Fire Control

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A fire aboard ship has to rank near the top of the “Things that Terrify Skippers” list. Fire is rare enough, and scary enough, that many of us might prefer not to think about it.

Can we make a boat fireproof?

In short: No.

The closest we could get would be an unpainted, uninsulated aluminum boat with no interior and no powered systems. Pretty much all wood-based products, most composites, most plastics and most fabrics are at least somewhat flammable under some conditions, not to mention the fuel for the engine and the stove.

We can, however, do a pretty good job of preventing a fire from starting, and if it starts, preventing it from spreading. These prevention measures form the single biggest component of the ABYC rules and the rules of the various class societies. There are far too many of them to repeat here, but they basically boil down to: Install equipment properly and never cut corners.

Even on a perfectly rigged boat, though, accidents can happen. If a fire does break out, you’ll want to be prepared.

Extinguishing agents

We’d be mad to go to sea without a few fire extinguishers on board, and it’d be a fine idea to bring the correct ones for the materials on board our boat—there is, after all, quite a wide selection to choose from. Extinguishing agents are classified by the type of fuel they’ll work on. Fortunately for the globe-trotting skipper, these classifications are pretty close to universal.

Class A extinguishers will work on ordinary solid fuels, like wood and fabric.

  • Water is the standard Class A agent, but if used on a liquid fire, it will only spread the mess around.

Class B extinguishers are for liquid fires, such as gasoline, stove alcohol or cleaning chemicals.

  • Ammonium phosphate, also called “ABC Dry Chemical”, is the most popular choice of extinguishing agent as it works reasonably well on most solid and liquid fires.
  • Sodium bicarbonate, potassium bicarbonate and potassium chloride are also acceptable class B agents, but have the major disadvantage of being ineffective on class A fires.
  • Compressed carbon dioxide, which is often not a good idea for solid fires (the high pressure jet scatters the burning materials), works well on many liquids and gases. Don’t uncork one in an enclosed space, though: The oxygen-displacing gas just might extinguish you as well if it can’t dissipate quickly.
  • When diesel or gasoline are involved, it’s hard to beat the messy but effective wet foams favoured by airport firefighters.
  • In Europe or Asia, an additional class C rating means the extinguisher will work on gas fires, such as a propane stove.

Class C in North America, or an Asian E rating, is for electrical fires.

  • These extinguishing agents are non-conductive, so they won’t short out electrical systems near the fire or, worse, conduct electricity through the stream back to you.

Class D rating indicates a specialized extinguisher for metal fires, such as those that can be started by damaged lithium batteries.

  • No one type will work on all metal fires.
  • Sodium chloride, copper power and graphite based extinguishing agents are the most common.
  • If you use lithium batteries, you should have an extinguisher specifically designed for them. Regular ABC extinguishers will not put out a lithium battery fire!

Classes K or F indicate a dedicated galley fire extinguisher, designed to work very well on cooking oil and fat (although a class B will also work on these materials).

How big?

In North America, the “A” and “B” in an extinguisher’s rating will be preceded by a number. The number before the “A” describes the extinguisher’s performance relative to water; a 1A extinguisher is (very roughly) equivalent to a 1.25 gallon/5 litre bucket. The number before the “B” is the number of square feet that the extinguisher will cover before running out. (A full description of these ratings is defined in ANSI/UL standard 711.)

We can see that the common 1A:5BC extinguisher, carrying 2.5 pounds of ammonium phosphate, will be woefully inadequate for any fire that couldn’t be killed with one bailing bucket. Its double-size sibling, the five pound 2A:10BC, is perhaps a more appropriate choice; it packs enough punch to knock out a stir-fry gone wrong, or perhaps a cleaning chemical spill on the electrical panel.

For a battery, stove or tank top fire, though, there’s no substitute for the big guns: a 10 pound 4A:60BC or a 20 pound 20A:120BC. That last one is a $200 beast that stands two feet high, and is heavy enough that some lightly-built crew will have a hard time handling it. Several smaller extinguishers instead of a single monster one might be a better choice.

An engine room fire is another beast entirely. Even with the relatively cramped engine rooms of many modern yachts, you might empty a couple of those 20-pound brutes through the extinguisher ports in the hatch and still not kill the whole fire. Permanently plumbed fire suppression systems, which flood the whole engine room with a combustion-inhibiting fluorocarbon such as FM-200 or FE-36, are arguably the most effective way to control a major fire. On any boat with a price tag in the high six figures or above, you’d have an awfully hard time justifying the omission of such a system. They are, unfortunately, far beyond the budget of most of us.

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The 1A:5BC extinguisher that comes with many new boats, and a somewhat more useful 2A:10BC five-pounder, of which half a dozen would be a good complement for a 40-something footer. Neither one will stand much of a chance against the ten litre tank of dinghy gas once it breaks open.

Where should they go?

Let’s say we’ve settled on five- and ten-pound ABC dry chemical extinguishers—a popular and logical choice, albeit far from the only option. How many should we have, and where should we put them?

We’ll want an extinguisher at hand as we’re leaving each space that contains a fire hazard. That puts one at the entrance to the galley, one outside the engine room hatch, one near the battery bank, one near the electrical panel, one near the top of the companionway, and one beside the propane and outboard gas lockers. If we have a walk-in engine room, we’ll also want one or two in there. Fires grow incredibly quickly, and you might have only a few seconds in which to kill one; running to another part of the boat to get an extinguisher wastes precious time.

This little exercise also settles the question of “how many”. By the time you’ve put an appropriately sized extinguisher everywhere you would expect to need one, you’ve probably exceeded the number you’re legally required to have by a factor of three or more. Not incidentally, this means that a second person can always be ready with a second extinguisher in short order if the first one’s not enough.

How do you use them?

Now we get to the important part, and it’s the part I’m not going to fully answer. Instead, I’m going to say: Go talk to the nearest fire department.

The basic “how to” is something we all know. Pull the pin, aim at the base of the flames, squeeze the trigger, sweep the spray over the fire. You’ll have about ten seconds of spray time in which to either put the fire out or cut it back enough for a second person to get there with another extinguisher. But that’s far from all that we, as skippers and crew, need to know when we have no-one else to call on.

So go to the local fire hall or Coast Guard dock. See if one or two of the guys would mind swinging by your boat for a beer after work. Ask them things like “if this stove went up, where would be the best place to hit it from?” Or “How could I get this into the battery bay without opening the lid and causing a flare-up?” If you’re really feeling hardcore, ask them if anyone knows where you can take an STCW 95 shipboard firefighting course.

It’s also a very good idea to get some practice fighting fires in a controlled environment, so you won’t panic when you have to do it for real. The fire department in my hometown had a big shallow water tank on a trailer, with propane injectors under it, to train random civilians on how to aim and fire an extinguisher. I think every kid in the district had proudly put that thing out by the time they were ten years old. Failing that, it’s not too hard to set something up with a few old pressurized water extinguishers (cheap and easy to refill), a local extinguisher serviceman, a few friends, and a nice big campfire.

Hopefully you’ll never need to use it, but what’s $400 of equipment and an afternoon making friends at the fire hall compared to the possibility of losing the boat and everything on it?

{ 23 comments… add one }

  • gerhard September 19, 2013, 8:44 am

    I don’t like the chemical ones(C). Using it, you will get a mess around. The powder will go to every part of your ship. You need weeks to clean it. Offshore you need external help. Air filter must changed, electrical contacts must be cleaned etc.. You will find the powder after years in hidden corners.

    CO2 is a clean solution. After usage you must ventilate the rooms. With a free choice a would take NO2 for fix installed systems. You must ventilate the rooms too – but it is not toxic!

    Best of your hint is: go to a fire stationand fire your questions.

    Reply
    • John September 19, 2013, 8:54 am

      Hi Gerhard,

      That’s a good point. On “Morgan’s Cloud” we have mainly gas extinguishers for exactly that reason. The exception is the galley where I was advised by a fire expert that a gas extinguisher will only make things worse. Also, I think I’m right in saying, gas extinguishers are generally not as effective against most fires that will occur on boats as dry powder (Matt?).

      After reading Matt’s post I’m going to add a couple more dry powder extinguishers to backup our gas ones on the theory that it’s better to be faced with a horrible clean up job than have no boat left to clean up!

      Reply
    • Erik de Jong September 19, 2013, 9:07 am

      Hi Gerard,

      I agree with you on the foam and the problems you get with the electrical system afterwards. But a CO2 extinghuisher is not from these days anymore, and unusable for a portable extinghuisher because you will kill yourself while using it. A better option would be to use bottled FM200, you could even breath that without dying or any other long term damage to yourself, and kit is better for mother nature as well.

      In addition to Matt’s story, I would always want a permanently installed system in the engine room. Two or three bottles of FM200 or Novac with a pull cable attached to a bulkhead penetrating pulling station, each cylinder with enough capacity to smother the engine room completely so that you can repeat the action if the first charge did not kill the fire entirely. The engine room needs to be air tight to the boat’s interior, and prior to setting of a charge, the air intakes of the engine room need to be closed off.

      And if you have to repaint the interior, buy intumescent paint or varnish, or low flame spread paint, and if you need to replace cushions or mattresses, make sure they are of “uncombustable” material. Curtains and other fabrics should be sprayed with anti combustion liquid. Those are non-poison, non- toxic, non-smell, non-stain liquids that prevent those items from catching fire. This needs to be done every year.

      It might not save a boat from burning down, but it guarantee you some more time to take action since the fire will spread significantly slower.

      Best regard,
      Erik de Jong,
      sy “Bagheera”

      Reply
    • Matt September 19, 2013, 10:46 am

      Dry chemical extinguishers do make one awful mess. (Not nearly as much of a mess as fire makes, of course, but it’s still not fun to clean up.) It’s not particularly bad for your health, unless you breathe in a lot of the pure powder.

      I don’t particularly like compressed CO2 extinguishers, for two reasons. One is that they work by displacing oxygen, so setting one off in a confined space (like an engine room) will displace your breathing air too. The other is that, while they work very well on liquid and gas fires, they have a very forceful blast that can scatter burning ash around. (CO2 extinguishers are class BC only, not for use on class A solid fires, for this reason.)

      Budget permitting, I would go with a plumbed-in system using a halocarbon like FM-200 or FE-36. That’s clean, it won’t kill you, and it won’t harm any previously undamaged equipment. You can get FE-36 in portable extinguishers but they are about four times the price of comparable ABC dry chemical ones.

      Reply
  • Colin Speedie September 19, 2013, 9:19 am

    Hi Matt

    Great piece, and good advice.

    From my own experience with outfitting commercially coded boats in the UK, here are a few thoughts that might be helpful.

    The big foam (13A/113B) AFFF units are effective, but most of them are not made for domestic use, not marine, i.e they lack proper securing straps. In order to install one below decks on Pelerin we had a proper mounting and securing bracket made in stainless steel to stop the thing from flying free and maiming someone in a knockdown. Unless you can find one with a proper bracket, think of budgeting to make one.

    The engine room units you mention are indeed expensive – at least the good ones, with adequate capacity. The cheap ones are too small, and I’ve seen the ‘bubble’ trigger mechanism fall apart on one. The better ones with the combustible tube/fuse cable are expensive – but worth it.

    A good quality fire blanket in the galley is a must-have, and required for coded boats.

    I think it’s a good idea to have at least one bigger fire extinguisher in a cockpit locker – fire on a GRP/ply interior boat is going to release some seriously toxic fumes, and as the standard command is to get on deck as fast as possible, who’s going to hang around or return below decks to retrieve the fire extinguisher(s)? At least if you’ve got one safely to hand on deck you can buy some time with it, and get ready for your next move.

    And I’d totally endorse your suggestion that attending a fire course is a good policy, not least because it makes you realise just how difficult it is to deal with even simple fires.

    Best wishes

    Colin

    Reply
  • Ernie Reuter September 19, 2013, 10:50 am

    Hi Matt….thanks for the great post. We also have a fire blanket close by to the galley, which in a pinch, would help to suppress a fire. It certainly would have to be used with caution so as not to endanger ourselves by getting too close to the flames but it is one additional weapon in the arsenal.
    After reading your post, we will upgrade with a couple of extra 5 lb ers to complement the 2 that we already have…..thanks again for the seed plant in the brain…
    Ernie & Bette
    S/V Iemanja
    BTV

    Reply
  • Dick Stevenson September 19, 2013, 12:03 pm

    Matt,
    An excellent post. Thanks.
    A few thoughts, not in any particular order:
    The first thought notices that I tricked out Alchemy, to the best of my ability and budget, 12+ years ago in this area. Over years complacency kicks in and I find it harder to get energized to be on top of safety systems like fire prevention, especially since I have not been in home waters (familiar resources) for a long time now. It is easy to put off so your article will be a useful tickler for me.
    Next, what do others do? We turn and tap dry chemical extinguishers monthly and (try) to get them re-charged every few years. We have thought about active “fire drills” but have never gotten around to making that happen. We have shot off extinguishers at fires at Safety at Sea type get-togethers.
    The only 2 boat fires I have actually been near were both alcohol stoves. One was spread widely and dangerously by the introduction of solid water (small bucket). The other was neatly put out by using a shower bag (the black kind one puts on deck to get hot) and its shower nozzle.
    The 2 serious boat destroying fires (I did not see, but came across after) were both owners who left their gensets going unattended.
    We have regular household type smoke detectors in the engine room and above the electrical distribution panel in the saloon. So far nothing serious: with the latter, burned toast will give us a test run. The engine room will give us a bit of advance warning that the Eberspracher is starting to burn dirty or a fan belt is slipping. The alarm comes well before any human senses give warning which is re-assuring.
    Again thanks, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy, Hoorn, The Netherlands

    Reply
  • Steve Hodges September 19, 2013, 12:09 pm

    Thank you for a well written and informative article.

    Just as staying aboard is the best way to deal with crew overboard, the best approach to fire protection is to not have one! Effective fire prevention, like staying aboard, is a product of situational awareness and good practices. As the article points out, following safety standards is very important. So is common sense: separating flammables and ignition sources, maintenance of the galley, heaters and machinery, etc. But accidents happen so it pays to be prepared.

    The choice of fire suppression agent is not a black and white one, and has been made more complicated by the shift to more environmentally aware practices, especially concerning ‘clean’ gaseous agents. The production of one of the most effective agents, Halon 1301, was banned by the Montreal Protocol because it is a significant ozone depleting substance (like Freons). HFC-227ea (DuPont trade name FM200) is a successful Halon 1301 replacement but has several drawbacks: approximately 40% more is required wrt Halon 1301 and, though it has no ozone depletion potential, it is a significant green house gas – pound for pound its global warming potential is about 3000 times that of CO2. FK-5-1-12 (3M trade name Novec 1230) has no ozone depletion potential and a global warming potential only a little higher than CO2, but a lot more of it is needed in order to be effective compared to FM200.
    But both FM200 and Novec have a serious downside that is not often mentioned but well known to anyone that is trained to use them against a serious fire: toxic gas production. Both materials are heavily fluorinated and when exposed to flame temperatures their byproducts include carbonyl fluouride (COF2) and hydrofluoric acid (HF). COF2 is a cousin of phosgene (COCl) and, like phosgene and HF, a highly toxic gas. In a fire suppression scenario COF2 tends to break down into HF and other gases within a minute or so, but can exist long enough to be inhaled. The effects can be insidious: while in the excitement of fire fighting, inhalation of HF and COF2 gases may cause minor irritation and coughing, but several hours or a day later, serious, life-threatening pulmonary edema may occur. If you use these agents against a fire, and don’t have self contained breathing apparatus, hold your breath! The more challenging the fire suppression scenario, the more likely serious levels of toxic gases will form.

    So what agent is the ‘best’ fire extinguisher choice? My choice has been to maintain my ancient Halon 1301 extinguishers as long as practical, which means until they are used or leak. The already installed replacements are dry chemical extinguishers, sodium bicarbonate for the galley and monoammonium phosphate for the engine bay. My reason for not choosing CO2 is the size and weight of the extinguishers, and the extreme variation of pressure with temperature. If I had a larger boat, I’d have CO2 extinguishers aboard. The risk of asphyxiation when using CO2 in a confined space is real but not as serious as some think: fires are more easily quenched by reduced oxygen levels than humans. I would certainly choose CO2 as a handheld extinguishing agent over FM200 or Novec.

    Finally, I think it is wise to be wary of fire or flame retardant materials. This is current area of active debate and policy. The retardant additives are generally toxic and it is not clear that they are a net benefit, especially to those that don’t fall asleep on a couch while smoking. There is also a general tradeoff between flame retardency and generation of smoke and toxic gases: when exposed to fire temperatures, flame retardant materials produce more smoke and toxic fumes than the untreated material.

    Steve Hodges
    S/V Frolic

    Reply
    • Matt September 20, 2013, 12:32 pm

      Steve, thanks for adding this great information.

      Just a thought… by the time a fire is big enough to turn clean agents into appreciable quantities of nasty active fluorine compounds, the fire’s probably big enough that an untrained person would be unable to put it out. A fire that size would, I think, be an “abandon ship” scenario on many small yachts. Perhaps a fire small enough that a handheld extinguisher will work tends to be small enough that you can kill it without breathing too much of the smoke and other nasties?

      Reply
      • steve September 20, 2013, 3:28 pm

        Matt – Thanks for the feedback. The answer to your question is ‘it depends.’ Fires and people are notoriously unpredictable. However, toxic byproducts are an inevitable result of the initial interaction of flourinated compounds and fire. This is also true for brominated and chlorinated compounds like the Halons. But unlike Halon, which has a significant chemical effect on extinguishing a fire, the fluorinated, clean-agent replacements (FM200, FE36, Novec) rely on their thermal properties to suppress fires. In the process of suppressing the fire, some of the fluorinated agent always combusts and produces potentially toxic gas. If the clean-agent extinguisher is challenged by the fire, more agent burns and more toxic byproducts are produced. Generally, the faster the fire is extinguished the less byproduct. How big a fire a person will fight, for how long, and how effectively depends a great deal on that person’s preparedness, training, personality and state of mind. The dose of the toxic cocktail an unprotected fire fighter receives will depend on all that plus whatever the devil in the details is, for example, what the air movement is. As suggested in an earlier comment, anyone really concerned about their ability to fight fires should get some training from a professional, the fire department or the coast guard. Steve

        Reply
  • Dick Stevenson September 19, 2013, 12:17 pm

    Steve, When we started wandering more widely, I did some research (forgotten the details now) which indicated serious level fines in some countries if caught with Halon. I have no idea where things stand now. Thanks for the further details you provided. Dick

    Reply
  • Steve Hodges September 19, 2013, 12:31 pm

    Dick – Thanks for the tip. I knew that halon extinguishers “may not be vented to the atmosphere during testing, maintaining, servicing or training. Failure to maintain equipment to prevent accidental discharge is unlawful” but wasn’t aware that possessing a halon extinguisher was unlawful in some countries. I will be sure to understand that issue before I leave the states. Steve

    Reply
  • David September 19, 2013, 12:33 pm

    Great post Matt. That’s the clearest description of fire extinguisher capabilities I’ve seen.

    What about use and location of fire extinguisher ports? Should we jam the extinguisher through and empty it, or use bursts, or sweep around? Are there guidelines for their location? Would adding one to a battery locker be a good idea for keeping out oxygen or a bad idea as maybe it would be better to open up the locker to help disburse the hydrogen?

    David
    svTigress

    Reply
  • Steve Hodges September 19, 2013, 12:46 pm

    An interesting complementary article to this one just appeared in my inbox: http://bwsailing.com/cc/2012/01/18/how-to-kill-a-boat-fire-in-less-than-30-seconds/

    Also I left two thoughts out in my original post:
    - My comments regarding FM200 and Novec 1230 apply to FE36 (HFC-236fa), a halon 1211 replacement. FE36 has zero ozone depletion potential but, like FM200, very high global warming potential.
    - The plastic brackets that often come with handheld extinguishers, as shown in the picture, are best replaced with robust metal ones – usually available as an option. And in the fine print, note that USCG approval is for the extinguisher when mounted in the metal bracket, not the plastic one! (I don’t know about other countries….)

    Reply
    • Matt September 20, 2013, 11:20 am

      Re. brackets. A twenty pound metal cylinder flying across the cabin is quite definitively in the Not Cool category. Upgrading to metal brackets that are good for a >3g shock load is certainly a good idea.

      Re. global warming potential. Yes, the new halocarbons are bad for this (about 20 tons CO2 equivalent for the hand-held units we’re talking about here). But all the fire suppression agents used worldwide are a pretty tiny component compared to the fuel we burn in our day-to-day activities…. or to the CO2 and toxic pollutants released by a fire that isn’t extinguished in time.

      Reply
  • Carolyn Shearlock - The Boat Galley September 19, 2013, 7:50 pm

    I’ve written several articles about fighting fires onboard over the past year and thought about it quite a bit. I’m thrilled to see your post and the Cruising Compass article on it as I think too many people simply put the extinguishers on the boat and figure that’s all they need to do.

    One thing that really surprises most people who use a fire extinguisher in a real-life situation is how quickly they are used up. The typical size that’s on a boat is empty in just 10 seconds!

    For galley fires, a fire blanket is actually of more use than a fire extinguisher, with the added benefit of no mess to clean up and no risk to nearby electronics. http://theboatgalley.com/fire-blanket/

    But a real key is just to think through various scenarios and what you’d do. Not just how to fight the fire, but when to call for help (assuming there is help available), when to abandon ship, and when (if at a dock) to tow it away from other boats. A few of my thoughts — but I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination: http://theboatgalley.com/fire-aboard/

    Love this discussion!

    Reply
  • John September 20, 2013, 8:40 am

    Rats, rats, rats! Something else to add to the to-do list for this winter: complete inspection and analysis of our fire extinguishers. Matt, this is all your fault.

    Well not all. Dick, you share some of the blame for your clear eyed admission and analysis of the complacency that can set in. I too went through the whole thing 10 years ago and have not given it the attention it deserves since.

    And as for you, Steve, now instead of just saying to myself that all is OK because we have extinguishers that use one of the gasses that replaced Halon, I now need to actually think about which gas they are filled with–phosgene, who knew?

    Seriously, thanks to all of you for a timely wake up call and some great information. Much appreciated! The combined wisdom that you three, and all of our other readers that comment, have is humbling.

    Reply
  • Michael September 20, 2013, 9:08 am

    To All Sailors,
    I was in a boat fire and lucky to be alive. One thing that most owners miss is how fires get started. I have seen gas stored in cabins or in lockers with no ventilation. Why put your lives at risk ? Diesel burns but does not explode. Store gasoline (petrol) with common sense. All sailors need to use common sense too. Smoking even on deck can be dangerous. All the safety equipment is good but just be aware of how fires get started.

    Reply
  • Erik de Jong September 20, 2013, 9:28 am

    Quite a few accident have happened over the years, followed by almost as much investigation as to “how to”. Class societies have rules that dictate how a classed vessel is to be build. Fire safety is a huge issue in these rules.

    Yachts however are seldom subject to such approval, but for a serious offshore yacht, I think it is worth while to read through the rules and implement anything from these rules on your own vessel that you realistically can, and a lot of accidents that you cant possibly think of in this stage, can be prevented from happening, of the risk thereof can be significantly reduced.

    The rules are often published online and are free in some cases.
    DNV: https://exchange.dnv.com/publishing/RulesShip/RulesShip.asp
    ABS: http://www.eagle.org/eagleExternalPortalWEB/appmanager/absEagle/absEagleDesktop?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=abs_eagle_portal_marine_rules_guides_download_page

    Some rules are easy to implement on an existing vessel, some are impossible or extremely expensive. But all in all, read it through, it will only take a couple of hours, and you will get some great ideas to make your own vessel saver.

    Reply
  • Lars Erik Karlsen September 20, 2013, 12:49 pm

    Hi
    Very importent article about fire onboard, but why is not Bontel mentioned?
    A simple and cheap solution that kills fire when heat reach 90 dgr C without any damage. One glass ampull is enough in a room of 8 m3. You can easily put them in the engineroom, behind electric panels, together with batteries and so on. Works automatic and has 10 years warranty. Google Bontel and see for yourself.
    best regards
    Lars Erik

    Reply
    • Brian Engle September 26, 2013, 9:11 pm

      At first glance, there is very little independent literature available on the Net about Bontel. Sounds interesting. Has this product been independently tested?

      Reply
  • Michael September 20, 2013, 10:23 pm

    Matt,

    Thanks for the post. I wish more people mentioned fire prevention on the blogs and sites when they go about posting lists of improvmetns made to their vessels.

    My own experience was with a fire on board an aircraft and let me tell you, when things get going it happens fast. In our case it was wiring that caught fire behind a circuit breaker panel which was eventually extinguished by removing power to the bus bar feeding the circuit and thanks to modern materials, the wire self extinguished after the power was cut . The whole series of events happened pretty quickly, and thankfully all was good afterwards. It was an adrenaline rush to say the least and what I remember most was the smoke. It was terrible, and took no time filling up the cockpit. The stench was unbarable, and the smoke caused so much pain to my eyes and nose. Can’t even begin to describe it. Sandpaper scraping you’re eyes might be close though. The oxygen mask and smoke goggles are for sure the only reason we all stayed in the game.

    Which brings me to my own conclusions about heading out to sea. I would not leave port without some sort of smoke hood. These can be purchased for as little as $ 180 dollars from most aviation supply stores and have the ability to protect you’re eyes and give around 15 minutes of clean air. Life saving devices for sure.

    As for our equipment. Each cabin has a hard wired heat/smoke detector with battery backup. Engine room has an automatic engine shutdown and fire suppression system along with heat and smoke sensors. Fire extinguishers are all halon and of appropriate size. But most importantly, every cabin has a PBE ( Smoke hood) and axe. Trust me, it’s seriously hard to fight a fire with you’re eyes closed. And sometimes you have to use the axe to punch a hole in something to spray agent ( i.e. you’re electrical cabinet or engine compartment. ). Smoke is serious. Much worse that the actual fire because the smoke is whats going to force you out of the tight quarters of you’re boat rendering you unable to fight the fire. Thus swimming in deep water or hanging out in the plush accommodations of you’re switlik :0)

    That’s it for my rant. I’m not passionate about much with regards to refits, but I feel strongly about the above topic. Folks give this stuff a passing glance more often than not and it could cost them dearly.

    Thanks for the venue to speak Matt.. Hopefully the story will resonate with someone.

    Regards,

    Michael

    Reply
  • VFerreira September 20, 2013, 10:37 pm

    Yachting Monthly did a video test on firefighting aboard their crash test boat. It’s a must see and an eye opener.

    I was terrified by the dry powder. It can easily kill you!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aL_VdzjM-24

    Reply

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