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Old 17-11-2010, 10:26   #1
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Fireproof Covering for Gasoline / Petrol

I was reading various posts and am interested in getting a small portable generator (eg Honda). Like many people I don't like the idea of having gasoline on my sailboat. Is there a fireproof covering that one could put around fuel containers to minimise fire hazard?
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Old 17-11-2010, 10:36   #2
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Gasoline, acetone, paint thinners, propane, alcohol, nail polish remover.... I've got it all aboard. Just take care, keep everything well sealed. A good nose helps.
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Old 17-11-2010, 10:39   #3
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Like Gaz I feel the petrol risk is overestimated/magnified out of proportion.... there's 1000's of boats out there with petrol for their dinghy's etc on board with minimum worries... me included.
Short of a petrol spill that you tried stubbing a ciggy out in the risks are minimal.... fumes are unlikely to develop to an extent where there's a possibility of explosion before you'll notice and check out the cause...
If its your boat on fire... a fire proof covers not going to help much.... GRP burns hot and fast on its own... you'll get that 'BANG' just as fast...
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Old 17-11-2010, 11:37   #4
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Guess we all base decisions on personal experiences.

I helped pull five people from the water years back in Perth. They'd just refuelled a 40 foot wooden petrol cruiser and it exploded when they turned over the engines. Boat burned to the waterline, the crew were also badly burnt and had major glass cuts.

Two years back a female pal was on the bow of their boat about to pass over mooring lines when hubby used the thuster.

They stored their spare dink petrol in the anchor locker for safety. Everyone now assumes the tank breather was open, the locker drains somehow got blocked, the compartment below had thruster relays.......

The complete bow (and pal) were blown off and over the pontoon.

So maybe the risks are overestimated, but maybe they are not.

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Old 17-11-2010, 11:40   #5
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I'll have to agree with boatman, as long as the fumes are under the LEL, (lower explosive limit), no bang. Remember you are floating in an object made primarily out of petroleum by products. Having an explosive vapor monitor in the bilge is a good idea. I drive around with 200gals of gas aboard all the time.
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Old 17-11-2010, 11:52   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swagman View Post
Guess we all base decisions on personal experiences.

I helped pull five people from the water years back in Perth. They'd just refuelled a 40 foot wooden petrol cruiser and it exploded when they turned over the engines. Boat burned to the waterline, the crew were also badly burnt and had major glass cuts.

Two years back a female pal was on the bow of their boat about to pass over mooring lines when hubby used the thuster.

They stored their spare dink petrol in the anchor locker for safety. Everyone now assumes the tank breather was open, the locker drains somehow got blocked, the compartment below had thruster relays.......

The complete bow (and pal) were blown off and over the pontoon.

So maybe the risks are overestimated, but maybe they are not.

JOHN
The 1st example could have a lot off possible explanations... fuel leaks etc.. as to the second... I feel its asking for trouble storing fuel next to electrical relays/motors... mines in a seperate dedicated locker.
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Old 17-11-2010, 11:57   #7
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The risk from gasoline isn't the liquid, it's the vapour.

"Fireproof" materials offer an extra few minutes to extinguish a fire, or get out of there, before the fire gets impossible to control. They don't stop the fire from starting in the first place, and they don't do anything about the vapours that are responsible for explosions like the ones John mentioned above. Those vapours are easily cleared with a good ventilation system (appropriate bilge blowers, etc.) or by storing the gasoline like you store propane- in a locker vented overboard.
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Old 18-11-2010, 14:34   #8
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...storing the gasoline like you store propane- in a locker vented overboard.
BINGO!

Treat gasoline just like you would propane and you are extremely unlikely to ever have any sort of problem. And--just like with propane lockers--you need to check those overboard vents now and then to make sure they aren't clogged.
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Old 19-11-2010, 11:00   #9
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Thanks for all these comments. Follow up question. A gas locker is vented at the bottom because gas is heavier than air. Does it matter where a locker used for gasoline is vented?
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Old 19-11-2010, 11:14   #10
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Gasoline vapours, like propane, are heavier than air. A locker holding a can of outboard gas would be vented in the same way as a locker holding a propane tank.
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Old 19-11-2010, 12:40   #11
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I'd suggest going to metal cans despite the problem with rust. I'd also suggest storing them on deck (which can be a safety issue in rough seas) or in a vented locker.

As for fireproof, about all I know about that is asbestos - and that's another can of worms in itself. I have been pondering using a fire blanket and cutting it for a good cover. It (the blanket) may be a bit less carcinogenic than asbestos.
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Old 19-11-2010, 12:47   #12
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Fire blankets are often a fine, long-strand fibreglass cloth. Itchy, but not particularly carcinogenic.

Your best bet for preventing a gasoline-related fire or explosion is to prevent the gasoline vapours from building up anywhere. Covers and blankets don't do anything about the vapours.

If you have flames approaching the tanks, the most a blanket will do is buy you an extra thirty seconds, maybe a minute, before the tanks (metal or plastic) are breached. If you haven't abandoned ship by then, you're done either way. The only solution is to prevent the fire from starting in the first place: keep the liquid in the tanks, the vapour out of the boat, and the ignition sources well away from the flammables.
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Old 19-11-2010, 13:00   #13
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I've already got a gas jug on deck. The real challenge for me would be storing the Honda 2000, itself. Do they tend to leak gasoline, or emit gas vapors?
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Old 19-11-2010, 13:02   #14
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The real challenge for me would be storing the Honda 2000, itself. Do they tend to leak gasoline, or emit gas vapors?
Not on land, they don't, but if the thing is lying around loose in a locker, it could conceivably spill a bit if it gets tossed around in a seaway. As long as it's securely stored in a well ventilated space, the generator shouldn't be any more dangerous than the fuel jug itself.
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Old 19-11-2010, 13:16   #15
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I've already got a gas jug on deck. The real challenge for me would be storing the Honda 2000, itself. Do they tend to leak gasoline, or emit gas vapors?
I've found the Honda to be very gas tight. Just remember to close the breather on the gas cap.
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