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I'm building out my garage blacksmithing area, walls a standard 2x4 construction.

I've looked on the net and found very little info on Fire proofing wooden walls. I asked some friends and was thinking of just using cement board up to 4' on the entire wall.

Do any of you have a better method to achieve a safe fire proof wall over wood?




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Good Morning,

I put thin plywood on first (3/8"), then 1/2" drywall on the walls, 5/8 fire-gard drywall on the ceiling. Using the plywood first gives you something to fasten to. Who knows how or what will go where, in a few years. If you have seen flames licking at the ceiling, you will know why!!


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It depends on what you consider a likely ignition source.  If it is radiant heat from a forge things generally don't get very hot a few feet away.  Even the chimney on a coal forge 6' or so above the forge is generally not too hot to touch in my experience.  If you are talking about dragon's breath from the end of a propane forge then there is much more risk and more precautions need to be taken. Sparks from welding and cut off or dropped hot iron can travel a decent distance from you anvil location and you need to consider what is flammable  within 6-10'.  If you use an angle grinder make sure you consider where the spark plume is gong and what it is hitting.  The same is true for a cut off saw or anything else using abrasives like a grinder (belt or wheel). 

Fire retardant materials are rated in time they will stop a fire on one side.  For example, fire doors are rated as 1, 2, or 3 hour doors.  You may wish to consult the Uniform Fire Code.  If it is not on line you may be able to look at a copy at your local fire department or building department.

I am doing the same thing in my shop and am planning on 1/4" concrete backer board over 3/8" plywood with fiber glass insulation between the studs.  I'm not sure that I will follow Swedefiddle's advice about putting fire resistant material on the ceiling/rafters since I don't see the possibility of flames getting that high (9.5') unless the whole building was involved and then it would be way too late.

I'd be more concerned about the accumulation of flammable material in a shop, sawdust, rags, solvents, scrap wood, etc. being the ignition point of a fire.  Luckily, much of what we use as smiths is not flammable.  It is hard to burn down a scrap pile, anvil, or a rack of steel.

If you are using flammable gases, e.g. propane or acetylene, be careful how you store and use them.  In particular, don't keep your propane tank close to your propane forge when it is in operation.  Further away is better.

And keep one or more decent sized fire extinguishers near the doors of the shop.  I think that dry chemical extinguishers are best.  5 pound size is probably a minimum.

A smoke detector is not a bad thing to have but if you have a detached shop you may not hear it if you are not in the shop building and if you are there you will probably notice a fire. (Probably apocryphal black smith quote, "Yes, I know I'm on fire.  Just let me finish this weld.")  A carbon monoxide detector is probably more important.

You can probably tell from the above that my father was a Captain on the Chicago Fire Department and I have worked with Fire Code enforcement.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."  

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We once fireproofed a wall around a wood stove by covering it with slate shingles.

Drywall works well but is "fragile" in a smithy and so needs a protective cover---which in general could be used without the drywall!

I smithed for 15 years in a 1920's detached wooden garage with no fire issues. I did keep a bucket of water and if a hot bit flew somewhere unreachable I'd slosh the area with water.   (Funny thing; after 15 years of smithing in that detached garage with no power and no problems, it burned down mysteriously a couple months *after* we sold the house and moved away...new owner got to build a fancy new garage!

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I'm more familiar with measures to prevent radiant heat from heating flammable materials rather than steps to prevent cutting and welding sparks from starting fires. Wherever heat sources (IFB kilns) could not be placed at least 16 inches from wooden/plasterboard walls [I always measured out two feet] a two inch air gap made by standing off steel plate like roofing tin etc. from the flammable wall made for excellent heat shields. Need to allow a gap at the floor so natural air currents carry off the intercepted heat. A fan on low can do wonders in mitigating heat build up.

From what I understand many of the fire proofing building methods are in place to provide extra time for escape before collapse or rapid, catastrophic spread of the flames, in case of a structural fire, rather than actually preventing the fire in the first place.



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Yes, the horizontal blocking installed between studs.  No, it won’t help initial stopping on outside from fire source like double layering Sheetrock or using PermaBase, but it will certainly help slow spread should something catch and it provides a nice support for nailing/screwing material to.

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