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Old 05-03-2014, 12:01   #1
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Portable Fire Pump Experience

I'm writting an article on carrying/using small (1-inch) gasoline powered portable fire pumps onboard boats.

Anyone out there carry one or every use one on a fire or for de-watering?

If so, would you PM me and include some details about the pump, the event, what went right or wrong and pictures if you have any.

The 1-inch pump I carried extinguished one boat fire in Gibralter years ago and dewatered four others in various parts of the world, so they are a handy thing to have onboard.

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Old 06-03-2014, 14:55   #2
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Re: Portable Fire Pump experience

I can't believe that no one else carries one of these pumps! Surely someone else has used one.

Well if no one has ever used a pump, has anyone ever used buckets for fighting a fire on a boat? How did that go?

Or does anyone have any pictures of a fire while the boat is at anchor?
Pictures of the fire fighting efforts?

Not being goulish, just trying to get some information!


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Old 06-03-2014, 15:14   #3
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Re: Portable Fire Pump Experience

I've though about getting a small 120V submersible pump and using it as an emergency bilge pump.

The idea of a fire pump is good. The problem with boat fires is by the time you tried every thing else and then need to get the fire pump out, suction hose in the water, discharge hose hooked up and starting it up, the fire has gotten a bit out of hand. plus gasoline would make me nervous with a fire on board. The problem with fire pumps in general is about half the time, they've sat for so long unused that they sometimes just don't work. I've designed a fair number for fire pumps for buildings too.

Why fire men hook up their pumper truck before sending firemen inside a building with a fire pump.
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Old 06-03-2014, 20:18   #4
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Re: Portable Fire Pump Experience

We have a Harbor Freight gas powered pump similar to this one:

3 in. Full Trash Pump with 212cc Gas Engine

With it, we carry 200' of hose and a strainer.

I've used it for dewatering basements and other areas; the only time it's seen shipboard usage was for a parade display water fountain.
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Old 06-03-2014, 22:01   #5
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Re: Portable Fire Pump Experience

I was once on a boat that caught fire. It was a very small fire caused when an electrical component on the engine over heated.

The plastic potting material in the component started melting and burning. There was a small stream of burning goo flowing into the bilge.

We discharged a typical dry chemical extinguisher on the fire. The fire went out briefly then came back. We discharged a second extinguisher with the same results.

A near by boat passed us a large expensive halon extinguisher that we were about to use when the boat owner brought a pot of water, from the galley, and put the fire out for good.

One pot of water did what about 4 pounds of dry chemical couldn't.
Of course if it had been burning gasoline or oil, the water might have just spread the fire.

I've thought about carrying a gasoline driven pump on my boat but decided it was very unlikely I would need it and I just don't have room to carry one. If I had a bigger boat, I'd give it some more thought.

If I did decide to carry one, I'd convert it to propane. Propane powered engines can sit unused for long periods of time and still be relied on to start. You can store propane almost forever without it going bad.

Right now if I want water to put out a fire, I'll grab the wash down hose and hope the electric pump is still working. Buckets are also an option.
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Old 08-03-2014, 20:30   #6
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Re: Portable Fire Pump Experience

Hi - Thanks for the input so far.

I carry my 1-inch pump more for de-watering our boat if we were holed, but would use it for fire fighting too. Water is an excellent agent, it's free and available in unlimited quantities!

I use a Honda WX-10 1-inch pump because it is very small and lightweight, yet gives good pumping capacity for its size (37-gpm).

Primairly I have always carried one in case someone else's boat catches on fire while they are at anchor. This happens way more than people think and most of the time there is not a functional fire boat/pump nearby. The recent fire in Grenada is an unfortunate example.

I have also read articles of people putting at a good size fire on a boat at anchor with buckets, so while an old low tech method of doing it, it still gets the job done!

The fire I used it on occurred in Gibralter. It was a 45-ft ketch on a mooring with no one onboard. The fresh water pump got stuck in the "on" position, emptied the tank, overheaded and set the wood paneling on fire in the galley.

I moved our boat and laid her along side and passed over the hose and nozzle. The fire was kept in check until we got it over to the dock where the fire was finally extinguished once the companion way was opened. The boat was saved although there was a lot of smoke damage.

As mentioned, you must practice getting the pump operational - hooking up hoses, priming the pump - as this does take time (about 3 to 5 minutes). You should also practice/run the pump at least every 3 months or so.

As to gasoline, it only holds about a quart of fuel and we have a automatic Halon extinguisher protecting the cockpit locker where it is stored, so that doesn't bother me too much. The larger gasoline containers are stored in the cockpit and are used mostly for fueling the outboard.

So that's some of my experience with the little pumps.

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