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Re: GSBN:Re: Ecohouse

Many years ago a group from Southern California built a straw bale
"demonstration house" at the Yuba County fair grounds for the annual fair.
Putting aside the question of why it was a SOUTHERN CA firm demonstrating
straw bale walls in NORTHERN CA, the activity generated some interesting
concerns from the local fire department.  At one point they were
considering whether to halt the opening of the fair until full blown fire
tests were done, or the bale structure was removed.
As an alternative, the architect asked them to light the bottom of the
wall.  Actually, I think what he asked them was to TRY to burn the wall.
It was not yet plastered, so from the fire chief's point of view, this was
a potential very unsafe way to test the safety of this structure that was
going to be visited by literally tens of people (remember, this was Yuba
After rounding up all the shovels and rakes and hoses and other fire
fighting equipment on the fair grounds and off the fire trucks they drove
up in, the chief lit the bottom of one wall.  It fairly exploded with quick
travelling flame that ran to the top... and went out.  The entire
demonstration lasted perhaps 5 seconds, perhaps six.  No remaining hot
spots.  No residual smoke.  No more problems from the fire department.
If you want more details, contact Ian McKilvey (sp?) with Sol De Mar on the
California coast somewhere south of Monterey (perhaps WAY south of

Nehemiah Stone

> [Original Message]
> From: John Swearingen john.skillfulmeans@...
> To: GSBN GSBN@...
> Date: 1/12/2007 11:42:01 AM
> Subject: Re: GSBN:Re: Ecohouse
> Dear Sweetness and "Anybody Got a Light",
> This looks really cool.  Can you see a way to do it that would be safe?
> John "Singe" Swearingen
> On 1/12/07, Bruce King ecobruce@... wrote:
> >
> >
> > On Jan 12, 2007, at 9:42 AM, André de Bouter wrote:
> >
> > > Hello everybody . . .
> >
> > > I'd like to know exactly how well Sarah's sb wall insulates.
> >
> > I'm pretty sure they don't know, other than that the room (a guest
> > room, only partially used) seems to stay comfortable.
> >
> >
> > > However, Bruce, did you try the quick and dirty (and totally
> > > un-respectful) lighter test while you were there? Meaning: did you
> > > a lighter at the base of the wall?
> >
> > Of course I did, and -- here's the British for you -- they got all
> > excited and started screaming and jumping around as if a little fire
> > test was such a big deal.  Hah!  They should have been in San Antonio
> > last summer -- now THAT was a fire test.
> >
> >
> > > Would Sarah agree to this type of
> > > fire demonstration of her 'slick and hairy' system? Probably not.
> >
> > Yeah, she made me stop, once she'd calmed down a bit and I could
> > understand her.
> >
> > Based on our collective experience with lab and accidental project
> > fires, I would guess that, yes, a fire could climb into the vented
> > cavity and crawl up the hairy straw bale surface.  It might not burn
> > the bales too much, but it could ignite the roof.
> >
> > Bruce "anybody got a light?" King
> > ----
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> > send email to GSBN@...HELP in the SUBJECT line.
> > ----
> >
> >
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