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Wednesday, 01 July 2015


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The earliest July 2 to fall on a Wednesday isn't until 2025!

That not I was told...all garages must be lower and with vents to let out carbon monoxide to escape from a car exhaust and not come into the home.

but I live in Florida and people leave their cars running in the garage all the time ......some on purpose.

I suspect: People keep lawn mowers, snow blowers and the requisite gasoline cans in their garages. Also, oil, solvents, paint thinner, etc.. Hence, the fire danger.

The leading cause of damage in homes is water not fire by a ten to one ratio. Skip the fire extinguishers and invest in a automatic water cut off sensor in your next house. This advice comes from a man who was informed by a friend in Phoenix who installed such a sensor only after he had $250,000 worth of water damage from a broken pipe in the desert of Phoenix.

I thought that was a smart idea but I had never had a busted pipe in my house in WI in 23 years. Three days later I was informed that my house in WI had busted pipes from the freeze of February. The cost to repair was huge.

OK, fire can kill, but water ruins more houses.


A nice drive in the country with my girlfriend. I drive into the garage, backed in. Shut the engine off. It's a Lotus Elan, 1970 model. Strong smell of vaporized gasoline, lots of it. I say to her, open your door, get out, walk out of the garage, and DO NOT CLOSE YOUR CAR DOOR. Raw gasoline is spilling onto the hot exhaust. We are in a cloud of it. She gets about 20 feet out and stops, I say keep going. Not breathing much. After a bit I open my door and leave.

The car has a pretty serious fire system, an 8 pound bottle of Halon inert gas fire extinguisher in the trunk with nozzles in the trunk, interior and under the hood, but none under the car where the problem is. I can set this off with a handle under the dash, but it's not going to help.

But with no spark, we have no problem. Fire in the garage? Not that day, but it could happen.

Cars catching fire in garages happens all the time, actually: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/San-Diego-North-Park-Drift-Car-Garage-Fire-310653631.html

That said, a lot of building code requirements are not the result of a carefully considered cost-benefit analysis, so looking for the logic behind them is often a fruitless exercise.

For example, when I was remodeling my house a few years back, I learned that the local building code required that every room in the house have a window and even included a formula to determine the minimum amount of window area necessary per square foot of room size.

I asked the inspector if this meant I would have to install a window in a photo darkroom and he said that it did. (rolls eyes)

I remember becoming leery of attached garages after reading how a guy decided to kill himself one night with his car running in the garage- the carbon monoxide managed to seep into the adjoining bedrooms and kill the rest of his family.

Well, a lot of fires are started by people deep-frying turkeys in giant vats of peanut oil. For some reason, they insist on doing that in garages/carports.

The fire door need not necessarily keep hazards out of the house but out of your garage [which may also be used as a storage room for highly combustible items or as a workshop].

The real date must have been in 2025, the next year in which July 2 is a Wednesday. Around here, we'd think of that as an unusually lengthy escrow.

Any thoughts on potential buyers discovering basement (or some other useful area) devoted to a wet darkroom?

Garage fire doors work.

It appears your home was sold Before the inspection? Most home sales are predicated on the inspection. What up?
A reminder: What your in the middle of is historically the most stress producing event in most peoples lives. Easy does it.

Perhaps the fire door is to protect the car!

I suspect that the car/fire thing is complicated: cars probably have not ever caught on fire randomly very often, but they do emit petrol fumes and carbon monoxide, neither of which are very good for you and the first of which can be explosive in confined spaces.

But it is probably at least a bit historical.

Hi Mike,
with the screen door i think that more than the chance of fires, is the danger posed by gases from gasoline and exhaust fumes.

It is a bit like the no smoking rules around gas pumps. A lit cigarette isn't actually hot enough to ignite gasoline, but a lighter or match is. Safer to say no smoking than to say no matches.

Regards Clive

Kitchen in the living room. That is the doofy "open floor plan" stuff from the Home & Garden set, who think that the entire household should smell the cooking odors and where the entire household should eventually have a film of cooking oil and debris over every surface. Possibly the knick-knacks placed on every shelf and cabinet absorb the oil. Sigh, another trend....

For those who could afford it, kitchens in the southern USA used to be in separate buildings. That was before air conditioning and climate control systems. For those who had less resources, kitchens were usually located at one end of the house, away from sleeping and daily activity areas. Again, air conditioning changed all that and now we have cooking areas right in the middle of things.

It's kind of interesting how air conditioning changed so many things in the South. The school I attended as a child was in a very old building with no AC. It had high ceilings and lots of windows that opened with transoms over the doorways to allow excellent air circulation. I don't recall anyone being uncomfortable in those classrooms, even at the end of the school term when the temperature and humidity went up significantly. Later the school was expanded with a more modern addition for the upper grades. Low ceilings with less air circulation in the classrooms made for an uncomfortable learning environment. Teachers brought fans from home to try and keep things bearable but students still sweated during those warmer months. These modern building designs led to the necessity of air conditioning. Air conditioning then led to longer school terms--kids stayed in school until the middle of June and returned to class in August whereas previously schools closed in May and didn't resume until mid or late September.

Actually here in Southern Ontario fire doors are required between garages and homes and between garages, ie if two garages are side by side. Given all the electronic gizmos of vehicles these days, most vehicles have constant power trickling somewhere and it is so darn easy for something to suddenly flame.
No screen doors on submarines either or so I am told.


One of the reasons I enjoy reading the blog is your curiosity about things that few people notice but should. The everyday ironies of our lives is one of those things.

Here in the UK, the 2012-13 stats (probably the latest available) say that 52% of fires are caused by 'Cooking appliances'. Same difference, really. A gas or electric hob is not controlled by the temperature of whatever it is heating, so for example shallow or deep fat pans can be heated until they self combust, given a little inattention.

There are similar rules here for fire doors and a step up, with attached garages. If I remember correctly, inspection pits here are required to have explosion proof lighting; petrol vapour can gather in the pit. One spark is all it takes.

I'm no relation to the Bradbury garage equipment company, by the way.

Back in the day they used to have the kitchen in a separate building behind the house for just that reason: they caught fire, a lot. I wonder when we decided it was better the other way around.

I wonder how often do fires actually start in attached darkrooms

I was told by a Sheriff's Deputy who had responded to several carbon monoxide deaths in the garages over the years.

1. get into car.
2. open garage door.
3. start car.
4. immediately back car out of garage.
5. fasten seat belt and fix your make up.

He related one case where it appeared that the car was started with the door closed and the driver started to make a addition to the grocery list, and didn't finish.

2 liters @ 2000 rpm = lots of exhaust.


A friend lost his entire archive and all his equipment when a plane crashed on the Bijlmer neighbourhood in Amsterdam in 1992. He was very lucky. Others lost so much more.

Mike, If you've never been to Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, put it on your bucket list. Not only is it magnificent with a myriad of innovations by Mr. Jefferson, the kitchen area is away from, although connected to, the main building. A very clever dumbwaiter system designed by Mr. Jefferson took freshly cooked items directly to the dining room. The area for potential fires is all built of stone. A common sense approach. Believe me, go, you won't regret the experience.

Commenter Ann wrote: "...I've heard anecdotal tales of people getting low level CO poisoning from houses that have poorly air sealed garages..."

Mike replied: "I agree. I would not buy a house with a bedroom built directly above the garage. Too many horror stories...If anyone reading this has a bedroom above a garage, I'd encourage you to get it inspected to make sure you have the proper gas barriers in place, as well as working carbon monoxide detectors."


A garages is not the only source of low level carbon monoxide. Heating appliances (boilers and furnaces), stoves and fireplaces are among the others. Unfortunately, the UL-listed detectors Mike linked to are specifically designed to provide absolutely no protection from it. They only react to extraordinarily high CO levels that are immediately life threatening. The UL standard was developed using input from first responders, who were mainly concerned with avoiding 'false alarm' calls. Consequently, the approved alarms are built to ignore CO until it exceeds ridiculously high thresholds of intensity and time.

Since many municipal codes now require one or more UL-approved CO detectors, I comply and suggest everyone else does too. However, in addition, I wouldn't be without a low-level CO detector. Here's the one in my home:


It sits on my nightstand and gets replaced whenever its chemical detection element, which is time-limited, wears out. This is the least expensive insurance of any type that I purchase; it's well worth the cost.

And on the other side of the planet near the Tibetan border, in a Monpa's home, the kitchen is bedroom, living room and loft all-in-one.


Speaking of studio/darkroom fires, there was the one that cost Ansel Adams quite a bit of his early work. There is at least one famous image of Ansel's (Monolith, the Face of Half Dome?) where later prints, while having better tonality, are cropped a bit on top and don't have quite the same elegance of composition as early ones. The top 1/8" or 1/4" of the large negative(either 5x7, full plate or 8x10 - which I don't recall)was damaged in the fire, and there is a slight unwanted crop to avoid the damage in all prints from after the fire. I wonder if someone has now made a high quality digital reconstruction from an image of an early print? I'd imagine a master digital printmaker,ideally whomever is in charge of the present high quality reproductions could match the tonality of that bit of sky (I don't think there is anything else in it)to a scan of the negative for the rest of the print, producing new prints of Monolith as visualized for the first time in 80 years. Is this an acceptable or unacceptable use of digital retouching?

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