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Old 09-10-2012, 16:53   #1
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Location: Sea of Cortez--La Paz
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Fire Extinguisher damage ??

Will smoke and fire extinguisher use/residue cause any problems with other components in engine compartment? Concerns with air intake, other wiring & components, chain drive for wheel/rudder, rubber hoses, auto pilot, etc? What if anything should I be looking for, concerned with?

Here's my story: I had been having some starter issues with my Yanmar 4jh2e, as I was completing a short 2 week cruise up to Puerto and back home to La Paz.
The last time I started engine to motor back to slip...Unknown to me, my starter continued running; overheating & melting wiring, solenoid, alternator etc. This created much smoke.

This created enough smoke and burning rubber smell---I noticed shut down engine ASAP and used a dry fire extinguisher on engine (since I didn't know cause of smoke).
Of course, I've cleaned (using a water and vinegar mix) on engine and engine compartment cleaning it of most of smoke residue as well as extinguisher residue. Still smells a bit of smoke a extinguisher.

Will smoke and fire extinguisher use/residue cause any problems with other components in engine compartment? Concerns with air intake, other wiring & components, chain drive for wheel/rudder, rubber hoses?

Surfing & sailing are more than a way of life...
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Old 10-10-2012, 10:36   #2
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Re: Fire Extinguisher damage ??

Possibly. Depends on what powder it was. Assuming it was a typical general purpose drychem, it would be monoammonium-phosphate; which absorbs water and corrodes metal electrical connectors. Is there an air filter in there that may have gotten some of it on there? Any electricals or electronics where it might be sitting on something you'd prefer not to have fritzing up on you? Any machinery at all where the stuff might have gotten in? The alternator would be my biggest worry, and such things.

There are engineroom suppression systems that will let you put out fires or smother vapour-collections without wrecking everything....price depending on quality/capability, of course.

Ps 139:9-10 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
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Old 10-10-2012, 11:40   #3
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Re: Fire Extinguisher damage ??

Yup! In fact, Fireboy uses a circuit board, damaged by dry chem extinguishers, to market their Halotron extinguishers. I had a dry chem accidentally discharge in the back seat of an old car I had. I got rid of the car afterward. I use an old Halon (now illegal to refill) system in my engine room, two large Halotron extinguishers for my Coast Guard requirement, and a foam extinguisher in the cockpit (rated 70B:C) as my nuclear option. A dry chem will ruin the upholstery, electrical and electronics installations, and make messes you will be cleaning for years. But then again, they are cheap and universal. I made my choice, but cost has never been an issue to me when it comes to quelling a fire aboard. I just pay it up front, dry chem users pay for it after the fire.
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Old 10-10-2012, 12:36   #4
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Re: Fire Extinguisher damage ??

I agree with the others the powder will cause corrosion issues. Clean everything as best you can and let your insurance company know what happened. hopefully they may help with the expenses and if you have future problems you will be covered for those as well. Good luck and glad it was not worse fire at sea is a scary thing.
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Old 10-10-2012, 13:46   #5
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Re: Fire Extinguisher damage ??

Hi -

All dry chemical agents are treated with a silicon component (to stop the powder from clumping) which makes them "flow" better when being discharged, and it also makes the agent "water proof".

Cleaning up discharged dry chemical agent with water or any type of liquid is the absolute worse thing that you can do! It will end up making a gooey mess and cause corrision.

The proper way to clean up the discharge is with a vacuum cleaner since the agent is basically a water proof powder.

As mentioned in other posts, a "gas" type of extinguisher is the best to use for electronics or engine spaces as it leaves no mess. CO2 is cheap, works well and available worldwide. The old Halon's work very well but are incredibily expensive to have re-filled and are illegal to own in many parts of the world. Halotrons work OK but are very expensive to purchase.

For doomsday engine/cabin fires I keep a 15-lb CO2 extinguisher and a 20-lb ABC dry chemical extinguisher, as well as a Honda 1-inch diameter (38-gpm) portable pump (for fires or flooding) in the cockpit locker.

The little pump extinguished a big cabin fire on a yacht in Gibralter and de-watered 5 other yachts and prevented their sinking. Obviously, I like little pumps!

Good luck in your cleaning efforts - at least you still have a boat to clean!

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Old 10-10-2012, 14:16   #6
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Re: Fire Extinguisher damage ??

Ahh the days of the old CO2 systems! They would put out the fire, and stop the engine from running ! easy to clean up after, and the engine would still run after the use of CO2, where Halon can kill a engine !! Ive had CO2 on almost all of my boats in the past, never had to use them but, Ive seen others use them, and they sure put out fires and ya can get CO2 most everywhere! Don't know if ya can still get them, but if ya can they beat the heck out of dry power of any kind ! Just my 2 cents
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Old 10-10-2012, 14:31   #7
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Re: Fire Extinguisher damage ??

You can still get C02. I have a fixed 50 pound CO2 bottle that I get re-certified (weighed) each year. When the bottle needs to get hydrotested every five years I get to set it off in the engine space. What fun that is.


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