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Old 19-10-2016, 08:05   #16
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Re: Smoke Alarms : Are Home Units Suitable on Boats?

While I have a household smoke alarm in the pilothouse, I am also installing a CO detector (if the wind changes while I'm running a Honda 2000 on the aft deck, I want to know if I'm getting exhaust down below), and a propane detector for the bilges, even though I run a "sparkless" diesel. YMMV, but I would consider smoke alarms (which last 10 years and work on either heat, smoke or combined detection principles) only a partial solution. Better than nothing, however.
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Old 19-10-2016, 08:15   #17
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Re: Smoke Alarms : Are Home Units Suitable on Boats?

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ohmygods how did those sailors ever manage without all this crap.
Short answer: Some of them didn't.
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Old 19-10-2016, 08:18   #18
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Re: Smoke Alarms : Are Home Units Suitable on Boats?

MSPONER (Matt),

Thanks for adding that detailed comment, which I think is good information and good experience to share. It is good to know that the "home units" did not fail to operate after even some years of use on a sailboat.

I particularly noted your observation of the "weak link" of electrical tape on boats. Small things like that can lead to disasters. So, I think it is good to discuss them or bring them up so others can learn.

I also like what you added about the multiple alarms. As I know you voyage far with several children in your family, it seems very prudent to have multiple alarms in different locations, as what you have with you is precious crew of your family. If I were voyaging with family or children, I too would make use of redundant safety devices.

I also think the key here is that ANY alarms may help a sailor become more quickly AWARE and then more rapidly respond to ANY fire. That possible rapid response may be essential to saving the boat (and crew) from boat fires of any kind.

I don't have a big boat yet. So some may wonder why I care about these things or bring these things up on a forum. To some that appears to be "armchair sailor" talk. And some naysayers may not care about the topic or the suggestions made by others. That is to be expected from a few, but it does not diminish the validity of the questions or the practicality of discussing things that are good seamanship or possible risks to sailors.

What prompted me to start this thread? I care about others and hate to see boats lost and people hurt or lost due to poor preparation or lack of knowledge. And so, some of my questions are for my own research for my own future boat, and others are to stimulate discussion on topics I find interesting or important, and where some other CF members have valuable experience or insights to share.

Thank you (and the others who have posted good tips or comments) for sharing yours.

As for my own experience with boat fires, I don't claim to have a great deal of experience with them, and I am glad I don't! I have only been on one boat that had a boat fire, but one experience is enough to learn something. I was on a boat crossing from Hawaii to California when we had an accidental galley fire about 1,000 miles from land. As with most fires on boats, it happened VERY quickly (in just ONE second there were wide spread flames from "nowhere" due to use of a pressurized alcohol stove, which I will never have on a boat) and it was scary to see, even if it was a relatively minor fire that did not ignite the whole boat. It was quickly extinguished, but in those few minutes while those flames were spreading and getting bigger, it was scary and left a strong impression (as did the adrenalin).

Being out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean creates a very different feeling about risks such as boat fires, when there is no dock to step off onto or coast guard or nearby boats for rescue if needed.

By definition, accidental fires are unexpected. The best we can do is prepare mentally and with plans for action and use of appropriate tools (extinguishers) aboard.

Given that recent (and many other) examples of boats being consumed VERY quickly and crews having to abandon ship VERY quickly (sometimes without any PFDs or Life Raft or ANYTHING) it brings out how important it is to first try to PREVENT fires as much as possible, and if one starts to BECOME AWARE (alarm) and RESPOND appropriately as quickly as possible.
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Old 19-10-2016, 08:19   #19
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Re: Smoke Alarms : Are Home Units Suitable on Boats?

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Short answer: Some of them didn't.
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Old 19-10-2016, 08:23   #20
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Re: Smoke Alarms : Are Home Units Suitable on Boats?

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Originally Posted by tkeithlu View Post
I use home depot type smoke, Carbon Monoxide, and propane detectors in my engine room (smoke and CO) sleeping cabin (smoke and CO) and galley (all three). The engine room smoke detector has gone off when I burned up a fan belt and when I had smoking oil on the exhaust manifold.

I think the general answer is yes, they work, and yes, you can hear them. One tripping means there is something that needs immediate attention, even if it's not a fire.

The second step is immediate and overwhelming fire suppression the moment one starts. There are simple reasons. Fuel lines burn through, feeding a small fire a large amount of diesel. Fiberglass burns like greased paper, and the smoke is far too toxic for entry to the space. Boat fires spread very fast. Sooo.... The electrical cut off is on the way to the engine room access, and I have both forty pounds of CO2 piped into the engine room like a sprinkler system, plus fire ports for extinguishers. Do consider a CO2 flooding system - bottles of CO2 are cheap at a welding supply, and copper tubing can carry it into your compartment.
Good post!
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Old 19-10-2016, 08:44   #21
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Re: Smoke Alarms : Are Home Units Suitable on Boats?

I didn't know they had boats in Egypt. Figured they used camels for everything.
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Old 19-10-2016, 09:12   #22
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Re: Smoke Alarms : Are Home Units Suitable on Boats?

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I didn't know they had boats in Egypt. Figured they used camels for everything.
Well yes, as a matter of fact we do have boats in Egypt. And lots of them. Why? Only this little river called the Nile running through the middle of the country (Camels can't swim across it). Oh wait! To the north we have the Mediterranean Sea with, like, Europe and modern civilization on the other side. On the eastern side of the country we have a little pond known as the Red Sea with lots of great diving (and lots of dive boats too!), watersports and everything! And there's more! Connecting the two seas mentioned above is this little ditch called the Suez Canal that cuts the transit time of shipping (and costs of shipping) way down since ships don't have sail all the way south around Africa to deliver oil and lots of cheap Chinese crap to the rest of the world! And we even have smoke alarms too! (imagine that)
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Old 19-10-2016, 09:22   #23
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Re: Smoke Alarms : Are Home Units Suitable on Boats?

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I didn't know they had boats in Egypt. Figured they used camels for everything.
Yes, and you don't want to stand to close to the intake or exhausts of those beasts........
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Old 19-10-2016, 09:22   #24
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Re: Smoke Alarms : Are Home Units Suitable on Boats?

A smoke alarm will likely give you a few seconds warning to get off the boat.

I prefer to ensure safety critical systems are in good order. This includes our self activating extinguishers in the engine compartment.

A good early warning system will incorporate infra red, video and gas / smoke detection. A smoke alarm on its own is just part of an early warning system.

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Old 19-10-2016, 09:23   #25
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Re: Smoke Alarms : Are Home Units Suitable on Boats?

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I really doubt that the old ears on this forum would reliably hear a smoke alarm with its alarm mounted in an insulated engine room with the engine working hard.
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Old 19-10-2016, 09:38   #26
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Re: Smoke Alarms : Are Home Units Suitable on Boats?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tkeithlu View Post
I use home depot type smoke, Carbon Monoxide, and propane detectors in my engine room (smoke and CO) sleeping cabin (smoke and CO) and galley (all three). The engine room smoke detector has gone off when I burned up a fan belt and when I had smoking oil on the exhaust manifold.

I think the general answer is yes, they work, and yes, you can hear them. One tripping means there is something that needs immediate attention, even if it's not a fire.

The second step is immediate and overwhelming fire suppression the moment one starts. There are simple reasons. Fuel lines burn through, feeding a small fire a large amount of diesel. Fiberglass burns like greased paper, and the smoke is far too toxic for entry to the space. Boat fires spread very fast. Sooo.... The electrical cut off is on the way to the engine room access, and I have both forty pounds of CO2 piped into the engine room like a sprinkler system, plus fire ports for extinguishers. Do consider a CO2 flooding system - bottles of CO2 are cheap at a welding supply, and copper tubing can carry it into your compartment.
Good point on CO detection. Not sure about the CO2 just because of the weight of and pressure in the bottles. Do they still make Halon Systems?
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Old 19-10-2016, 09:53   #27
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Re: Smoke Alarms : Are Home Units Suitable on Boats?

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Good point on CO detection. Not sure about the CO2 just because of the weight of and pressure in the bottles. Do they still make Halon Systems?
"Because Halon is a CFC, the production of Halon ceased on January 1, 1994, under the Clean Air Act. There is no cost-effective means of safely and effectively disposing of the Halon that has already been produced, therefore recycling and reusing the existing supply intelligently and responsibly to protect lives and property is the best solution.

The EPA recognizes that that Halon remains the most effective "clean" extinguishing agent available, despite its ozone depleting potential, and there are no federal or state regulations prohibiting the buying, selling or use of Halon extinguishers. All Halon available now is recycled so it is an environmentally responsible choice."
Source

3M Makes NOVEC which it says is safe for the ozone layer and also has no harmful effects on humans.

DuPont also makes a competing product, although its somewhat different.
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Old 19-10-2016, 10:44   #28
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Re: Smoke Alarms : Are Home Units Suitable on Boats?

We are currently using NAF-S-227 for our fixed systems (Engine Room is 122 sq. meters) and it is very effective. First hand experience on this one during refit in a shipyard. Refilling the bottle after expenditure is expensive. Refilling a 50-kg bottle cost us just over 3K Euros. Small expenditure when compared to possibly losing a 27.5 meter wooden yacht.
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Old 19-10-2016, 11:48   #29
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Re: Smoke Alarms : Are Home Units Suitable on Boats?

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We are currently using NAF-S-227 for our fixed systems (Engine Room is 122 sq. meters) and it is very effective. First hand experience on this one during refit in a shipyard. Refilling the bottle after expenditure is expensive. Refilling a 50-kg bottle cost us just over 3K Euros. Small expenditure when compared to possibly losing a 27.5 meter wooden yacht.
If I read the report correctly, its only effective for Class A fires?
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Old 19-10-2016, 12:01   #30
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Re: Smoke Alarms : Are Home Units Suitable on Boats?

I had some friends who had a fixed engine halon system that went off while on passage. There was no fire or heat, so it was probably some fault with the detector. It was at night and shut the engine down while they were motoring along a shore. It took awhile to figure what happened. They were on passage from the Tuamotos to Tahitii, very fortunate they were not running a pass in the Tuamotos when it occurred or it could have caused a lost boat.
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