explosive energy potential present in
them. As to your fire marshal their response will be driven first by
local code so you need to find out if LP tanks are allowed in shops
in your area. Second they will want to see that the tanks are
properly secured and that you have the appropriate safety devices
like fire extinguishers and possibly they will look for flashback
arrestors. But if your equipment is properly installed and is allowed
by local code there should be no problem.

Jim

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#4
To all you who use LP and Oxygen for your torch, have you ever
asked your town Fire Inspector if you're allowed to have this
explosion-waiting-to-happen in your shop?

I don’t like sitting on a 20Lb propane bomb so I use 16oz disposable
bottles. Puts out enough volume for everything but very heavy silver
bracelets and it meets code.

Its expensive though, costs about $20 a year instead of 7, yeah, I’m
real worried about that.


#5

Ray,

Usually LPG tanks are stored osutside with proper approved plumbing
to the appliance using it. Said appliance can be a stove, heater or
Torch.

In the residential domain, LPG tanks are always outside with
plumbing to the device using the gas

In the Industrial Domain, that is not always so. Take a look at the
average non electric forklift or construction heater, they are
propane powered. There are specific restrictions and installation
procedures for any compressed gas that need to be followed and
observed

In reference to the 2 websites you quoted The first is a nice picture
of a gas explosion, Yes this one may have been propane, however the
same risk also occurs with any other flammable gas, be it acetylene
or “Natural gas” There have been many more similar explosions caused
by natural gas than propane.

The second refers to the smell of gas as in gas that is present in
the air, not present in a tank.

Yes I will agree that Propane has specific risks, mainly being
heavier than air and having a tendency to accumulate in low lying
areas or basements.

Acetylene, Hydrogen and natural gas also have specific, but
different risks.

Any installation should be done so has to observe fire codes and a
proper risk analysis should be made before any installation (or
action is taken) with any substance that may pose dangers.

But I will say again, inflammatory fear mongering and wrong headed
ideas is not the way to do it. Acquire knowledge, if need be hire the
knowledge (that is why engineers and architects exist). Note unless
a person has an underlying training I do not consider a fire
inspector the last word in fire safety. In many jurisdictions it is a
political appointment, and the so called inspector is merely
parroting what they have read or been told in a seminar, without
knowing if they are true or accurate.

In North America, the NFPA publish excellent publications on all
aspects of fire prevention if you wish to study the subject. Many
good fire codes are based on the NFPA model code and documentation.


#6

Ray, Neither of your links would parse!

Also, While I respect LP gas and do not want in any way to
trivialize its danger, I believe your comments a bit too forceful.

I have been using LP gas in my garage shop for many years with no
problems. Same with acetylene. Is that to say nothing serious will
never happen? Of course not. But, I also drive my car on the
dangerous streets and roads of South Florida every day and, believe
me, the chances of a serious accident in that jungle are a lot higher
than problems with LP gas! Please do not enjoin me not to drive…it
is necessary to what I do…the same with the gas.

Cheers from Don in SOFL


#7
Well, it was a rhetorical question. I already know the answer. The
answer is that it's not allowed anywhere. LP tanks are so dangerous
no sane person, if he knew just how deadly these things are, would
EVER have a LP tank inside a shop! I refuse to work in any shop, or
even visit any shop where LP torches are being used. 

It is allowed lots of places but you must check with your local fire
code and insurance provider to determine if it is ok in your
location. If you think acetylene is any safer go ask your welding
supply for some of the wonderful pictures they probably have to show
why you don’t want to carry your acetylene tank in your car or in an
enclosed van. While you are there ask to see the other safety photos
they have to show just how dangerous any compressed fuel gas or
oxygen tank is. A couple times a year you will read about explosions
and fires caused by leaking natural gas. All fuel gases are
explosive. It doesn’t matter which one they all can kill you and
others and make a big mess when they explode. One reason LP is
dangerous is any idiot can go down to the big box store and buy a 5
gallon tank and go down to the local gas station to get it filled
and never encounter any safety and handling instructions or safety
training. Safety with fuel gases requires knowledge training and
constant vigilance. So if you think just because you don’t work with
LP that you are somehow safer you are just fooling yourself because
the safety precautions to safely work with LP are the same ones you
need to handle any fuel gas safely.

How many of you have and use leak check liquid to see if your tanks,
valves and fittings are leak free? Do you use it after each time you
change tanks or connect hoses? When is the last time you examined
your hoses for wear or cracking?

Jim

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#8

Me Me!! I have soapy water on my bench shelf !! I lost a friend to
an acetylene tank he worked for a Pittsburgh Glass company and his
job was to care for and refill tanks. We lost Rick during a
’standard’ refill. That was the worst news I have received since
9-11. His widow is doing well now after a few years, but I still
think about Rick everytime someone discusses safety.

If you do the safety inspections as part of your regular routine it
becomes a natural thing and you won;t forget or think twice about
doing it each time you go near your torch to change out a fitting or
anything. Check it…soapy water is cheap.

Teri
Silver & Cameo Heritage Jewelry
www.corneliusspick.com


#9

Please tell me. What, if anything, is different about the safety
factor of using an oxy/propane torch with vigilant care verses the
widespread use everywhere of propane fueled BBQ grills, indoor
propane fueled heating logs, ovens etc.? Such grills are also used in
opened garages and enclosed patios. Wouldn’t a room with opened
windows be as safe? Should the propane tank and oxy tank both be
stored outoors with lines running in? Is it safe to keep an oxy tank
outdoors exposed to the elements?

I have many questions as I have been procrastinating setting up my
own oxy/propane system. I have whiplash due to so much opposing
advice. Help!!! I feel defeated before I begin.

Cyndy


#10
Me Me!! I have soapy water on my bench shelf !! I lost a friend to
an acetylene tank he worked for a Pittsburgh Glass company and his
job was to care for and refill tanks. 

I am sorry to hear of your friends accident. Glad you check your
tanks, but please no soapy water on oxygen tanks. Only use a leak
detector fluid that is certified for oxygen service on oxy tanks.

Jim

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#11

Hi Cyndy

Please tell me. What, if anything, is different about the
safety factor of using an oxy/propane torch with vigilant care
verses the widespread use everywhere of propane fueled BBQ grills,
indoor propane fueled heating logs, ovens etc.? Such grills are
also used in opened garages and enclosed patios. Wouldn't a room
with opened windows be as safe? Should the propane tank and oxy
tank both be stored outoors with lines running in? Is it safe to
keep an oxy tank outdoors exposed to the elements?

I quite understand your question but you left out: mobile homes,
boats, repairmen toting their gear from one place to the next, hot
air ballons, propane fuel refridgerators and the list goes on… As
you propose, if the user takes good care of the equipment and, being
aware of the potential risks (not as some say “dangers”) check all
parts regularly, then it will be less risk than many other everyday
propane sites. Actually, it will be safer than crossing the street.

Often people worried about propane are not keen on any gas that
comes in a tank. All safety rules have been on Orchid several times
this year so look in the archives.

My rules:

1 Cap on tank during ALL transport, no tank is ever empty!

2 All tanks are used in upright position.

3 All connections and hoses are checked when exchanging tank AND
weekly. Valves and regulator should feel “smooth” in action. Use
leak detector aerosoles or soapy water and smell for odor, feel the
hoses (should feel like new). Natural gas and propane are odor
detectable. There are electronic devices to this as well.

4 Turn off all tanks at the end of day and put away. I have my
routine: pickle off, exhaust off, gas off, tank “off”, visual check,
lights off then me off home!

5 Never use old and illtreated gear. New rubberhoses don’t cost
that much and they do deteriorate with time. Regulators are a bit
pricier but can be repaired.

I’m sure I left something out but this is how I do things, still not
to old to learn.

When I did our first installation, I spent lots of time at the
fueldepot (where we get gas) asking questions and they happily
educated me. Today we use two 25 lbs propane (one with a fixed
lowpressure regulator and one regular), one 11 lbs acetylene and two
11 lbs oxygen, all safely stored in a airthight but ventilated,
steel cabinet when not in use. Vented by a small squirrelcage fan to
the outside, suction at floorlevel (very important) and fan made of
aluminium (sparkfree - very important).

If you wonder about the sizes it just happens to be the most popular
tanks in this country (=good economy and availability).

I don’t think you should do all of this since you won’t be handlling
that many tanks. Ask at your supplier or a plumber AND research
Orchid.

With knowledge you gain wisdom, insight and understanding thus
defying anxiety of the unknown.

michaela


#12

IMHO, propane or LP while being (I believe) very much more dangerous
than ace (mainly due to the nature of the tank construction) just
doesn’t get hot enough. In spite of opinions to the contrary, if you
don’t get a fire inspector to OK your setup, if there’s an accident
your insurance won’t pay.


#13

Cyndy,

Please tell me. What, if anything, is different about the safety
factor of using an oxy/propane torch with vigilant care verses the
widespread use everywhere of propane fueled BBQ grills, indoor
propane fueled heating logs, ovens etc.? 

OK, people will say if you maintain your system well the risk is
low. The gas has an odorant to alert you to a leak. Fine, with
diligence you may not have a problem while you’re there working. The
reason the fire department disallows 20Lb propane tanks is the risk
of explosion or major flare during a fire. I don’t know the
legalities of it but maybe the person who stored illegal tanks could
be held civilly or criminally liable should a fireman be hurt or
killed while responding to a fire in your shop. Plus all your stuff
gets toasted. Plus your landlord (or his insurer) may sue you for
damage to his building. And you could be out of business. Or worse.

So jewelers take all that risk for convenience and lower cost. Not a
smart business decision IMHO.

So what are your options?

If your needs are small, disposable 1lb bottles work well,
regulators to fit are in the area of $50. Oxy tanks are legal inside
(in my area) or go with disposables here too.

If you’re doing larger work use an outside source, city Natural Gas
or external propane tank. Have a professional run the gas line, its
much the same as for your oven or water heater.

If you still want to go with the 20lb its a simple matter to keep
the tank outside and run braided steel gas hose into the building
(which, if you read the instructions, is what gas appliance
manufacturers say you should do, consumers skirt that frequently
because, “It can’t happen to me”.

Hope this helps.


#14

Hi Cyndy

I have many questions as I have been procrastinating setting up my
own oxy/propane system. I have whiplash due to so much opposing
advice. Help!!! I feel defeated before I begin. 

That is exactly how I feel too. I really hope to get some answers to
your questions so we can both move forward. I am totally stuck.

Thank you for putting it out there.

Kim


#15

All fuel gasses present potential fire and explosion hazards.
However there are safe handling procedures for them that have been
developed over time. The stoves and fireplaces, water heaters etc
that are run on propane are installed by professional tradespersons
that have had training in how to safely plumb these items into a low
pressure ( less than 1/2 psi) supply line. Their work is inspected by
the city or state to assure compliance with building safety codes.
Because of this the number of accidents involving these systems is
fairly low. When you start using higher pressure portable systems
like our torches then the number of places where there can be a
problem increase. First we constantly disconnect and reconnect the
parts of the system like the supply tanks, second we use flexible
hoses that often get abused and dont get inspected often if ever and
thirdly the torches run at 10-100 times the line pressure of an
installed LP gas system to run appliances. None of this means you
cannot run the system safely but it does require a much greater
knowledge and vigilance to do so in comparison to that LP kitchen
stove. Go to your local welding supply they have lots of experience
in safe handling of these cylinders and can make recommendations.
Read up on the topic by checking out some books on oxy fuel gas
welding and reading the safety sections.

As for keeping the cylinders outside, yes that is certainly doable.
To be in code compliance you need to get professional plumbers
involved in the installation and will need a permit to install them
in most places.

Jim

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#16

Hi Cyndi,

The big difference that I see with propane is that the tank is
ordinarily kept outside. You may have noticed this is common to RV’s,
trailers, mountain cabins, and even outdoor grills. So, if you want
propane for your shop, put the tank on the outside of the way and run
the appropriate piping. I’d keep the high pressure tank of oxygen
inside.

Propane must have excellent ventilation for the tank. The usual
exception is the tiny non refillable tank that screws on a camping
grill.

The fumes from the flame are not any worse than acetylene or natural
gas or methane. Good ventilation (a hood and fan) is needed to get
rid of the heat and metal fumes. Hydrogen of course produces only
heat and water.


#17

Forgive me if I missed this or if I am misinformed: Large propane
tanks have a relief valve that can open if the tank is very full and
the temperature is high. In addition the gas is dense and when
released will stay at floor level. I do not believe that the acet.
tanks have this kind of relief valve. Certainly the safest way to use
this is to store the tanks outside.

Charles Friedman DDS
Ventura by the Sea


#18
Only use a leak detector fluid that is certified for oxygen
service on oxy tanks. 

Jim, I don’t doubt your expertise one bit (and you may have saved
lives with the heads-up about burning Gorilla glue) but-- why not
use soapy water?

Noel


#19

We use propane and oxygen. I have a 5 gal tank I keep inside. I check
my fittings each tank change, with a soapy liquid the propane guy
gave me. My outside winter temps regular go below freezing, my summer
temps are in the 90’s - 100’s. I don’t want my tank out in those temp
ranges.

After much talking with a propane installer we did the following. We
bought a new 5 gal tank that has all the latest safety devices on it.
When I refill it, we have them fill it only to 4 gals so its not full
to the brim. It is checked, watched, and cared for. I have never had
any problems. My closest scare came with an acetylene tank…but
that’s another story. I’ve never seen a jewelry studio with the
propane outside. All gases go boom. But as someone said, I’m in more
danger driving to the propane dealer to get it filled.

Carla
www.carlamfox.com


#20

Propane tanks belong outside the building. ALL new refillable tanks
carry the warning - DO NOT STORE INDOORS!

If you decide to keep them inside your home or your shop, and
something like a fire does happen - even if the tank itself was not
where it started - be prepared for your insurance company to deny
your coverage. They will say that you deliberately contributed to the
conflagration, by ignoring the warning.

Have it properly piped into the building from outside - with the
necessary red tape and permits duly recorded. Unless, of course, you
don’t mind doing battle with your insurance company when disaster
occurs.

Brian