Always carry at leat one LARGE fire extinguisher.
By large, I mean a 10 or 20-lb dry chemical or a 15 to 20-lb CO2. They can easily be stowed in a cockpit
locker or mounted on a bulkhead below decks. These are professional grade pieces of fire fighting equipment
and can be bought 2nd hand at a fire extinguisher re-charging shop for about 1/3 to 1/2 the price
of a new unit.
My second definition of "large" is two or more 5-lb dry chemicals, but you really want +10-lbs.
If you have a large below deck
fire, or a large cockpit
fire from spilled fuel
, you will need the extra size to deal with it.
While dry chemical is the fastest acting of all fire extinguishing agents (Purple-K being the fastest), it must be applied directly onto the fire - not into the general area or the smoke.
The larger C02 extinguishers can be used for a "total flooding" application where the agent can be directed into the general area (direct application is still the best) and it will creep into lockers, bilge
The only fault with total flooding is that you can die from lack of oxygen if you enter a "flooded" area.
All of the Halon off shoots (Halatrons etc) and the "old" Halons 1211 & 1301 can also be used for total flooding with a slightly higher degree of safety
- but still pose significant hazards.
People always complain about the mess dry chem makes, but do you want a burned up boat and end up floating around in a liferaft
, or do you want to put the fire out? Dry chem is easily cleaned up with a vaccum cleaner.
Other big complains are the size. One of the attached pictures shows a 2, 2-3/4, 5 and 10-lb dry chem extinguisher. There isn't that much of a size difference for so much more fire protection.
The other pictures show a 2-1/2-lb Purple-K extinguisher and a 5-lb ABC extinguisher dealing with the same fire. Each extinguisher put out the same fire at least twice before running out of powder - so there is a 100% safety
No matter what extinguisher you use, you will always need to use water
at some point in time to help reduce the fire size, or to completely extinguish any remaining smoldering embers. So have a bucket with a lanyard ready for use!
You can use water
on any electrical
fire dealing with 32-volts or less with complete safety. You may destroy the electronics
(the fire will probably have already done that!), but you will extinguish the burning matter.
With any electrical
fire, you MUST always shut off the power or disconnect the batteries to insure total extinguishment.
AND, you must practice using fire fighting equipment! While fire extinguishers are simple to use, extinguishing a fire with them is NOT always the case! They only last about 12-seconds, so you have to know what you are doing and what the extinguisher can do BEFORE you use it on a fire.