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Old 28-11-2010, 16:43   #1
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You Know What Doesn't Go Well with Boats? Fire!

Last night we set our boat on fire. Oops. Thankfully, everything and everyone is ok, but it was quite the scare. It was the typical chimney fire, in which the creosote build-up above the stove caught. We were still in a marina so were able to put it out with a combination of fire extinguishers and the hose (thereby soaking all the newly laundered and stowed settees and linens in the throw pillows).

Full details here: OMGWTFFIIIIRE!!!1! | Picaroon Blog
and here:
Picaroon Blog | BETTER DROWNED THAN DUFFERS IF NOT DUFFERS WONT DROWN.
Anyone else out there have experience with a fire? Were you in a marina? What did you do?
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Old 28-11-2010, 17:59   #2
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Glad to hear there was no real damage.

I'll take a rash guess that all seven of your extinguishers are "USCG Marine Approved" ones, and suggest that you want to rethink that. As you've found out the dry powder extinguishers make a real mess. You'll probably be finding yellow powder in the bilge and all sorts of odd places for the next two months. Check under the upholstery.

I've got a mix of types. One halon that miraculously hasn't leaked in all its years, and a couple of CO2 bottles that are my "go to" first choice. CO2 doesn't make any mess, if it is suitable for your problem it is worth using! I have no idea what they cost these days, mine followed me home (honest) over the years. Refills probably run $20-30 so the $10 throw-away yellow powder certainly is cheaper.

Then there's a relatively new one, wet foam. Not the old soda extinguishers, but a new foam that smothers pretty well. Sold in 2-3 packs reasonably in the big box hardware stores.

And something very new, for small fires: "Tundra". Looks like a big can of hair spray and says it sprays "potassium lactate" but seems to be a relatively clean and non-toxic alternative for small fires if you catch them fast. About $12/can in the hardware stores or, apparently, $13/2 cans at WalMart.

BTW that yellow powder can be an irritant, even if you've ventilated the boat, make a point to really ventilate it well in the next few days, get that crap out so you don't inhale more of it. If you have a leaf blower (on a boat, sure<G>) chase the stuff away with it.
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Old 28-11-2010, 18:35   #3
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i had a fire on my boat-- the old 3k honda genny decided to let go one night-- neighbors on the way by called on fone and told me my bbq was "flaming nicely"--i sed i wasnt bbq'ing--LOl we screamed genny is on fire and i ran with extinguisher and doused the thing while pulling the cord--lol-- no damage to boat-- just i didnt have a genny any more....also no more heat in winter.
goood luck and may the gods be watching over ye....get new extinguishers and shake em every so often to keep em good..if they do not shake-- they dont work.
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Old 23-12-2010, 10:37   #4
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This is horrifying
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Old 23-12-2010, 10:42   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gettysborg View Post
This is horrifying
fire on a boat is the most scary thing you can go thru-- water coming in is less scary. water can be stopped. fire is a lil tougher. ye need to know how to use fire extinguishers without panocking. you need to knw hw to find the source of the fire without panicking and put it out--- you guys did good. you still have a boat. awesome work. so the linens are wet-lol is a blessing-- ye still HAVE them!!! goood work and smooth sailing----
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Old 23-12-2010, 11:20   #6
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had an interesting situation last year trying to start a very old/shot genset.
spraying wd 40 into the air filter had the thing flash back and set the air filter on fire.
yelled for a fire extinguisher,owner was just out side engine room,1st one didnt work,yelled for 2nd extinguisher,this one didnt work either flames and smoke getting quite high by now,fourtunately third co2 worked very well,fortunately no damage apart from foam insert in air filter.

lessons learned, remove tube between engine and air filter spray direct into air intake,any flash back has no fuel to burn.
make sure your extinguishers are in date and readily available,and have plenty...
when you need them you will need them quick.
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Old 23-12-2010, 11:54   #7
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A lot of spray propellants use propane or similar combustible gas. WD40 isn't really starting fluid, it is pretty much kerosene "and" propane propellant, IIRC. Of course starting ether can really ruin your day too.

"co2 worked very well" They are rather more expensive than dry powder extinguishers, but I'd call them more reliable. Either there is gas in them--and they work--or there isn't. And there's a "filled weight" and "net weight" on each one, so all you have to do is WEIGH IT once or twice a year. No weight loss? Then it is still full and will work.

I've seen them go 10-20 years with no gas loss. (Memo, thank someone for building a quality product!)

When you're working with fire or things that might start a fire, it's not such a bad idea to grab an extinguisher, PULL THE PIN, and keep it next to you in case you need it "NOW NOW NOW". Even better to have someone else standing there holding it.

The average dry powder extinguisher can put out a "small waste basket" worth of fire, and the typical home/kitchen fire (on land) doubles in size every 30 seconds, so "NOW" really counts.
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Old 23-12-2010, 13:48   #8
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Just a bit of my background: Along with being a lic Captain for 30 years, I've also been a firefighter/paramedic for 23 of them... so here's a little fire extinguisher primer:

In simple terms fire has 3 components: Heat, Fuel, and Oxygen; remove any 1 and the fire goes out! Fire extinguishers are designed to do just that. Water is very effective at removing heat, CO2, Chloroflourocarbons (Halon etc) and Dry chem work well to displace oxygen. In addition the chloroflourocarbons (and some dry chemicals) work on the chemical chain reaction of a fire.

Even though there are A,B,C "rated" fire extinguishers, none are the end-all-cure-all to put out a fire. For instance, fire extinguishers are rated by the number of square feet of fire they will extinguish in the hands of an "experienced user". The 1A, 10BC extinguisher will extinguish ONE square foot of ordinary combustibles and 10 square feet of Oil or Electrical; it meets USCG criteria as a B-1, but for all practical purposes is useless on all but the most incipient fires.

On my boat, I have a 10#CO2 (My go to extinguisher for galley or "contained" engine room fires), A permanent automatic engine room mounted fluorocarbon extinguisher, 2 small 5#ABC and one 10#ABC. For simple class A fires, my salt or fresh water hoses are best.

REMEMBER: Fire needs a minimum of 16% oxygen to survive; coincidently, SO DO YOU! If you use an oxygen displacing extinguisher in an enclosed place GET OUT!

If any member here is interested (and in the vicinity of Key West), I hold a fire extinguisher, and first responder fire hose class for the live-aboards in my marina once a year or so... I'll post up well in advance of the next one.... BTW, it is free!
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Old 23-12-2010, 14:10   #9
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Quote:
Anyone else out there have experience with a fire?
We live across the creek from a good sized marina and they have had several fires. Most are electrically ignited and that is nationally true for 80% of all boat fires. Most have no one aboard when they start. It means they get discovered a tad on the late side. First order is to cut the dock lines and push the boat away from the dock. It happened near here that they didn't discover it and lost 25 boats from the one fire. Dock fires should scare you big time.

So if your boat gets on fire and isn't controlled almost immediately it's likely the lines will be cut and it will burn for hours out in the channel. Once the fiberglass gets going it really is hard to put out fire without a fire boat. Garden hoses are a waste of water. Saving the rest of the marina becomes the critical decision. The added downside is of course your boat is a total loss but the hull that sunk is an environmental problem you now own 100%.
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Old 23-12-2010, 15:06   #10
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we had a gasoline engine fire on a 32 coronado a while back-- that thing burned with the blackest smoke i have seen-- very spectacular...for hours...atomic 4 with old cracked fuel hoses.. check hoses before starting engine....
i worked sports car races as corner / course wrker-- did fire,, medical, flags.. lol was a gas...between thgat and hospitals, i was gooood at stopping fires...
boat owners really should be familiar with fire fighting so the task is almost automatic-- had my reactions been off, i would have lost this boat when that generator flamed out....as it was, i lost less than 1mmx1cm of paint--surface scorch.
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Old 23-12-2010, 15:58   #11
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There are products in every woodburning stove shop that are to be thrown in the fire box in case of chiminy fire. If you catch the runnaway stove before the fire spreads they work. The best bet with wood is to only burn dry hardwood and check/clean your pipe often. Coal and charcoal should present little creosote problems. Be sure to have a spark arrester on the cap and the area clear.

Glad to hear you made it with no serious loss!
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Old 23-12-2010, 17:37   #12
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Thanks, everyone! We actually had SEVEN marine-rated fire extinguishers on board, which ended up being a good thing because we had ANOTHER fire. Granted, it was an itty-bitty electrical fire, but scary nonetheless. I'm tired of fires!
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Old 23-12-2010, 19:12   #13
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dang guys--ye can TEACH the fire class.....
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Old 23-12-2010, 21:05   #14
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Been on boats on fire twice - both electrical

One was a wave going down below and landing on the electrical panel (located below an openable cockpit portlight would you believe)

The other was on my own boat - steering cables wore through ingition wire over many years and set my compass binacle on fire. Melted the engine control cables - so no engine either.

The first one was obvious. The second one took a long time before I realised what was going on. The first I noticed was that the engine revs changed unexplicably, so I played with the throttle lever, which I noticed was all loose and hot. After popping up and down the hatch to check the engine, which looked fine, I remember standing at the wheel, staring at the binacle, which had bubbling paint by this time thinking "It can't be on fire, it's metal" Then the plastic housing for the engine instruments & ignition slowly melted off the binacle and it dawned on me - "ahh....electrical"

I really am quite slow sometimes
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Old 23-12-2010, 21:30   #15
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Originally Posted by heatherbrie View Post
Last night we set our boat on fire. Oops. Thankfully, everything and everyone is ok, but it was quite the scare. It was the typical chimney fire, in which the creosote build-up above the stove caught. We were still in a marina so were able to put it out with a combination of fire extinguishers and the hose (thereby soaking all the newly laundered and stowed settees and linens in the throw pillows).

Full details here: OMGWTFFIIIIRE!!!1! | Picaroon Blog
and here:
Picaroon Blog | BETTER DROWNED THAN DUFFERS IF NOT DUFFERS WONT DROWN.
Anyone else out there have experience with a fire? Were you in a marina? What did you do?
I think you just used up one of your cat lives.
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