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Old 26-11-2005, 21:33   #1
Kai Nui
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Where does the fire extinguisher go?

My boat requires 2 fire extinguishers. I have 5 plus a suppression system in the engine compartment. When I added the 3-5 pounders I struggled with the best place to locate them. I considered the possible exits from each location, and where I would be in the most danger if a fire suddenly broke out. (stove fire, engine fire etc) I then considered the best location for access to save the boat once out of the cabin, and what extinguisher would be most usefull in this location.
The result, a 5 pound in the forward cabin, a 2.5 pound in the head, a 2.5 pound in the galley approx 6' from the stove, a5 pound in the aft cabin, and a 5 pound just inside the companionway. All at eye level. The one in the forward cabin can be reached through the forward hatch. The one in the aft cabin can be reached through a large window from the cockpit, and the companionway extinguisher of course, can be reached from the cockpit.
That is my setup. Might be perfect, might have flaws. I hope never to find out
What's yours?
Also, how do you maintain your fire extinguishers? One of the worst feelings in the world is to have a fire, grab an extinguisher, and nothing happens.
Years back I worked at a service station in Pheonix Az. I watched a fire extinguisher service truck pull into the gas station across the street and up to the pump. The driver got out, looked under the truck, and saw flames. he grabbed an extinguisher, aimed, and nothing. he tried 2 more, and by this time the cab was almost engulfed. Still sitting at the gas pump. Finally, after the 4th extinguisher did not work, he broke the head off of it and started franticly shaking the dry chem out of it onto the flames. Fortunately, the station attendant had the forsight to run out at this point with another extinguisher that worked. THe flames were extinguished, but the pucker factor was particularly high for all of us within sight of the fire. All because the driver did not have a properly serviced fire extinguisher. This could be you!
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Old 26-11-2005, 22:26   #2
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Also, how do you maintain your fire extinguishers?
Not much maintenance, them things are disposable.

5 years from date of purchase is OK.

I tried to have one serviced, but the cost was more than the price of a new one.
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Old 26-11-2005, 22:58   #3
Kai Nui
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The 2.5's are throw aways, but the 5# extinguishers are worth servucing.
Do you check them on a regular basis, or just go with the 5 year plan?
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Old 26-11-2005, 23:35   #4
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I like to give my Dry powder ones a good shake up every so often. The vibration of the boat engine makes the powder settle hard. It's amasing to see how much of a shack up it takes to losen the powder up.
I remember as a Teenager at school, we had a special fire drill and the Firebragade came and gave some demonstrations on different fires and how to deal with them. Theyhad a large tray about 3ftx3ft fill of fuel and set flame to it. They grabed the first extinguisher fom the vehicle and it failed. OK, no problem, the next was grabed and it too failed to work. By this point, there was a few red face fire crewmen in front of a lot of jeering school kids. The third unit was pulled and to great relief of the fire crew, it worked.
How this actually happend I have no idea. It was something I will never forget seeing and made me think that if it can happen to the experts, it can happen to anyone. So IMO, it pays to have several units in differing locations just like Kai Nui and to have them either inspected or replaced at regular intervals.
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Old 27-11-2005, 11:01   #5
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I have seen quite a few extinguishers fail, but that earlier anecdote was the scariest. I like your story a well Wheels. It just goes to show it can happen to anyone, anytime.
So the big question is, how have you located your extinguishers, and what is the logic?
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Old 27-11-2005, 11:47   #6
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Well for me, I have one at the galley and in easy reach to anyone in the Saloon area. It is situated such, that in the event of a cooking fire, it can be reached witout having to get near flames. This is often overlooked in such confined spaces as boat interiors. The next is in the Pilot house. It is in easy reach of anyone that may detect fire in the engine room and aft area of the boat.
Another important aspect to remember, in the event of fire, you don't want to be trapped inside. So first priority is to be able to get out. Second priority is to be able to access the extinguisher and fight the fire from either outside or at least with a path of easy exit behind you.
Another important piont. Fire needs oxygen. So if the fire is in a sealed environment, keep it sealed at all costs till you have the necessary equipment to fight it. Our engine room can be sealed off and most likely would extinguish the fire due to lack of oxygen. But if the room is hot and there is plenty of fuel for the fire, then lifting a hatch and allowing a vast quantity of oxygen into the room could be fatal.
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Old 27-11-2005, 12:00   #7
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Fire Extinguisher Maintenance

This involves several things: There is a monthly inspection tag that can be purchased from fire extinguisher co's that should be signed off monthly. I'm surprised the USCG doesn't enforce this.

1) Monthly-

a) Turn extinguisher upside down and shake until power is all loose (you can feel the difference)

b) Inspect safety seal, if broken, have tested and resealed.

c) Check nozzle for obstructions and corrosion

d) Check pressure gauge, should be in green area, have tested if not (the marine disposable will not have a gauge)

e) If rusty-Replace.

2) Yearly- except disposables

a) Have tested by "reputable" fire extinguisher repair company. They will install a new monthly tag.
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Old 27-11-2005, 13:20   #8
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Wheels, Great logic.
Delmarrey, I to am surprised that the tags are not required I have them on all my 5# units. Shaking the extinguishers is new to me. Great idea. Servicing the units is not unreasonably expensive, and well worth it. I recommend a fire port in the engine compartment. $12 part, but it will prevent a flare up if the engine compartment has a fire. I have seen a number of boats with the extinguisher mounted above the stove. Bad idea, as you will have to reach through the flames in the case of a stove fire.
Going back to the inspection tags, they are great idea, and do not cost anything. While it is easy to put off checking the extinguishers, the tag formalizes the procedure. I keep a checklist in my log, including oil checks, filter replacement and fire extinguisher checks. It seems to work for me.
One issue with maintaining extinguishers is the service schedule. The tags are annual. When I was in charge of safety for the company I worked for, we were required to have the extinguishers serviced every 12 months. I think this is more than is needed on the average cruising boat, but what would be a reasonable time period between servicing extinguishers?
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Old 28-11-2005, 02:13   #9
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All good advice.
One more point. C02 extinguishers should not be stored below decks in accommodation spaces that do not have forced air ventilation. This will severely limit where they can be stored on a sailboat but the risk of asphixiation from leaking/dischraged units is just not worth it.
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Old 28-11-2005, 11:39   #10
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Hey Pete, you guy's would be letting off CO2's to warm the place up wouldn't you.
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Old 28-11-2005, 19:20   #11
Kai Nui
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Does anyone have different types of extinguishers located in different areas?
I considered mounting a unit on deck, but am worried about it rusting. What would be a practical extinguisher to mount on the binnical? That BBQ worries me. Not so much when I use it, but when my beer drinking land lubber guests decide to take charge of the BBQ.
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Old 28-11-2005, 20:06   #12
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Quality fire extinguishers

I was advised to buy commercial quality fire extinguishers for the boat in order to "sleep well". I noticed that there are only a few brands that virtually all of the commercial service businesses use. They had the proper mounts for marine use which are not used with hanging them in buildings.

Like scuba tanks they have to by "hydroed" after so many years and the requirement for refilling is also specified as to the time interval (I don't remember what that time is). If you know that the time is close to have them recharged with new material just practice putting out fires with the old chemical before taking them in.

I have a 5 pounder in every living space on the boat, including the engine room and lazarette, like Wheels says, you never know when you might have to fight a fire to get out and a two pounder just might not have enough weenies to put out the fire before roasting.

I was advised to use a rubber mallet to tap the extinguisher inverted from its normal mounting position and put my ear up to it to listen to the chemical fall to the opposite end. When it is packed it takes manny taps with the mallet to completely unpack the chemical. After the chemical is all sufficiently loose you can tip the extinguisher back and forth and hear what sounds like those tiny glass balloons used as epoxy filler (thixotropic) in a glass bottle. It is a soft sound.

Having the commercial units serviced does not cost any more than servicing the non-commercial mickey-mouse units of the same capacity and IS far cheaper than completely replacing them.
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