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Old 12-05-2017, 13:02   #1
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Fire Extinguisher Discussion

Now that I've solved some of the mysteries of my electrical system on another thread with lots of assistance from some very persistent problem solvers here on CF, it's time to move on to fire extinguishers.

Our yacht probably has at least 15 fire extinguishers onboard which all read in the green zone on the circular gauge. I have no idea how old these things are? I'd planned on buying a few this season just to be sure I had something that worked when the SHTF like it did three years ago when we had an electric engine fire onboard.

Short of firing off each one.... are the extinguishers still any good? What happens when they go bad, is the stuff inside all packed down?

Tomorrow, I might take one or two outside and see if they work.

What to do?
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Old 12-05-2017, 13:11   #2
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Re: Fire Extinguisher Discussion

Make sure you invert them and give them a shake. The powder can pack down over time.
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Old 12-05-2017, 13:16   #3
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Re: Fire Extinguisher Discussion

When I shake 'em, I don't feel anything moving inside. Am I supposed to feel the internal contents move around?
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Old 12-05-2017, 13:17   #4
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Re: Fire Extinguisher Discussion

Does it have a year stamped on the bottom?
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Old 12-05-2017, 13:42   #5
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Re: Fire Extinguisher Discussion

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Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
When I shake 'em, I don't feel anything moving inside. Am I supposed to feel the internal contents move around?
It's very subtle. Because they're pretty full of powder, it doesn't move much. But yeah, I can feel it, Just.

Edit: I am guilty of assuming they're dry powder type.
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Old 12-05-2017, 13:48   #6
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Re: Fire Extinguisher Discussion

Yes, multipurpose dry chemical. How long are these things good for?
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Old 12-05-2017, 14:01   #7
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Re: Fire Extinguisher Discussion

If you are replacing, or adding, the ones with the hose attached are much more functional. You are more likely to hit the base of the fire with hose in your hand.
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Old 12-05-2017, 14:04   #8
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Re: Fire Extinguisher Discussion

There is a manufacture date somewhere on the cylinder but no expiration dates for private uses. In commercial applications it's recommended or required that a "stored" pressure extinguisher which requires hydrostatic testing every 12 years be completely disassembled and refilled every 6 years, if it's un-serviceable it should be replaced.
In practice failure rate is extremely low and most often would involve an extinguisher that had been partially discharged and then used later. Here's a page from Kidde on reading manufacture dates.
Manufacturing Date on Fire Extinguishers | Kidde
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Old 12-05-2017, 14:04   #9
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Re: Fire Extinguisher Discussion

I've heard that the powder packing isn't as big a problem as we've believed. I still turn mine over and tap it when ever I think to do it. If I was going to fight fire, I'd probably turn it over and shake or tap it before I pulled the trigger.

You arrow is in the green, I'd say it's still good.
Don't test fire it. Powdered will get on the seal and cause it to leak.

If it ever gets fired, even for a second or two, it will need to be recharged or more likely replaced. Replacement of those with plastic valves is usually cheaper than recharge.
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Old 12-05-2017, 14:08   #10
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Re: Fire Extinguisher Discussion

How long is hard to say. I've had the dry Chems pack the powder down and not discharge and I've had them work just fine at 15 years old.

If it was me, I'd take a sample, one from the bow, one from midships and one from the stern. Fire these, if they work, great, buy three new ones. If the one from the bow is shot and the one situated further aft are ok, then you can make an educated decision.

We've only got two on ou boat, so it's easy for me to just get two more when they're possibly too old.
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Old 12-05-2017, 14:15   #11
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Re: Fire Extinguisher Discussion

I would start with an inventory of the ones you have and then think about the types of fires you may have to deal with on board. Engine / Fuel/ Gas / Galley / saloon furniture / batteries.

Having spent a couple of weeks being trained in fire fighting duties I am a great believer in AFFF. More expensive this side of the pond but doesn't cause the mess a powder extinguisher will.

You probably also have sufficient room to store bigger extinguishers because those little hand held types run for just a couple of seconds and they are empty.

What have you got in the engine space? hopefully one of those auto clean gas types that replaced the Halon types a few years back.

On a 31ft yacht we carry in addition to the bucket, 2 x powder 1.5kgs. 1 x 2L AFFF, 1 x engine room clean gas Ext, and a fire blanket for the kitchen, oh and a smoke detector.

Just looking at the prices for 6 and 9 litre AFFF, they are cheap enough to carry a couple in a locker

http://www.safefiredirect.co.uk/fire...nguishers.aspx

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Old 12-05-2017, 14:32   #12
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Re: Fire Extinguisher Discussion

I recall reading a report where several of the smaller extinguishers failed to work, despite the gauge still showing green.

Since you have had a fire onboard before....

Since you are unsure of how old they are, I would replace them ALL with new ones (and select a mix of types appropriate for the space located), marking each with the date purchased, if the date manufactured is not shown.

Give the old ones to some less fortunate cruisers for free, noting they are old, and use at own risk.

Or, fire off all 15 old ones and video and document the results. Write the Manufacturer and ask for replacement for those that failed the test. Publish the test here.
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Old 12-05-2017, 14:45   #13
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Re: Fire Extinguisher Discussion

With my luck, I'd fire one off to test it.... then have an asthma attack and die.
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Old 12-05-2017, 15:03   #14
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Re: Fire Extinguisher Discussion

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
With my luck, I'd fire one off to test it.... then have an asthma attack and die.


It's like peeing into the wind. TThere'sa right way and a wrong way!
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Old 12-05-2017, 15:13   #15
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Re: Fire Extinguisher Discussion

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With my luck, I'd fire one off to test it.... then have an asthma attack and die.

Who says you don't have a sense of humor? LOL
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But, I was serious about replacing ALL of the unknown age extinguishers.

Peace of mind is priceless.
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