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Safety -- Make sure you are safe!

View Poll Results: Do you babysit your kiln while it's running?
I am always in the room and paying attention when the kiln is on 16 3.09%
I don't leave the house - but I do other things and don't watch it like a hawk 217 41.89%
I have been known to run a few errands away from the house when the kiln is on 55 10.62%
I put the beads in, close the door, and leave the house/go to sleep 230 44.40%
Voters: 518. You may not vote on this poll

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  #31  
Old 2007-07-10, 10:18pm
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I've used the timer setting on my oven for years. That means I'm not home when it starts - why would you use it if you are at home!

I run my dryer when I'm not home.

I also run the washing machine when I am not home - but that is the appliance I am more concerned about. I'm always afraid the hoses are going to come lose and flood the house.

We had the solenoid fail open on the water valve for the ice maker in our freezer - luckily I was home for that or we would have been replacing all of the hardwood flooring in the kitchen because of water damage.

I sleep with my kiln on. It is 18 inches away from the walls (which are fireproof backer board) and is on a stainless steel kiln stand on a table covered with fireproof back board and the whole thing sits on a concrete floor. We have a smoke alarm right there.
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  #32  
Old 2007-07-10, 11:24pm
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I'm beginning to think I'm better off not even having a kiln, but I hate to bug other people to batch anneal my beads. I'm in this fiasco with AIM and I still can't decide whether to go on and wait for my 84BD (with controller) or just get my money back and keep sending my beads out. I don't work at home. I work on my Dad's lot in a former feed shed. It's heavy steel, not that cheap aluminum, with a concrete floor, but there is a wood table and a wood cabinet in it. I was going to batch my beads in his garage because he has 20 amp circuits in there, but eventually I'd like to be able to put the beads directly from the flame into the kiln. But that would mean leaving it alone in the shed while it finishes the cycle. I'm not liking the whole scenario on that...

Cheryl
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  #33  
Old 2007-07-11, 1:28am
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Funny thing... I don't think twice about going to bed with the kiln still cycling, but I won't go to bed with the clothes dryer going.
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  #34  
Old 2007-07-11, 3:15am
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When you don't have a digitally programmable kiln.....you dare not go too far!
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  #35  
Old 2007-07-11, 5:32am
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I just fired a 2.5 day fused piece (very very thick and large and I ramped up super slow so it wouldn't crack). There is no way I could sit the kiln that long but I do check on it now and then to be sure it's on schedule. I figure my kilns are all metal encased firebrick and none are near flammables so it would take a long time before they heated to the point of burning anything. I do check on them periodically though, but I'll run an anneal and go to bed no problem.
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  #36  
Old 2007-07-11, 5:36am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bhhco View Post
Kiln or annealer? They are designed to operate at different maximum temperatures. Kilns up to 2400 F. Annealers up to 1200 F. Both have coils which can heat to over 2400 F. Kilns do fine at 2400 F... but some annealers burst into flames at 2400 F. If the annealer power relay fails closed, it goes into thermal runaway unless the control circuit has a 'policing monitor' which automatically senses the runaway condition and shuts down the power. Does yours?

Me
Hi Bill, Thanks for posting this. I think some of our reactions have to do with how our kiln reacts when there is a short outage. I know that mine turns off when there is a flash of power outage. I have to be here in case the power flashes (as it does frequently in South Florida) to turn the kiln back on. I do infrequently run out of the house to the post office or somewhere that I will be back in 15 minutes, but that's about it. I do that for the safety of my beads, not for the safety of my home. I've had this type of controller since 1998 and it has never gone up from where it is programmed, but it has shut off due to the power outages. I think it would scare me for it to go up after a power outage and I definitely wouldn't feel comfortable leaving it unattended in that case.
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  #37  
Old 2007-07-11, 7:08am
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Originally Posted by pam View Post
Hi Bill, Thanks for posting this. I think some of our reactions have to do with how our kiln reacts when there is a short outage. I know that mine turns off when there is a flash of power outage. I have to be here in case the power flashes (as it does frequently in South Florida) to turn the kiln back on. I do infrequently run out of the house to the post office or somewhere that I will be back in 15 minutes, but that's about it. I do that for the safety of my beads, not for the safety of my home. I've had this type of controller since 1998 and it has never gone up from where it is programmed, but it has shut off due to the power outages. I think it would scare me for it to go up after a power outage and I definitely wouldn't feel comfortable leaving it unattended in that case.
He was actually talking about a power relay failing in the closed position (meaning heating up). This would mean that the relay doesn't open (stop heating) and you end up with a "runaway kiln".
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  #38  
Old 2007-07-11, 8:59am
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It actually doesn't matter whether the kiln is ramping down, up or holding - the same failure of a relay failing closed can happen, causing a runaway kiln. Having it on a completely metal table is smart. I would hate the see the damage a kiln could do if it burst into flames.
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  #39  
Old 2007-07-11, 9:01am
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Originally Posted by Kalera View Post
Funny thing... I don't think twice about going to bed with the kiln still cycling, but I won't go to bed with the clothes dryer going.

I won't go to bed with the dryer on either and I wouldn't dream of leaving the house with it running. I am paranoid about dryers.

My fiance has made me paranoid about toasters now too. We always unplug it after we use it.
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  #40  
Old 2007-07-12, 3:11am
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what's the thing with the clothes dryer? the only good reason i can think of not to sleep with the dryer on, is that if i don't need the clothes right away, why waste that electricity? i can hang them, and put them in the dryer when i get up in the morning, and i'll need a much shorter cycle for the clothes to finish drying and be warm so that they're easy to fold

i do go to bed with the kiln on, it's down in the basement studio with concrete walls and a metal door, i try not to leave the house when it's on but it's not a no-no for me. when it's on and i'm here i do check up on it every hour or so

the place where i lived in up until last november was a 1 room appartment, unfortunately my kiln was about 3 feet from the bed, so i checked up on it when i'd wake at night to go to the bathroom etc... more than a one room appartment, that place was like living in the studio, after one summer with a kiln i gave up, it became unbearable to have the kiln on in what supposedly was my bedroom, in a middle-eastern heatwave... that place was just too small for my kiln and myself to live there together, we had to leave...
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  #41  
Old 2007-07-12, 4:27am
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Originally Posted by meitali View Post
what's the thing with the clothes dryer? the only good reason i can think of ...
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that in 1998, clothes dryers were associated with 15,600 fires, which resulted in 20 deaths and 370 injuries. Fires can occur when lint builds up in the dryer or in the exhaust duct. Lint can block the flow of air, cause excessive heat build-up, and result in a fire in some dryers.

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  #42  
Old 2007-07-12, 4:59am
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wow, i had never heard of a clothes-dryer-related-fire... scary!
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  #43  
Old 2007-07-12, 5:37am
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Default Kiln unattended

Yes, I did hear that about the dryers. My husband cleans out the dryer duct about once a month and we vac under it at the same time.
Anyway, I've got more to worry about then my kiln.
Like all the enamels I had to work with yesterday for an exhibition that's coming up.

I did have on the correct respirator, correct ventilation, an open door and window, I moved everything off my work table except the essentials, I wore long pants, a long sleeve shirt, and gloves, and hell, let me tell you those gloves are difficult to work in.
And talk about hot!!!!!!! It was about 85 here yesterday with high humidity. At least my basement is cooler.

When I'm done I wash the clothes I was working in. I feel like I should just wear a hazmat suit, like the ones they wear on 24!
After all the posts I've read on here about using enamels I'm getting really paranoid, and for good reason.
When I was done working I damp mopped the whole studio. YIKES, therefore I only use them when absolutely necessary.

I believe this was mentioned in another post but I took a class from a very prominent beadmaker a couple of years ago and guess what, no respirators and only windows for ventilation!
If I had only known!!!
Leslie
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  #44  
Old 2007-07-15, 5:28pm
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I sit with my kiln only because my DH makes me. But we also do not and I would never think of leaving the house with any appliance going and if I can't remember if I unplugged the iron or something else I go back home (even if I have to leave work) or send DH home to check. I know too many who have lost everything they own to fires. I also do not have glade or any other brand plug in air fresheners. I love the smell but I know 2 people they were responsible for burning their houses down.
Over protective I know but we worked long and hard for everything we have. I don't want to start over now.
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  #45  
Old 2007-07-15, 8:29pm
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Well - the "plug n' run's" are ahead by 67 votes right now.

I'm kind of middle ground. While I can't sleep with the kiln on,
I will do all kinds of other things in the house, and not sit
right next to it while it's on. And I do run out for 10 minutes
to pick up the kids - but that's literally across the street.
(And the whole trip I'm thinking "oh f%$#ck! oh f%$#ck! oh f%$#ck!").

If I had a separate studio, I'd most likely be ok just torching and
running, but since it's not - I don't want to take any chances.
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  #46  
Old 2007-07-15, 10:17pm
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Now you guys all have me worried! When I get the chance to make beads all day, which is not very often, I'll set it to hold for about 10 hours, make beads, run errands, come back make more beads, run the kids here and there, come back, make more beads ect. then around 9pm when I'm sure I'm done making beads, I'll ramp it down overnight. It is in the garage, but still, now you guys got me thinking!
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  #47  
Old 2007-07-16, 5:12am
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Our standard practice for years has been to turn the kiln on and ignore it until its firing cycle is finished. In all the years I've been doing glass work, the ONLY fire I ever heard of caused by a kiln was when the fool owner placed it directly on a wood table without the kiln's metal stand.

Kilns can withstand and contain 2400 deg temperatures. In the event of a runaway relay, the only thing that will happen is it'll heat up high enough and long to burn out an element - at which time the circuit breaker kicks and the kiln turns off. Your only concern is how much electricity it sucks up before it pops the breaker.

The reason we buy kilns with digital controllers is precisely so we can leave them unattended. We have 6 kilns going and ALWAYS leave them running when we leave. As to the fireman being concerned....he's either misinformed or needlessly over cautious. Our fire inspector is aware of our kiln firing practice and has approved it for our fire insurance policy.
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  #48  
Old 2007-07-17, 12:08pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Brady View Post
...In all the years I've been doing glass work, the ONLY fire I ever heard of caused by a kiln was when the fool owner placed it directly on a wood table without the kiln's metal stand....

Kilns can withstand and contain 2400 deg temperatures...
This is true for kilns. However, today a lot of folks are using Annealers which are not truly 'Kilns'... and are not designed for use above 1200 F.

The heating element in an annealer is just like the one in a kiln, and heats to 4500 F when energized (BTW... so does a common electric light bulb). The annealer 'controller' cycles the power on/off to the element to ensure the internal box temperature remains below 1200 F. This would be like placing you hand very near a light bulb and turning it on and off frequently enough that it does not burn your hand... but just keeps your hand 'warm'. The annealer's external surface temperature nominally remains at/below 220 F with a internal annealer temperature of ~960F. The controller's primary function is to ensure the internal temperature remains within the parameters set for the specific annealing schedule.

The heating element operates at 4500 F, and thus has the potential of raising the internal box temperature much higher than 1200 F if the controller fails to de-energize the heating coil. This would be like placing your hand very near a light bulb, and then turning it on BUT not turning it off... pretty soon the hand would be burned, first, second, then third degree. You would experience the full potential of a 4500 F, 60W light bulb.

The structural design of some annealers (again... not kilns) assumes the internal temperature will not be allowed to rise above 1200 F. Thus the external box surface temperature nominally remains at/below 220 F. However, if the heating element is constantly on, then the internal temperature can rise to over 2400+ F, and the external box surface temperature will likewise rise several hundred additional degrees above the 220 F.

The actual surface temperature depends on the annealer's thermal design. The important thing is this... for some annealers the external temperature can rise to the ignition point of the surface coating (e.g., the paint) used on the annealer's metal box... and result in a fire. Objects located near the annealer, which would normally be unaffected by a annealer box surface temperature of 220 F or less, will now experience a significantly higher thermal radiation... i.e, heat far above 220 F.

How can this happen? If an auto-controller (e.g., infinite switch) is used, it can fail closed - with heating element energized. If a digital controller is used, it can too... due to either software (PID logic) or hardware (relay) failure. Some controllers include a circuit to detect that failure and shutdown the unit -- more about that later.

How likely is this to happen, and/or does it ever even happen? Let me ask this first. How often do gas torches cause home fires? In 2003, the NFPA statistics show there was an estimated 1,300 residential structural fires due to gas fired torches used by 'hobbyists' in their homes, resulting in 70 injuries and $1.8M property loss. The statistics do not go to that level of detail relative to electrical appliances, non-certified, annealers, used by hobbyists. So, I do not know how often 'it happens'... but it happened to me... and that caused me to look deeper into this.

The annealers used by flameworkers are quite varied (even when we restrict the field to just plain 'Annealers', and exclude all real 'Kilns' ). Many annealers are made by companies and entrepreneurs with a long history of experience and expertise. Some are not. Some annealers are DIY projects using various 'off the net' plans... and modified in various ways. Thus, the design and the parts used are quite... varied, and the design safety is unknown.

All of these annealers, regardless of who makes them, are refractory appliances, meaning they operate at very high temperatures and require specialized parts which can survive temperatures. This is one reason annealers (and kilns) are expensive... the parts and materials are more expensive than those used in a standard kitchen oven or toaster.

Additionally, special considerations must be made in the design to include, if possible, a 'thermal runaway policing circuit' using either hardware or software. Some annealer controllers have that circuit, and the annealer can not go into thermal runaway... or at least if they do, the runaway is arrested and stopped, and the system is shut down. Some do not have this circuit.

Given the plethora of annealers, from various manufacturers, entrepreneurs, and those made by DIY'ers... it would be difficult to say 'carte blanche', that it is safe to leave an annealer unattended - without knowing the specific annealer controller's design. Some folks have come home to a kiln that had 'shutdown early'... others have required hardware change-outs because the annealer 'refused to ramp up'. To me those are potentially examples of systems which may have sensed a runaway and shutdown the system.

However, I may actually be the only person who has ever experienced a thermal runaway... and the resulting fire. Possibly I'm the only one it will ever happen to.

Me

p.s. We cannot rely on element failure or CBs to police and shutdown the system. The heating coil will not simply burn out when the internal temperature reaches 2400 F, nor even when it reaches 4500 F and stays there... anymore than will a light bulb. Additionally, the circuit breaker will not trip if an element burns out, anymore than if a light bulb burns out. CBs trip due to increased resistance, and the resistance actually decreases as the heating element temperature rises.
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  #49  
Old 2007-07-17, 3:25pm
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Quote:
This is true for kilns. However, today a lot of folks are using Annealers which are not truly 'Kilns'... and are not designed for use above 1200 F
.

I sell a LOT of different bead annealers and I think the lowest temp rated one on the list is designed to fire to 1700 f. More are intended to fire to 2000 F.

What makes are only safe to 1200?
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  #50  
Old 2007-07-17, 4:12pm
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My Chili Pepper annealer came with a warning that it would "ignite" if it grew hotter than 1300 degrees F.


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  #51  
Old 2007-07-17, 8:25pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Brady View Post
.

I sell a LOT of different bead annealers and I think the lowest temp rated one on the list is designed to fire to 1700 f. More are intended to fire to 2000 F.

What makes are only safe to 1200?
Dennis, you probably know better than I who makes all the different annealers.

I'd say, off the top of my head... any annealer that used fiber versus brick, and was painted steel, not SS or aluminum, should be looked at as one probably not intended for use above 1200 F. There are exceptions I'm sure, since it then relates to the thermal transfer rate of the material and if an air buffer exists in the box.

What would make in unsafe is the flammable coating and excessive thermal transfer rate above 1200 F.

There are still many, many DIY annealers that the assembler may have omitted a step or two, regarding over temp sensing.

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  #52  
Old 2007-07-30, 8:35pm
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The only time I didn't, my kiln had a melt down. Lost all the beads. Glass stuck to the door, walls, floor, etc. Messed up the inside pretty bad. I Learned my lesson. It may be digitally controlled but they're not perfect.
-elaine
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  #53  
Old 2007-08-06, 6:56am
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I never leave the house with the kiln on! I don't know why, I just don't, though I will do other things in other areas of the house.

My torching hours are erratic. I might make some beads but then have to go out to run an errand, or be unable to focus and make only 2 or 3 beads. I make sure the bead door is closed and turn the kiln off. When I get back home I might not decide to torch til the next day. I just leave the beads in the kiln and start the kiln up when I'm ready to torch again. I've pretty much always done that and truthfully I don't know whether or not it adds additional stressors to the glass but I've never had a problem with broken beads.

I can't go to sleep with the kiln on either. Even though it's on a controller I can be a tard and hit buttons i'm not supposed to; most recently that ended up in the beads sitting at 960 for something like 99:99 hours! When the kiln shuts off then I can go to bed. (Or I might just turn it off and then turn it back on to go through the cycle the following day.)

So I guess I basically don't leave the house or go to sleep when the toggle switch is turned on.
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  #54  
Old 2007-08-06, 6:57am
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PixieFireBeads PixieFireBeads is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by missbatteries View Post
The only time I didn't, my kiln had a melt down. Lost all the beads. Glass stuck to the door, walls, floor, etc. Messed up the inside pretty bad. I Learned my lesson. It may be digitally controlled but they're not perfect.
-elaine
Ewww, that happened with a fire in a fusing class I was taking! They think the power momentarily went off then back on and screwed up the firing program. Everything was a huge mess and there were a couple of really unhappy campers.
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Old 2007-08-09, 8:19am
smutboy420 smutboy420 is offline
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I my self try not to leave the property when a kiln is running but I do go and do other things. I just don't like leaving compleatly.
Jewlers run there kilns at night to burn out there casting molds and have the kiln set to hold them at the proper working temp so when they get in to the shop in the morning every thing is there waiting for them in the kiln ready to be cast.

Its weird I have never even heard a jewler utter a word of worry about it. And they are burning out wax and plastic in there kilns and I have seen flames shooting out a casting kiln before as well as burning wax runing out of one once when the catch tray had a corroded spot spring a leak.
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Old 2007-08-09, 8:52am
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Paul Ewing Paul Ewing is offline
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That is one reason I grabbed a Steam Dewaxer form a supply company that went out of business. I hate the smell of burning wax and it will be much nicer to melt out 90% or so of it before I even through the flasks into the kiln. I just need to get the shop reorgnized so I can have things set up properly.

Cheers,
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Old 2007-08-12, 6:36pm
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My studio is out in the garage and I work at night so I turn it of before I go to bed. I don't have a digital controller so I have to ramp it down by hand. I actually had it start fire once inside the cage where the wiring is - had to have it re-wired, so I never leave the house with it on now.
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Old 2007-09-25, 8:11pm
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My kiln's in a separate building 65 feet from my house (and further from the neighbors). The kiln's on concrete blocks 12" from the wall, with concrete board on it, and the kiln's on a GFCI circuit. If the power goes out it doesn't turn back on which stinks but it's a good thing too.

Only once I've found a problem with the digital controller, where for some reason it was stuck at 1200 even over night. NO idea what the heck happened but it hasn't happened since.

I do fusing too on my non-torch days so babysitting isn't always an option. I'll leave the house occasionally while it's on, but usually I'm watching mostly because I'm impatiently waiting for it to cool so I can see my stuff.
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Old 2007-10-15, 6:43am
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I have a manual kiln, so I have to go down and change the temp every half hour when I'm fusing, anyways. So I couldn't leave if I wanted.
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Old 2008-01-30, 12:28pm
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Ok... I am one of those stupid fools who have had a kiln fire but only because I forgot that I left something on top of my kiln. I had placed my digital scale on it and forgot to take it off before I ran a batch annealing program. Well, the whole thing caught on fire and lucky for me my husband walked into our garage right as it burst into flames.

I was talking to a fire marshall the other day and she told me that one of the number one causes of person releated accidental house fires right now was becuase people often leave there cell phone chargers plugged into the wall without the cell phones plugged into it. I guess they overheat and catch on fire.

Dryer lint fires were number 2.
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