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Old 21-11-2006, 20:04   #31
Kai Nui

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I can't speak of "more fire retardent mattresses", but the first thing we were warned about when we switched to a latex matress was that they are EXTREMELY flammable.
FWIW we have 5# extinguishers mounted, one within reach of the master berth between the cabin door and the berth, a 5# mounted at the companionway so it can be reached from the cockpit or inside, and a 5# mounted in the forward cabin between the berth and the cabin door. We have smaller extinguishers mounted in the galley within reach of the stove, the head, and at the nav station by the electrical panel. Any one can be reached within 2 steps inside the boat, and three can be reached while standing at the engine fire port. There are three escape points in our boat, and the three 5# extinguishers are locted within reach of those escape points. If we were to keep this boat, we would install a halon system in the engine compartment. There will be one on the trimaran.

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Old 21-11-2006, 21:50   #32
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I have seen one of these burn. I don't think the actual flames are the major issue. It's the copiouse amounts of choking black smoke. It's so thick, I reckon you would sufficate if you got even just one breath of the stuff.


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Old 22-11-2006, 13:42   #33

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Be equally wary of fire retardant latex, apparently the chemicals used to make it fire retardant are getting a reputation for being carcinogentic, mutagenic, and spreading all over the environment as they migrate OUT of these products and even out of plastics (like computer cases.) There was a recent article in the NYTimes by an author who had some extensive blood testing done, very interesting to see how many chemicals were found in him--that shouldn't be in any of us. I'd rather have flammable foam, and keep smokers off the boat. (Incidentally, synthetics like Herculon are usually very flammable, where leather, wool, silk, and cotton are relatively not. I know there are mildew issues with everything on a boat, but flammability is one reason to look at wool/cotton traditional upholstery fabrics instead of flammable synthetics.

Guys, Halon may not be what you'd want to breath all day but it was and still is extensively marketed as being the safest choice for confined spaces. There are, as several point out, different blends of Halon primarily "liquid" versus "gas" as they spray out, I'm referring to the "gas" type used instead of CO2 to quench electronics and engine fires. This was the extinguisher of first choice for the USAF and the USN aboard submarines, and one reason was because it is the least toxic in confined spaces. NASA as well, IIRC.

Not "safe" but "safest", and that's about all you can ask for. Incidentally, the combustion products of Halon, like Freon, are known carcinogens. But again...that's something to worry about AFTER you know you will be alive. In the relative scheme of things...I'd still prefer Halon if I was going to be sealed in the room with it.
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Old 22-11-2006, 14:16   #34
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I'd still prefer Halon if I was going to be sealed in the room with it.
Halon can kill far faster than CO or the by products from synthetic materials. Unless contained to the engine room it would kill you as sure as a fire. If contained, the fire is out or else it sure won't be by you.

Should the flames / heat build enough to ignite the upholstery you had better already be gone or you won't survive. Once anything aboard starts really burning your ability to put it out is limited by your need to get you and crew out from below ASAP. The time after you notice it to when you can no longer be in the space might only be long enough to get out and that says nothing about fighting the fire. Fighting to the exit is the only serious decision to make.

The only "safest" option is the one that prevents the fire in the first place. The argument about what will and won't burn is all too much after the fact. Substitution of products that will promote mold and make you sick sounds like a poor choice against a fire that if powerful enough to ignite those things and is already out of control. You were already dead well before the fire is fully engaged.
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Old 22-11-2006, 14:25   #35
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But but... I rely on all those fine chemicals to preserve me I figure if I stick to Twinkies and Coke, I will be so well preserved, I will live forever
Seriously though, engine compartments, especially those inderneath a berth, should be insulated with a fire retardent of some sort. A month ago, I would have said that if the fire gets through the bulkhead to the matress, it is too late anyway, but recently, I saw a fire that was extinguished by a hand extinguisher that was fueled by diesel and hydraulic oil, and was hot enough to melt pot metal and warp 3/8" steel. The burn area was such that I would have never believed that a 5# extinguisher would have been sufficient. But, I saw it with my own eyes. That said, as Wheels pointed out, the smoke is the real danger. Proper escape routes are a must. Hatches to seal off areas between the escape hatch and the most likely sources of fire are also important. The more you can contain a fire, the better chance you have to fight it, or at least increase your time to escape.
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Old 23-11-2006, 07:25   #36

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Paul, you mean, some big chemical company lied to me about the safety of their patented product?! Dayum, I'm gonna have to go read up on this again.

But overall I think I'd rather have a bottle of Halon onboard, than sleep on a fire-resistant mattress, with my mouth inhaling the fire-retardant dust at point blank range all night. Nuh-uh, momma raised me with enough sense to keep away from any chemicals that won't help me glow brighter in the bright. (That keeps down the electric bill, the rest of them are no good at all.<G>)

Having seen the results of flame and embers on polys versus wools, I'd still rather wools. I make a point to fly in wool and cotton as well "just in case". Same way I wear a PFD at sea, I never plan to use it but I'd feel AWFUL foolish if I ever needed it and knew exactly which closet it was left hanging in.<G> And that's not to ignore mold, but that's a whole other problem anyway.

Gotta agree with you about "safest". An engineer once told me "Sometimes you have to let the fires burn and spend your time on fire prevention instead of fire fighting" and a lot of people just don't get that. They get all upset about "how can you let the fires burn" (literally or figuratively<G>) but if all you do is spend your time on firefighting, and never do any fire prevention...You get a closed loop, firefighting all the time.

I've become a great believer in FUSES and MORE INSULATION. As well as choosing materials that just don't like to burn. Fully agree with you on that. (And, on holding my breath while spraying any kind of gas that you have to BUY to get hold of.<G>)

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